So & So

Escape to the Island

The Zendt Sisters find their passion – and their dream home – as innkeepers on Block Island

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Becca and Christy Zendt know the power of art, the art of inn-keeping and the magic of serendipity. Together they own and manage The Darius Inn, buttressed by porches trimmed with teal and hanging plants, and are enjoying every moment. Once Block Island’s pharmacy, the inn has assumed a bright Dodge Street palette of painted dressers, easy chairs, dog-friendly rooms and owners happily awash in the moment of living on an island.

Christy was living in the South, working at the Dallas Museum of Art and, in her words, “trying to figure things out” when a series of random events led her to Block Island. From the sunny vantage point of a friend’s backyard tent in August, Christy was intrigued by the island winter and knew the place was meant to be her home. She talked with her sister. “We can communicate without words and that gets things done. It was very serendipitous; I knew this was what I wanted to do,” she says.

They purchased The Gables 2, redesigned each of the 11 spaces with patches of light and cheery flower patterns, renamed the building, and set to work making visitors happy. “We were never really scared; it was a natural move,” Christy says. Her background in fashion and art history helps her choose the perfect pictures and paintings, often by island artists, to harmonize the individual rooms with the natural beauty outside each window.

Behind the Darius is a secluded spot where kids and grownups play and sit. Guests might recline on a front porch to feel the busy beach town’s heartbeat, then lie on a sweet piece of green grass to hear it. That’s the Darius charm.

The two sisters have fallen in love with the secrets and surprises of the changing seasons. “It’s the awe of our life; old things constantly appear as new,” she says. The summer is spent welcoming new and returning guests, changing over rooms and celebrating happy hour, because no one’s sad at happy hour. Fall means tiling and grouting, Lady Parties, building a bar for the kitchen, returning to beach walking and more days on the mainland. “We have a constantly changing palette. We spend the fall and spring doing all the projects that we had ideas for in the summer but had no time.”

“Winter? Love it! As long as you have a cozy space, it’s the perfect medicine for completing a summer,” Christy says. Then spring calls. Islanders open long-frozen windows and trees bloom while waves of young stripers appear in empty harbors. “It feels like everyone is getting ready for a play, getting back into their roles. We have such a particular stage to work with.”

Block Island might have magical powers for the Zendt sisters. Just a few years ago they followed their muse to a dot in the ocean, each using her talents to rebuild an inn on the busiest of streets with zero regrets. Blessed by serendipity, they have put in 100 percent as consummate hosts and members of the small island community. In Christy’s own words, “Everything about it, I very much love.”