Buying a house can be a daunting step, especially when doing it remotely during a pandemic. But that’s exactly how it all went down for Nolan Wells and wife Hilary Lewis, who were living in Chicago when they decided to follow through with plans to relocate to be closer to Lewis’ family. “We stuck with the plan as the pandemic began and worsened. We bought the house remotely, which was kind of scary to make such a big/important purchase based on some camera phone photos and FaceTime calls, but we’re thrilled with the house and the neighborhood,” says Wells.
The house is a four-bedroom Colonial nestled in Mount Hope, the East Side neighborhood known for its charming warren of streets. “We like old houses,” begins Wells. “Their character, history, squeaks, and even some of the challenges that they come with. A walkable/bikeable neighborhood that had a lot of other families and kids was at the top of our wishlist, too,” he says, referring to the couple’s two young children.
Inside the century-old home, don’t expect to find antiques, but a mix of furnishings with clean lines and Wells’ own handiwork of streamline pieces that combine form, function, and a reverence for different wood types. Earlier this year, he founded Wellsbuilt, a one-man business focusing on bespoke furniture for both residential and commercial clients. Wells, who previously worked as a photographer and a graphic/web designer, shares that he’s been woodworking his “whole adult life” and attended the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. “My stepdad was a carpenter, so my twin brother and I got used to working with tools and machines at an early age.” Fun fact: brother Ryan is also a woodworker in Seattle, and “yes, we’re named after the baseball pitcher,” says Wells.
Wells finds inspiration in many different styles and eras of furniture design: “Shaker, Arts and Craft, Mid-century Modern, etc. – Ideally I combine some of those aesthetic embellishments that balance with the functional role that the piece of furniture is going to serve. Mostly I like to keep it simple and just let clean and purposeful lines work in tandem with the natural beauty of the wood to anchor the design,” he says.
Still new to the Ocean State, Wells shares that a large map of Rhode Island serves as wall decor by the back door, “to help us learn the lay of the land,” he says with a smile. Although for now he admits, “We spend the most time in our dining room. It gets great light and has room for a couch so my wife and I can get comfortable while we endure the nightly ritual of trying to get our kids to eat their dinner.”
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