Modern meets Moulding in a Historic Home’s Mindful Makeover

A 1900s renovated East Side Georgian features a kitchen ready for homework and hors d'oeuvres

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Like many parents, Macky McCleary found himself thrust into the role of virtual school headmaster for his brood during the pandemic. As a family doctor and director of family medicine at Women & Infants, mom Kate was busier than ever on the frontlines. Macky’s days became that all too familiar juggling act of keeping the kids on task for remote learning, making lunches alongside his own cups of coffee, and an already full schedule as an energy consultant and then-cabinet member for Governor Raimondo. Did we mention a dog and a new puppy? Suddenly an orderly home felt cramped and the couple decided it was time for a bigger house. 

“Jim DeRentis of Residential Properties Ltd. showed us many great properties, but we kept coming back to this one,” says Macky of the Blackstone neighborhood house his family now calls home. “The location is amazing, the grounds are gorgeous, and there’s plenty of space for our kids to grow.” To the McClearys, everything was perfect except for the kitchen, which they wanted to be open and accommodating for both homework and hors d’oeuvres. DeRentis suggested they talk to Paul Vespia from Hill & Harbor Design + Build, a firm in East Greenwich specializing in historic and coastal homes. “With a clear idea of what kind of budget it would take to make the kitchen what we needed, we were lucky enough to have our offer accepted and bought the house in September 2020.”

Staying true to the 1900s Georgian, modifications were made that acknowledged the character of the house mixed with the modern aesthetic the McClearys favor. The renovation included knocking out a wall between the kitchen and dining room resulting in an east-facing water view from the kitchen and a family social space for cooking and eating. “As a result our kitchen, while not purely modern, is actually shaker style with highly modern fixtures. We like clean lines, simple, timeless forms.” When it came to choosing paint colors, Macky said they aimed for classics: “Simple colors we would still like 10 to  15 years from now. Also, as a rule we like blues, and try to choose complementary colors to them – yellows and oranges across the color wheel – as accents.” 

Today, the large kitchen island – or “isthmus” as their daughter calls it – is the family hub. 

“Kate is an aspiring chef and we love to entertain (in non-pandemic times). We have tried to create a space that encourages socialization. We have a large and loving extended family on both sides that all get along well (imagine that!) so we needed a space that could support that,” Macky explains. “And the sunrise and morning light are amazing.”

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