House Lust: A Shibui-Inspired Homestead in West Kingston

This place soaks in the natural light.

If there was ever a time to embrace the 100-year-old Japanese Shibui aesthetic, it’d be now, in 2020, when we’re homebound and so desperate for a cleansed palate.

“Shibui describes a profound, unassuming, quiet feeling,” wrote editor Elizabeth Gordon in an iconic August 1960 issue of House Beautiful. “It is unobtrusive and un-ostentatious. It may have hidden attainments, but they are not paraded or displayed. The form is simple and must have been arrived at with an economy of means. Shibui is never complicated or contrived.”

These days, tidiness might not be enough. (Sorry, Marie Kondo.) An object, a design element, a home: Could it spark joy, but also peace? When your mind is a storm, external quietude is the eye, offering a moment to catch your breath before the wind picks up again.

Such peace is not often found in Rhode Island real estate. Pleasure, sure. Grandiosity, absolutely. And potential — always. But Shibui-style calm, and 6,739 miles over land and sea from its roots in Japan? Not likely.

Enter 240 Usquepaugh Road in West Kingston.

“It’s that oasis that everyone is trying to find right now,” says Ann McCrory, who listed the property with Randall Realtors on Monday.

McCrory says the home, built in 1978, was constructed with the seven elements of Shibui design (simplicity, implicity, modesty, naturalness, everydayness, imperfection and silence) in mind. The house harnesses the power of the sun through passive solar energy, and large windows frame views of evergreens that dot the grounds, which feature three outbuildings, fruit trees, raised flower and vegetable beds and a chicken coop.

McCrory admits the layout of the house — spread over three layers — and the lifestyle that comes with it might not be for everyone. But those desperately seeking the Shibui aesthetic will be right at home.

Here’s your House Lust:

For more information on 240 Usquepaugh Rd. in West Kingston, contact Randall Realtors’ Ann McCrory at 401-413-6075 or visit


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