This Shotgun House is One with its Jamestown Surroundings
It's a mix of modern design with traditional appeal.
Outdoor living can take many forms, from a petite patio in the corner of a yard to an expansive poolside compound with all the bells and whistles. For this Jamestown house, architect James Estes took the concept a step further, creating a design that ensures the outdoors are always within eyesight and never more than a few steps away.
“I’ve always been more or less obsessed with the idea of indoor-outdoor living, even in New England,” Estes explains. “I like to always have a feel for what’s going on outdoors — from the view to the sound of rain falling on a metal roof — and I like to be able to get there easily from ground-level spaces.”
Executing his vision didn’t prove to be too difficult: Estes, co-principal and co-founder of Newport-based Estes Twombly Architects, was not only the architect
on the project but the client, building the house on speculation with a friend. Limited to, but not deterred by, a twenty-foot-wide area on which they could build, Estes designed what he describes as a “suburban shotgun house” that combines Estes Twombly’s signature streamlined aesthetic with more traditional New England elements.
Located down one of Conanicut Island’s last remaining dirt roads, the house’s quaint, tree-laden surroundings serve as a pleasing contrast to the structure’s linear design.
Stepping inside, it’s immediately apparent this house holds no secrets.
“When you enter, you can see all the way through to the back of the house,” Estes says.
The open-concept kitchen-dining-living space echoes the simplicity of the exterior, complete with poured concrete floors and a ceiling of painted one-by-six-foot tongue and groove board for added interest and texture.
The kitchen is a calming mix of stainless steel, stone and clear-coated maple that blends in with, rather than pulls attention from, the rest of the room. Just behind the kitchen is the smaller of the house’s two bedrooms and an adjoining bathroom, which can also be accessed from the hallway.
In creating such a visually quiet space, Estes kept focus on the south and west sides of the home, where several doors frame views of the private property. In the summer, the doors open up to keep breezes flowing. In the winter, the sun pours in, providing extra warmth when it’s needed most.
One of Estes’s design goals was to maximize the space without infringing on the open feel of the layout. That meant creativity with storage was key. Three-foot-deep maple-veneered cabinets under the staircase provide ample space for necessities, while built-in shelving under the windows in the living and dining area offer additional discrete storage.
The second floor exudes the same modern simplicity as the first. The lofted master bedroom carries on the color palette of white and light maple but swaps out concrete floors for wood. Adjacent to the bedroom, the master bathroom, like the one downstairs, features the only pops of color found in the otherwise neutral-hued house: Green glass tiles line the shower and the counter is made of clear acrylic with light green coloring on the underside, which gives it the appearance of beach glass. It’s a subtle nod to the house’s island location and nearby Mackerel Cove, which neighborhood residents use for kayaking and other water activities.
Nowhere is the house’s mix of modern and traditional elements more apparent than the exterior. Locally cut one-by-twelve Eastern white pine boards give off classic New England clapboard vibes while emphasizing the structure’s long, narrow profile. The corrugated metal shed-style roof subtly tips the scale back to the contemporary.
“We intentionally kept the roofline low,” Estes says. “Our goal was not to have a big conspicuous house, but to try to have it blend into the lot and the neighborhood.”
A storage area to the left of the front porch sits behind a sliding barn door, a style inspired by the many farms that dot rural Jamestown. The space behind it is big enough to hold a smart car or some bikes and lawn equipment. Above it is another attic-like space for clothes and additional belongings.
Estes extended the roof at both ends of the house, creating a covered front porch and a covetable outdoor living space in the back. Right now, the latter takes the form of a terrace just off the living room that is big enough for a few rockers and a small dining table. But it can just as easily be converted to a screened-in porch, should future residents so desire.
Regardless of what is done with the space, Estes says he is certain that the indoor-outdoor living that the house offers will be well-loved by whoever ends up inhabiting the property, which hit the market this month.
“It’s sometimes a hard sell at the conceptual stage, but most people appreciate it when they see it.”