Two Local Creatives Transformed a Meshanticut Cape

A floral designer and a visual artist turned a fixer upper into their dream home.

The couple’s dog, Peppino Ricotta, relaxes in the living room, where treatment-less windows keep the views of the garden unobstructed.

Cleaning House
When Dennis DelSignore and Paul Carpentier first laid eyes on their 1940s Cranston Cape, it didn’t exactly scream “dream home.” “It was more like Grey Gardens. Everything was so overgrown and abandoned looking,” DelSignore, the creative director at Stoneblossom Floral and Events, recalls. Still, the couple, who opened Tin Town Studio, a gallery and educational art studio in Cranston’s Knightsville neighborhood, last year, could see the potential behind the cracked ceilings and layers of wallpaper. “There was an exterior intrigue. And it was obvious that it had been loved for many years” before the previous owner moved out, Carpentier, an artist educator who teaches at the RISD Museum and local schools, says. So the couple signed on the dotted line and embarked on a six-month journey to bring the 1,400-square-foot Royal Barry Willis-inspired house back to life, mixing Colonial Revival characteristics with their signature classic-meets-modern style.

A wall between the library and kitchen was taken down for better flow on the first floor.

Finders Keepers
Acting as their own general contractors, DelSignore and Carpentier were meticulous in their attention to detail. Added architectural elements — such as molding around the doors and new exterior clapboards — fit within the seventeenth-century aesthetic of the home. Happily, there were also many features that were worth preserving. Carpeting hid immaculate hardwood floors, and the interior doors and their forged steel hardware all remained. The living room fireplace just needed a fresh coat of paint and wider mantle, courtesy of Carpentier’s ninety-one-year-old father, to bring it up to date. Completing the look, DelSignore selected a neutral paint palette inspired by the house’s landscape. “All the paint is tints and tones of the same color, but changed from room to room. As the lighting changes throughout the day, each color takes on a whole new look,” he explains. The only pop of color is on the striped walls of the lavette, just off the kitchen, an addition made possible after the three-season porch connecting the house to the garage was enclosed to create a more formal and functional entry.