From the Desk of...

balancing act

In Good taste | October 2019

Preserving and Modernizing a McKim, Mead & White Masterpiece.

I’m often asked “what makes an ideal project for team taste?” My perhaps long-winded answer always starts by describing the quality of the client/project partner team and usually ends with something sort of emotional along the lines of  ‘we’re helping clients realize a dream they’ve long had’. Here’s a summary of the response to that answer. (I’ll save you from the long winded version)…

An ideal client/project partner team is truly a collaborative one, when we (really) work together to make each other’s work better. Egos take a back seat. Respect for one another is front and center. High regard for our client’s investment in their forever home is on the forefront of our minds. Curiosity for each other’s work is evident during every call, site visit and interaction.

Most importantly, we all remember that no matter how many client projects we’re involved in, this is often the one-and-only for our clients. It’s a privileged position we’ve been invited to participate in. And that serves as our guiding principle throughout the project, however stressful it can get at times. (No highly productive working relationship is rosy every day.)

The end of my answer puts a spotlight on our clients. What this home means to them. Why they’ve embarked on building/buying/renovating this property. How this residence fulfills their wishes/desires/needs. How our work is going to make a difference in the next chapter of their lives. Important life stuff we don’t take lightly.

Stone Lea is such a project.

Our client’s long-standing and deep appreciation for the work of McKim, Mead and White led him to this extraordinary residence by the sea in Narragansett, Rhode Island. His ease with the responsibility of leading a team to restore and modernize a home for the next 100 years made it possible. His willingness to take on the restoration of a home on the National Register of Historic Places and the stewardship that entails actually makes him exuberant. His respectful partnership with a design and build team helping him make his dream to restore a home of historic significance, a reality.

Needless to say, we’re pleased to be a part of the Stone Lea client/design/build team with Sweenor Builders and Couture Design Associates. It’s shaping up to be a case study for an ideal project for team taste. Great team, historic residence, an opportunity to be up close and personal with McKim, Mead and White’s work and the responsibility to balance historic preservation with the critical needs to prepare this home for the next 100 years. Project partners Jeff Sweenor and JP Couture couldn’t have said it better.

“Any architect would be thrilled to have the opportunity to work on a house designed by McKim, Mead and White, one of the most iconic architectural firms in the history of the United States. Stone Lea is a very special example of the firm’s work and is fortunate to now be in the hands of owners who understand its importance and who have assembled a talented team to bring it into the 20th century with great care. We are grateful to be part of this collaboration.”

JP Couture | Couture Design Associates, Principal

“It is both an honor and a responsibility to be tasked with updating a home of this distinction.  Successfully blending the traditional design with updated interiors and state-of-the-art building systems requires unique collaboration. We’re thankful to be working with our project partners at Couture Design and Taste who share our belief in doing things right, and a genuine commitment to combining creativity and attention to detail.”

Jeff Sweenor | Sweenor Builders, President & CEO

As for team taste, we’re busy at work conducting our balancing act of helping to restore original elements, replicating when we can’t restore and introducing complementing interior details when bringing new materials to the home. All so our client will be comfortable in their McKim, Mead and White historic home while fulfilling his dream to steward such a significant project.

An ideal project, indeed.

Enjoy the progress photos below and look for updates on the project as we work towards completion in the summer of 2020. Or, click here for more on this client story in ‘projects in progress’ on our newly updated website.

Only the best,