Home Guide

Living History

Megan Renaud fondly remembers her formative years spent in Jamestown. But it wasn’t until she settled in a Boston suburb that she realized just how special life on Conanicut Island was. So a few …

Posted

Megan Renaud fondly remembers her formative years spent in Jamestown. But it wasn’t until she settled in a Boston suburb that she realized just how special life on Conanicut Island was. So a few years ago, she and her husband Michael began looking for a summer home in Jamestown, where Megan’s mother still lives. Their realtor suggested the couple take a look at a turn of the century Victorian with ample bedrooms, space to entertain and an asking price well outside their budget. She and Michael agreed to take a look.
Not long after, their realtor called and said the price had dropped. When the owners heard that Megan had Jamestown roots, they accepted the offer. The couple knew the home would need some updating, but they continued to visit with daughters Estelle, Margarite and Vivienne on holidays and long weekends.

After a year, the family had a better sense of their wants and needs. Megan and Michael began looking for a builder. “We knew we wanted to work with someone who would respect old homes and try to maintain as much of the character as possible,” explains Megan. Their electrician suggested Greg Bressler of Picus Woodwrights in Shannock.

As Michael and Megan knew their Jamestown home would be used as a hub for gatherings, a large kitchen was at the top of their list. “The existing kitchen was a narrow space. We knocked down a wall and turned [unused maid’s quarters] into the kitchen. I wanted to maximize seating and counter space. We do a lot more entertaining than ever before,” Megan says.

An old second floor addition became the master bathroom, with double vanities handcrafted with teak by Greg. “That was a lot of fun,” he says. “They have reclaimed hardwood floors, which is not done all that often. I worked in boat restoration and am confident with how we make wood work with water.”

Greg also crafted a surface for the kitchen island, choosing a southern yellow pine that is somewhere between 200- and 300-years-old. The galley kitchen cabinets were repurposed for a wet bar, and period pieces, like a pair of pocket doors found in Newport that were stripped, refinished and mounted to exposed barn sliding track for a functional but aesthetically pleasing element.

Though owners of an old home will agree that the work is never really done, the Renauds have recaptured the past as they look to the future. “When I go there, when I cross the bridge, I feel the drop of ten degrees and it’s just so beautiful,” says Megan. “It’s a special place.”