Coastal Charm

A Rhode Is­land cot­tage sports clas­sic New Eng­land shin­gle style.


Shin­gle style is a distinctly Amer­i­can type of ar­chi­tec­ture that was born and bred in New Eng­land.

When a fam­ily wanted to cre­ate a Rhode Is­land coastal cot­tage with this dis­tinc­tive style, they called on Pol­he­mus Sav­ery DaSilva Ar­chi­tects Builders (PSD) to help them. Then PSD would de­sign and build the home to re­flect the clas­sic re­gional style. “The Rhode Is­land coast is where shin­gle style started,” says John R. DaSilva, de­sign prin­ci­pal.


The orig­i­nal house on the prop­erty didn’t take full ad­van­tage of the ocean view. “The lot has a pan han­dle that goes down be­tween two other houses to the beach, so its view is through that nar­row por­tion of the prop­erty,” John says. “We shifted the house to align with that.”

John and his team also de­signed the shape of the home to max­i­mize the view. The front is one-and-a-half sto­ries, mean­ing the se­cond floor only con­tains dormer win­dows. But the back has a full two sto­ries to max­i­mize the win­dows. To keep the tran­si­tion co­he­sive, they added two tow­ers on ei­ther side of the home. “The tow­ers tran­si­tion the house, which al­lows you to max­i­mize the view across the back,” John says. “It would be lim­ited with only dorm­ers.”

“The com­pact foot­print and gam­brel roof is some­thing you find in shin­gle-style houses in the area, that would most early 20th cen­tury.” likely have been built in the


On the front, the PSD team played with tra­di­tional shin­gle style. For ex­am­ple, rather than us­ing typ­i­cal round col­umns on the wrap­around porch, they used flat fat col­umns in­stead. “It’s a more play­ful way to make a col­umn,” John says. “It’s more con­tem­po­rary, but it still evokes tra­di­tional houses.” Like­wise, the shut­ters are over­scaled and have fun cutouts of sail­boats. “It makes the house friendly and en­dear­ing,” John says.

Know Your El­e­ments

Shin­gle style: A type of ar­chi­tec­ture de­vel­oped in New Eng­land in the 1880s, char­ac­ter­ized by an en­ve­lope of wood shin­gles.

Dormer win­dow: A win­dow that projects ver­ti­cally from a sloped roof.

Flat col­umn: A col­umn with en­ta­sis (ta­per­ing) on the sides only; the front and back are straight, as if cut from a flat wall plane.

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