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A Rye-Based Designer Transforms a Rhode Island Vacation Home

There are a lot of steps in this three-story upside-down Rhode Island vacation home, but thanks to Rye-based designer Emily Meszkat, they lead to an incredibly luxurious escape on every level.

Photos by Mindy Briar Photography

When past Westchester clients tapped Emily Meszkat to design their family’s vacation home in Weekapaug, RI, she approached the design as she would any other project. “My designs always have a healthy dose of color and pattern, and I always try to talk people into a touch of whimsy,” says Meszkat, principal of her eponymous Rye-based firm. “I also make it a rule to have family- and pet-friendly materials in every home.”

That was especially important for this family of four plus dog, as they expect extended family to visit with their own pets in tow. “They needed a home that would be large enough to serve as another outpost for the family to stay, party, and live hard in,” the designer explains, noting that her clients spent a lot of time in Weekapaug, where the husband grew up. Once they found the perfect place, Meszkat set out to renovate the home alongside architect Kenneth Wieber and contractor Field + Co. “Emily had the answers we needed very quickly and knew exactly what we wanted and why,” adds Ben Field, principal of Field & Co. “She pulled a big project together and made our work look even better.”

home foyer

Indeed, it was a big project: a three-story “upside down” house that could stand up to heavy traffic while feeling like an ultra-luxurious getaway. “The family is a sailing family, and they love to be on the water,” the designer says. “I wanted to infuse the coastal vibe, but there is always the danger of making everything blue and white and one note.” Circular, ship-like windows were installed wherever possible, and materials like shiplap and glass tile (reminiscent of mermaid scales) complete the aesthetic.

vacation home Rhode Island
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To avoid being too literal with the seaside theme, Meszkat opted for wallpaper with shots of color, like the pink powder room. “You should take risks on color and pattern if you are not usually a risk taker,” she says. “A vacation home should invoke fun and whimsy and escape in a way that you may not normally be comfortable in your everyday home.”


In the entryway, ginger jars nod to the homeowners’ traditional aesthetic with a coastal rattan twist. “We added a rattan touch to a lot of traditional things throughout, like the pendant lights over the kitchen island and rattan-wrapped brass lights in the stairway,” Meszkat adds. For the stairs, the designer chose a runner that would “wear like iron,” thanks to the home’s “upside down” layout. “In order to see the water views, the main-floor living is located on the upper floors where the bedrooms would normally be, so I knew these stairs were going to get more use than usual for all the up and down.” Factoring in sand and salty shoes from the beach, the designer opted for an indoor/outdoor runner in a lighter hue. Meszkat enlisted Primrose Woodworks (who created the millwork throughout the home) to recreate a railing that the homeowner fell in love with at an upscale hotel.

vacation home entry area Meszkat

Living Room

In the living room, a shiplap and marble fireplace strike a balance between carefree beach house and luxury five-star retreat. A pure wool rug from Stanton Carpet is built to last and wears a nautical stripe. The Pottery Barn sofas suit the homeowner’s traditional taste with rolled arms and a tight back. A wicker table is painted Sherwin Williams Salty Dog blue.

living room

Powder Room

Off the main living room, the door opens to a feminine powder room. “The woman of the house is the only girl in the family — even the dog is a boy — so I convinced her we needed a shot of pink to break up all of the blues and to make her mark,” Meszkat says. “If you look at that gorgeous Thibaut paper, you see there is actually a lot of blue in the pattern, so that ties it all together.” A Kohler sink, reminiscent of seashells, and a scalloped Oomph mirror complete the ladylike vibe.

pop of color bathroom vanity


“I hate a metal hood,” Meszkat admits, opting for a white hood with some wood to tie it into the island and floor. “We have a lot of brass, so it’s a beautiful, custom-made kitchen,” she adds. Rattan barstools from Serena & Lily lend a nautical element, and a glass backsplash brightens the space. The result is airy, but not overwhelmingly white. “We didn’t want white subway tile; this has some sparkle,” the designer explains. “For the walls, trim, ceiling, and cabinetry, we used Benjamin Moore Simply White. It’s a warmer white that really works for this Rhode Island house. It’s crisp but not stark.” A custom table, made by Dunes and Duchess, is anchored by a Capiz shell light in the eat-in kitchen.

white modern kitchen

Dry Bar

A vacation home needs a good bar, and “we went all in,” Meszkat says. The homeowner fell in love with this mosaic tile from Casablanca Tile, complete with the colors of the sea and a brass inlay. The designer opted for a hydrangea blue as a contrast to the more nautical shades in the home and painted cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s Santorini. Glass hardware offers an elevated touch. “We did a good job of not making it too precious, but really an escape,” she notes. The hydrangea motif extends to Rifle Paper Co. wallpaper in the butler’s pantry and Schumacher fabric covering the chairs in the eat-in kitchen.

bar area

First Floor Living Space

This living space sees heavy in-and-out traffic when the family is hosting parties in the backyard, or ushering kids back inside from the beach. The kitchenette has a party fridge and “the whole setup” according to Meszkat, who enlisted Primrose Woodworks to create custom cabinetry, and installed Lunada Bay tiles for an ultra-luxurious backsplash. An indoor/outdoor rug is meant to look like sisal, and slipcovered sofas make for easy clean-up. “Just like all beach house owners, we all want white furniture,” the designer laughs. The indoor/outdoor coffee table is Serena & Lily.

living area Meszkat

First Floor Guest Bathroom

The homeowner had a vision for this guest bathroom with blue-and-white-striped penny tile. Meszkat delivered with Casablanca Tiles and a Phillip Jeffries wallpaper vinyl for a surfer vibe along with brass fixtures. Primrose Woodworks created a custom vanity.

first floor shower

first floor guest bathroom Meszkat

Primary Bedroom

In this upside-down house, the main bedroom is positioned on the third floor for the best view. The homeowner really wanted a touch of green, so Meszkat opted for a printed Thibaut fabric for the custom reading nook and extended the hydrangea blue hue with a Phillip Jeffries grasscloth. Made Good indoor/outdoor side tables make for cozy, but easily movable, stools at the end of the bed.

primary bedroom

Primary Bathroom

The house has a lot of color, but the homeowners wanted to keep the bathroom all white for a serene, spa-like atmosphere. White and gray tile and porcelain akin to Calacatta marble slab complements all-brass fixtures and nautical lighting by Visual Comfort.

primary bathroom
Related: Discover Luxury Living at This For-Sale Harrison Home

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