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New McDonald

For Katie and Scott McDonald, moving into a Rhode Island family home meant recasting the previously renovated house as a sanctuary of peaceful, Japanese-inspired design.

Creative Direction

The arrowhead-shaped corner at the end of the living room evolved from the need to accommodate a standard sliding-glass-door module. “It would have been astronomically expensive to custom-build it,” says Chris Bardt. This architectural gesture— the arrow “points” toward the river—“enabled us to be very generous with the view area without having to extend the entire house.”

Katie and Scott McDonald—she’s a self-described “holistic health coach and raw food chef”; he’s a psychiatrist—were living the architectural high life with their son, Sage, in Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1908 E. E. Boynton House in Rochester, New York. Alas, a desire to return to New England and inhabit a space that more actively incorporated the outdoors prevailed. “The 228 leaded-glass windows were beautiful, but they separated us from nature,” says Katie. Add to that the couple’s shared love of serene, clean interiors, and the McDonalds realized they were ready to exchange Wright’s inward-looking world of crafted ornament and heavy oak furniture for an Eastern-influenced, minimalist environment that embraced nature.

They purchased the house Katie’s parents had lived in for 22 years: a non-descript 1950s gambrel-roofed builder’s special on four bucolic acres in Saun-derstown, Rhode Island, a hamlet some 30 miles from Providence. “We didn’t want to add square footage,” says Katie, “but we wanted to capture the view [of the Narrow River],” which is best seen from the decks off the living room and master bedroom. They also desired a seamless, open floorplan where they could embrace their Far Eastern tastes.

Accordingly, 3six0 Architecture principals Chris Bardt and Kyna Leski, along with their senior associate Jack Ryan, removed the wall between the existing living and dining rooms. The three spaces (two old, one new) were combined into the McDonalds’ multipurpose zone, and a wall of river-facing glass sliders now frames the vista. They also converted the existing dining room into a library and enclosed its adjacent screened porch to create Katie’s office.

While keeping the square footage essentially the same, 3six0’s renovation turned the rambling structure’s complicated aggregation of Ls, angles, and rooms into what Katie calls “a healing sanctuary.”

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