newport rhode island house

Design Inspiration From Newport: 15 Ways Newport Inspired My Design Aesthetic

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A few weeks ago, I visited Newport, Rhode Island with a childhood friend for the first time and it did not disappoint! We both love architecture so we went into the trip expecting to see some pretty things, but I was pleasantly surprised with how many extra special things there were to enjoy. Newport is known for their historic mansions (which were amazing to visit), but I also loved the seaside views, food, and shopping. Historic mansions aside, Newport was bursting with beautiful neighborhoods to walk through!

My friend and I are both in the home-building process, she’s at the beginning and I’m toward the end, but we both walked away with lots of fresh inspiration. Though a lot of my decisions are set in stone (somewhat literally – ha), I got inspired by landscaping and the smaller details that really make a house shine.

Just in case you’re not planning a trip to Newport anytime soon (though I recommend it), take a trip to Newport through photographs instead! Here’s how Newport has inspired my own design aesthetic – and may just inspire yours too.

1. Pea Gravel IS a Good Idea

Whether it was a pea gravel garden, walkway, or even driveway, I was surprised by how much pea gravel I saw. Especially because I thought the perception that most people held was that pea gravel is hard to maintain, especially with snowy weather.

I’ve always loved pea gravel and the atmosphere it provides (I instantly think of dreamy European homes), so it’s nice to see that so many people use it at their homes – snow and all!

I want to incorporate pea gravel into my home with a front yard courtyard. To me, it doesn’t get much more charming than that. Another way you can utilize pea gravel is in your backyard by creating a seating area made out of or surrounded by a border of this natural material. By placing a few comfortable chairs and a bistro table, you can create a serene spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Or you can incorporate pea gravel by creating pathways throughout your garden. The soft crunch of the gravel underfoot adds to the experience, reminiscent of strolling along Newport’s picturesque beaches!

2. Windows Can Get Dressed Up With a Faux Iron Balcony

Want to elevate the overall aesthetic of your exterior? An iron balcony, whether faux or genuine, will do just that. It not only adds instant visual interest, but it creates a romantic and picturesque atmosphere too.

We have two large windows on our exterior that would be great for an iron railing. I think the addition of these balconies not only enhances the architectural beauty of the house but also provides a unique and stylish element that sets it apart from others. They may not work for every home style, but it’s a great way to embrace the charm of Newport’s architectural style!

3. A Lamp Post Is Style As Much as Function

Lamp posts are not just a practical way to light up your outdoor spaces. They also add a touch of charm and classic style to your home’s exterior as well. Gas lanterns and lamp posts were a popular light source dating back all the way to the 18th century, and incorporating this traditional style instantly provides a sense of history to your home.

One of the ways I want to use lamp posts or lanterns is by anchoring or lining my driveway with them. Not only will they provide great lighting for the area, but they also create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The soft glow from the lamp posts creates a magical ambiance, reminiscent of the charming streets of Newport at night.

You could also use lamp posts in your backyard to create a cozy and intimate space for outdoor gatherings. The soft lighting from the lamp post adds a romantic touch, perfect for enjoying a glass of wine or a good book under the stars!

4. A Gate Takes Your Home to the Next Level

When it comes to adding a touch of elegance and charm to your home’s exterior, few things can rival the beauty of iron gates. Newport had no shortage of gate inspiration and even though I don’t have a grand mansion, I instantly thought of how I could incorporate this design element into my own home. Though you may not need a gate, the intricate detailing and timeless appeal of iron gates can benefit your home exterior.

One of the ways you could incorporate iron gates into your home is by installing a beautiful wrought iron gate at the entrance of your garden. This not only adds a touch of sophistication but also creates a sense of privacy and security.

To make a statement and create an enchanting atmosphere, you could install a gate on your driveway. For something more feasible, an arbor over the pathway to your front door would look charming complemented with an iron gate. Of course, this wouldn’t be a quick, easy, or inexpensive project, but if it fits your home style, it can be a transformative detail!

5. Think Outside the Box When It Comes to Your Driveway

There is certainly nothing wrong with a plain concrete driveway, but if you’re looking to stray from the traditional concrete look and try something with a bit more character, there are so many different things you could do. Why not think outside the box and have a custom-feeling driveway that speaks to the style of your home?

Inspired by the charming coastal town of Newport, pavers are just one popular idea. Plus, pavers come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing you to create a truly custom look. Of course, more custom options cost more money, so one feasible idea is to balance the style and cost by doing a concrete driveway with a paver border.

Whether it’s pavers, concrete with a paver border, brick, or pea gravel, all of these driveway ideas go a long way in making your home feel custom to you!

6. Embrace Window Grid Patterns

One of the design elements that I absolutely adore about Newport homes is the stunning window grid patterns found throughout the town. These patterns, whether intricate or simple, add history and visual interest to any home.

On our exterior, we opted for window grids that mimic the timeless look found in Newport’s historic homes. The grids not only enhance the architectural appeal of the windows but also create a sense of symmetry and balance in the space.

It’s not too late to incorporate window grid patterns into your home if you haven’t already. Here’s how you can add this unique and stylish design element without buying new windows: How I Made My Windows Look 10x Better in Less Than 25 Minutes

7. Set Up Stylish Seating Areas To Enjoy the View

Creating stylish seating areas at home is essential for enjoying the beautiful views that Newport has to offer. But even if you don’t have the same balcony overlooking the ocean or get to peer over a cliffside, why not set up a seating area that best takes advantage of what views you do have?

Whether your view is an ocean (lucky), trees, a modest garden, or a pretty view you have to create yourself, setting up these areas can enhance your design aesthetic and provide a serene space to relax. I loved seeing all the different ways you could set up a relaxing moment, and it inspired me to find several areas at my home to create different seating arrangements.

When setting up your seating area, arrange the furniture to maximize the view. Position chairs or sofas facing the window or balcony so you can easily gaze outside and take in the beauty of nature. If you have a small space, consider using folding chairs or benches that can be easily stored when not in use.

Adirondack chairs are a popular coastal pick, but add a personal touch to your space by choosing the seating that best represents your style, whether it’s a European bistro chair, a traditional wicker chair, or something completely different.

8. Vintage Furniture Never Goes Out of Style

Whether it was velvet furniture with fringe or a solid wood cupboard with inset doors, it was clear that vintage furniture never goes out of style. Wood pieces bring a sense of history and nostalgia to a space, and I’m not shying away from incorporating my thrifted furniture into my home.

What I love most about vintage furniture is its ability to tell a story. Every scratch, every worn spot, and every bit of patina has a tale to tell. It adds personality and depth to a home, making it feel lived-in and loved.

Whether it’s a vintage dresser, an accent chair, or a collection of vintage art, incorporating vintage furniture and decor pieces into your home is a way to express your individual style and create a space that is truly unique.

Related: French Country Furniture That Will Make Your Home Feel Like Provence

9. Landscaping Really Matters

Whether it’s simple with a few manicured boxwood bushes or a complex layered design, Newport reminded me how landscaping plays a crucial role in creating a truly stunning and inviting home.

The beautifully manicured gardens and well-maintained landscapes in Newport have reassured me that it’s worth the investment to put extra care and thought into my own landscaping – because it’s an investment, for sure!

But landscaping is more than just a way to beautify the exterior of a home. It creates a sense of harmony and tranquility that can be felt as soon as you step foot onto the property. By adding carefully chosen planters and layers of different plants, you can create texture and visual interest that mirrors the stunning gardens of Newport.

10. A Grandmillennial Style Works

If it was popular then and it’s popular now, then it’s clear that this style never really went out, it just gets rediscovered and popular again, as is the way of the trend cycle. A grandmillenial style is a “granny chic” look and combines the classic elegance of traditional design with vibrant colors and patterns.

To achieve a grandmillennial style, start by incorporating traditional furniture pieces with intricate detailing and classic silhouettes. Look for pieces with vintage-inspired fabrics, such as floral prints or chintz, to add a touch of nostalgia to your space. Mixing and matching different patterns and colors creates a layered and eclectic look.

When it comes to decor, embrace traditional elements such as chinoiserie, toile, and needlepoint. These vintage-inspired pieces will add a sense of charm and whimsy to your space.

11. Arches Make a Beautiful Impact

Arches are not just for your exterior and can be incorporated in more ways than you think. If you’re not building or renovating your home and don’t have the option to use them on the exterior, they can be created inside by arching a square hallway, or even incorporated by your use of decor and finishes.

One of the ways I incorporated arches into my home was by opting for an arched doorway for a beautiful and graceful entrance. The curved shape of the arches adds visual interest and architectural beauty, making a statement!

12. Sconces Can Go in Every Room

Living room? Of course. Library? Perfect. Bathroom? Still yes! From the kitchen to the dining room, sconces can be used to create a warm and inviting ambiance. They can be placed on the walls or above a bar or countertop to provide task lighting and add a stylish touch to the space.

In bathrooms, they can be placed on either side of the mirror to provide lighting for getting ready in the morning. Even better, they add a touch of sophistication and make the space feel more luxurious. Incorporating sconces into every room of your home allows you to create a cohesive and well-designed aesthetic.

Though we’ve hardwired 8 sconces in our home, nowadays there are plenty of battery-operated options, allowing you to get the look at a fraction of the cost.

13. Timeless Kitchen Materials Are Well, Timeless

A kitchen renovation is a big enough deal and expense that when you design it, you don’t want it to go out of style in a few years. That’s why it’s important to choose materials that not only look beautiful but also stand the test of time.

The mansions of Newport reminded me of the importance of selecting timeless kitchen materials that will never go out of style. Things like white tile, copper, natural surface materials, solid wood, and classic cabinetry all bring elegance and sophistication to any kitchen – while still feeling homey and lived-in.

Following Newport’s appreciation for classic design elements can help you create a kitchen that is not only beautiful but also functional and durable!

14. Don’t Be Afraid To Glam Up the Bathroom

The bathroom may be the last place you think to glam up. After all, some erm, dirty business happens in there. But whether you share the room with guests, children, or it’s a private oasis, why not make this hard-working room a place you enjoy being in?

You may think there’s not much to be done, but think again! To add a touch of glamour to your bathroom, start with the fixtures. Opt for sleek and elegant faucets and showerheads in a stylish finish like polished chrome, brass, or brushed nickel. Consider adding a statement piece, such as a freestanding bathtub or a luxurious vanity, to create a focal point in the room.

Don’t forget about the mirrors, which can add both functionality and style to your bathroom. Choose a statement mirror with a decorative frame to elevate the overall aesthetic. And you know what looks great next to a mirror? A stunning sconce or vanity light.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to play with textures and materials. Consider adding a touch of luxury with marble countertops or a glossy white backsplash. Incorporate plush towels, fresh flowers, and an oriental rug to create a cozy and comfortable feel.

These are all design elements I’m including in my own space, and by glamming up the bathroom, it’s transformed it into a stylish and inviting space that l love spending time in.

15. Seek Out Natural Materials (Marble Is Not the Worst Thing)

A lot of people are hesitant to incorporate natural materials into their homes, opting for LVP over wood flooring and manmade materials instead of marble.

Now if it’s a budget matter, that’s a different thing, and there is certainly a time and place to choose a faux material over the genuine one (I don’t have all “real” things), however, if it’s just coming from a fear of “the real thing”, there are many misconceptions out there that real materials, such as marble or wood are high-maintenance or too expensive.

Some of the prices are actually comparable, or not far too drastic in comparison. And if you’re okay with a little patina, then natural materials are not just something of the past. They have the power to transform any space into a timeless and elegant home now. If they work in these homes from the 1800s and still look good, then they can work for you!

Whether you incorporate one or all of these design inspiration ideas, each element has contributed to a space that reflects the timeless beauty of Newport. And since the Newport mansions have gathered a lot of their inspiration from Europe, you are channeling the timeless beauty from all around the world.

Now that you’ve got this design inspiration from Newport, how about we look to Europe for even more design ideas? Up Next: 18 Beautiful French Country Pendant Lighting Ideas for Your Home


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.