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DESIGN & DECOR A Balanced Homelife Monique Sabatino of Balanced Interiors shares her unique spin on turning a house into a home. B Y K A I T LY N M U R R AY | P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y M I C H A E L L E F E B V R E “We used to call ourselves Narragansett wannabes,” says Monique Sabatino, owner of Balanced Interiors. She and her husband, Mike, met while attending the University of Rhode Island and thus once spent many a day by the ocean. “Upon graduation, we said someday we’d be back to live in this beach community.” Thirty years and three children later, they made good on that promise when they came across a “diamond in the rough” property within Narragansett’s coastal Bonnet Shores neighborhood. Built in 1930, the two-bedroom, one-bath property had been on the market for two years. “It was as though it was waiting for us,” she recalls. “My husband turned to me when seeing it for the first time and asked, ‘Can you do anything with this?’” Sabatino, who established Balanced Interiors after graduating RISD’s interior design program in the early 2000’s, answered with a resounding ‘yes.’ There was plenty of work to be done. “We were urged by contractors to knock the house down and start all over, but 18    RHODE ISLAND MONTHLY’S NEST | 2020 we really wanted to preserve the charm of yesteryear that beckoned us here,” she says. The house had good bones and we wanted to avoid unnecessary waste.” And so, they kept the large field stone fireplace, fir floors and cottage-style woodwork intact while opting to gut and renovate the kitchen and bathroom in order to make the property livable for a couple of summers. Then, once they sold their home in Lincoln and decided to turn the South County property into a year-round home, they employed Kettelle Building Movers and O’Hearne Home Development to put on an addition in the form of a new basement, construct a master suite and expand the sunroom. “Having downsized from our home of twenty years, we wanted a home that wasn’t too big for the two of us but big enough to welcome our adult children home whenever they needed a landing pad. Adding the addition under the existing house really made the whole project come together,” she says. “And then we love the outdoors, so having a yard to garden in, patios to relax on and enjoy and space for the dog to roam were just as important to us.”