Chris & Kristen's Artists' Retreat

House Tour

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Name: Kristen Coates and Chris Wyllie
Location: Newport, Rhode Island
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; rented

Kristen Coates loves to have a home full of guests. She and partner Chris Wyllie, both artists who divide their time between New York and Rhode Island, had entertaining in mind when they moved into their spacious third-floor apartment in the heart of Newport above their gallery Egg + Dart. They imagined their home as an artists’ retreat for themselves and their friends, some of whom show work in their Manhattan art gallery Coates Wyllie.

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The airy, light-filled space is the perfect place for an artist to unwind. A ten-foot square window that overlooks Bellevue Avenue is the first thing you notice as you enter the drawing room. There is art — big and small, in books and on ledges — nearly everywhere you turn. The high ceilings and ample wall space keep the apartment from feeling cluttered and make it possible to display large artwork, including several of Chris’ figurative and narrative subjects painted on vintage doors. Kristen, best known for her creative fashion collections and full-sized teepees, adds warmth to the space with simple designs like a bundle of sticks with brightly painted edges and a hand-dyed tablecloth draped over the dining room table, a Coates family heirloom.  

The couple has a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to hosting. They enjoy putting out a beautiful spread of food and wine and insist that friends come and go at will, help themselves to anything in the fridge and, most importantly, relax and feel at home. “It’s like summer camp, but better, because there are no rules,” says Wyllie.

In order to have room for more visitors, they recently took over a second floor apartment in their building. They also own a renovated houseboat they use as a creative outlet and a place for entertaining. “Newport is a special place and our home is very open and comfortable,” explains Coates. “Friends come for a day or two and end up staying a week or longer once here. We have the gallery and the garden and the boat in addition to the apartment itself, and inspiration springs from all places.” 

And it’s hard to not feel inspired by Chris and Kristen themselves; the perfectly suited pair has mastered the art of living well. To the benefit of those who surround them, they thrive on sharing the wealth. 

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style:  A mixture of modern and vintage with bohemian spirit. Our roots are clearly in New England, but our ideas are way up in the sky.

Inspiration:  As artists that split our time between Newport and New York, we have a lot to draw from on our day-to-day. Everything seems to inspire, from meadows and seascapes to graffiti on the subway.  We find a lot in our friends and our other friends, books.

Favorite Element:  The living and dining areas leave a lot of room for what the space was meant for — relaxation and casual entertaining.  We love to put out a big spread of food and wine, and guests come and go as they like and there’s lots of room to unwind, nap, read, or play games.

Biggest Challenge:  Keeping the balance of heat and moisture throughout the year so the living room gardens stay happy and fresh. Or maybe maintaining such an old house. There are no square corners left — floors bob and weave, creating ripples and ramps, and the windows rattle so loudly we find great use for match books come fall.

What Friends Say:  OH MY!  Look at this window!  And then they give the biggest compliment, that our home is perfectly us.  

Biggest Embarrassment:  We still don’t have any plans for window treatments and anything we’ve picked up or tried we end up taking down to preserve the light… so we have a few shades from Ace Hardware for privacy.

Proudest DIY:  Combining two households of furniture, and incorporating all of our art and mementos into the décor and keeping it all our style without compromising space or making anything overly cluttered. Or Chris’ window pane coffee table.

Biggest Indulgence: Books and art. 

Best Advice: Make a house a home by filling it with all the things you love.   

Dream Sources:  Travel, yard sales, reading, Pinterest. 

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Hall: Muralo, Dusty Blush
  • Living Room: Muralo, November Rain
  • Bathroom: Muralo, Nautical Navy

ENTRY

  • Portrait: Great Grandfather Lockwood, Family Heirloom

LIVING ROOM/DINING ROOM

  • Painting on mantel: She’s 22, by Chris Wyllie
  • Foldout art history timeline on the mantel: Tate Museum
  • Painting behind sofa (left): Smoking in Bed, by Chris Wyllie
  • Painting behind sofa (right): Girl with Diamonds and Flowers, by Chris Wyllie
  • Painted bundled sticks: Bundle by Kristen Coates
  • Drawing: My Teepee or Yours?, framed gift from friend
  • Photograph of twins: Kristen’s grandmother and her sister, Joan and Nancy Lockwood
  • Watercolor painting in glass vase: Tepee by Kate Wight
  • Pine cone with tiny note: Egg & Dart
  • Painting (above bookcase, left of mantel): Untitled, by Kristen Coates
  • Painting (right of picture window): By The Pool, by America Martin
  • Coffee Table: Repurposed windows by Chris Wyllie
  • Owl print: Picasso Museum of Switzerland
  • Pair of side tables: Found and refinished by Chris Wyllie
  • Pair of antique lamps: Roadside Antiques in Pennsylvania
  • Dining Table: Family Heirloom
  • Hand dyed Table Linens: Egg & Dart by Kristen Coates
  • Dining Chairs: Family Heirloom updated with reupholstered seats and dip painted backs by Chris Wyllie
  • Sofa: West Elm
  • Sea Grass Area Rug: IKEA
  • Antique Champagne Bucket Planter: Egg & Dart
  • Mercury Glass Tea Light Holders: West Elm
  • Antique candlesticks: Various yard sales
  • Art: X-Ray Light by Chris Wyllie
  • Woven Planters: IKEA and yard sale
  • Cutout of boy: street artist Army of One (Jef Campion)

KITCHEN

  • Antique Table: Acquired with the apartment
  • Antique Marble Top Dresser Bar: Acquired with the apartment
  • Fish Tureen: Family Heirloom
  • Panda Head Lantern: Rob Pruitt
  • Drawing of girl with mask: Gift from friend

BEDROOM

  • Dresser: Acquired with the apartment
  • Wardrobe: Acquired with the apartment
  • Painting on refrigerator door: Chicky Boom Ba by Chris Wyllie
  • Drawing above bed: Ganesha by Chris Wyllie
  • Round Side Table: Maison140, NYC
  • Woven Denim Area Rug: Anthropologie
  • Antique Writing Desk: Family Heirloom
  • Typewriter: Mantiques, NYC
  • Mercury Glass Lamp with Shade: Unknown
  • Red carafe and glass : Gift from friend
  • Gold camera:  Lomography, NYC
  • Antique Chairs: Family Heirlooms
  • Leather messenger bag: J. Crew
  • Frosted Window: Best Home Fashion Non-Adhesive Privacy Film
  • Bed/Bedframe: Sleepy’s
  • Linens: West Elm
  • Floor Lamp: West Elm
  • Seashell lamp: Family Arts & Crafts piece
  • Wood side table: Family Heirloom
  • Antique Easel: Egg & Dart
  • Painting: Landscape by Chris Wyllie

GUEST BEDROOM

  • Dresser: Acquired with the apartment
  • Bed: West Elm, maybe ... I can’t remember!
  • Linens: West Elm
  • Persian Area Rug: Family Heirloom
  • Ornaments hanging from window shade:  Chris Wyllie, from his annual Christmas show
  • Polaroids: Kristen Coates
  • Office organizer: Pottery Barn
  • Prints in organizer: Gifts from my Kristen’s mother

BATHROOM

  • Step Ladder Shelf (Towel Rack): Egg & Dart by Chris Wyllie
  • Shower Shelf: Egg & Dart by Chris Wyllie
  • Pouf: Target
  • Linens: West Elm
  • Apothecary: Farmaesthetics
  • Shirt Collar on toilet: Chris Wyllie
  • Small plate with crystal on toilet: Gifts from friend
  • Painting: Paige Williamson
  • Print: Djordje Ozbolt


EGG + DART

  • Pink bike:  Bought from a farmer's shed in Middletown, RI
  • Artwork: Rambler Geminis

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Thanks, Chris & Kristen!

(Images: Jacqueline Marque)

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