Douglas & Caryl's Worldly Zen-Inspired Home

Douglas & Caryl's Worldly Zen-Inspired Home

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Name: Caryl & Douglas Sickul
Location: Tiverton, Rhode Island
Size: 3,000 square feet
Years lived in: 7 years; owned

Continuity is the most important element in a home for Douglas and Caryl Sickul. “It has to feel like it all belongs together,” says Douglas, who has been designing and building homes for 35 years. Douglas’ passion for creating inspiring spaces has lead the Sickuls to move a dozen times in their almost-50 years of marriage. “Doug would see a piece of land and get a vision and want to build a house,” Caryl explains.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

The concept for their Tiverton, Rhode Island home, situated on 3.7 pastoral acres, was serenity and connecting with nature. As with all of the houses he has built, Douglas hand-picked all of the wood used throughout the interior. “The materials themselves affect us," he explains. “I worked at it so everything feels like it keeps flowing along. Nothing stops you, jars you, or hits you in the face as you walk by. It all flows.”

Curved lines both inside and outside the home, inspired by Zen and Japanese design, make the house softer. “The intention is for the house and garden to flow as one,” Caryl elaborates. “The sun, moon, and earth are elliptical, as are the features of land and faces. ‘All is one’ as the Dalai Lama says.”

The element of fluidity lends itself beautifully to Caryl’s life and work as a dancer and yoga instructor. A large 18’ x 36’ studio, with a wall of windows on two sides, provides an inspiring space for Caryl to dance and guide students through Vinyasa yoga classes.

Caryl’s long career as a dance professor – her area of expertise is sacred and ritual dance and yoga – provided a life of adventure for the Sickuls. Her research sabbaticals sent the couple to Africa, Australia, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Mexico and New Guinea, where they observed performances, community ceremonies and events that Caryl would later share with her students. The ethnographic art displayed throughout their home reflects the deep impression these travel experiences made on their life. “People make the things they cherish,” Douglas says while pointing to a mask he and Caryl watched a little old man hand-carve in New Guinea. “Once you see that, and feel that, the objects you take home from there are just different.”

The continuity Douglas and Caryl seek in a home carries over from their work into their life. Creative expression is fluidly woven into the fabric of their everyday existence. Making their artistic pursuits a priority has given these septuagenarians the energy and glow of newlyweds half their age.

Note: A previous version of this story described Caryl & Douglas' art collection as primitive.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Seaside New England Cottage with Zen-Asian influences

Inspiration: Asian temples, zen, yoga, world travel, dancing, light and seasons.

Favorite Element: Gentle curves inside and out, wood shingles, windows wood inside with baked on aluminum outside, stone retaining walls with river rocks.

Biggest Challenge: Blending openness with individual spaces. Blending agriculture which surrounds with individual housing.

What Friends Say: “Your spacious home makes me feel calm, peaceful, and serene. I have feelings of freedom, openness and lightness.”

Biggest Embarrassment: We don’t have embarrassments.

Proudest DIY: House and landscape design and building.

Biggest Indulgence: The garden

Best Advice: Continuity and flow inside and out, so the house feels like it belongs to you, itself and the neighborhood.

Dream Sources: We are open to all sources. Beauty appears all around, often in the most unexpected places.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Resources of Note:


  • Textiles and sculptures from Bail, India, Africa. Places traveled during Caryl’s sabbaticals from college teaching in Wellness and Sacred Dance
  • 165’ of continuous windows upstairs and down
  • 5 curved teak roots incorporated into fireplace, kitchen counter and ceiling


  • Bamboo floors.
  • Wrought Iron sculpture candelabra 5 ft long
  • Pakastani tribal tent entry rug
  • Piano shaped sectional couch
  • Double opening flueless gas fireplace edged with purple heart wood, granite rough sculpted and smooth edges
  • 18 ‘ Ceiling holds three 4’x2’ skylights softly lighting living room, dining room and kitchen


  • 11’ natural pine table, designed and built for the room
  • Light fixture made from kudzu vine
  • Huichol yarn painting from a tribe in the hills of Mexico
  • New Guinea ceremonial mask
  • Adirondack mask lamps
  • Australian Dream dot painting


  • Bamboo and purple heart cabinets surrounded with dark green edging
  • Green and wine granite countertops
  • 3 Hand blown glass bell shaped lights, lavender with light green swirls, over sink and counter
  • Multiple lights focused up and down
  • Pantry
  • Electrolux appliances


  • Headboard designed and made of redwood reused natural slab
  • Cloth Mandala from Bhutan hanging over bed
  • Masai wedding skirt and necklace wall hangings
  • Multiple closets


  • Natural beach stone granite countertops
  • Jacuzzi tub and shower focused outside to a field
  • Natural light through continuous large windows for 12’
  • Wave shaped mirror 8’ long over sinks bringing nature indoors


  • Yoga Studio 18’ x 36’ with mirrors for private, semi-private session and small classes. This is also a personal dance rehearsal space for Caryl.
  • Hammock from Oaxaca, Mexico.
  • Upstairs full bathroom has an interior skylight capturing natural light into the room.
  • Light also enters from above from the glass front doors and exterior skylights in the living room.
  • Curvilinear drive 300’ from the road contains a landscaped circle
  • Large natural stones are entry steps, surrounded with beach stones mirroring a river and water-zen garden
  • Two storage sheds are attached to the side of the house
  • Poplar window and door trim inside
  • Mahogany exterior trim surrounds doors and windows outside including entry arched ceiling
  • Open covered porch with stairway to ground contains built in folding tables
  • The spaces where we spend the most time have cathedral ceilings, largest windows (solar gain) and skylights with panoramic and long views of crops, fields, nature, birds and animals. The downstairs is cooler in summer and at night for sleeping, AC is rarely necessary. It also holds in heat in winter as half the walls downstairs are insulated by the earth.
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Thanks, Douglas & Caryl!

• HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE: Check out past house tours here.
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
• Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.

Follow Apartment Therapy's board House Tours Apartment Therapy on Pinterest.

Updated daily with fresh tours full of photos for you to pin & enjoy!

moving--truck moving--dates moving--dolly moving--house moving--cal Created with Sketch. moving--apt