Amy & Peter’s Minimalist Home with Latin American Roots

published Oct 2, 2015
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Name: Peter & Amy Dorrien Traisci, sons Luca (4) and Theodore (2), and cat, Bigote (Spanish for “mustache”)
Location: Newport, Rhode Island
Size: 5 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented

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I often dream of living in a clutter-free, minimalist-style house, but one that still feels warm, inviting, and playful. It’s no wonder, then, that I fell hard for the Newport, Rhode Island abode that Amy and Peter call home. Of course, you should expect no less from a couple who lived in Spain and Argentina, and who have traveled extensively through Europe and Latin America. They made it their mission to acquire meaningful and beautiful pieces throughout their travels (the fruits of their labor are evident throughout) and to raise their two gorgeous boys in their minimal, worldly, and light-soaked casa.

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Their shingled three-story home is located on the school campus where Amy teaches. (Image credit: Emily Billings)
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Born from the spirits of artists and travelers, Amy and Peter brought their worldly sensibilities and curated take on a vagabond’s abode to Rhode Island, along with textiles, ephemera, hides, rugs, and other pieces picked up during their travels. The Spanish teaching duo’s record player serenades guests with the sounds of Latin America while glorious amounts of natural sunlight brighten and permeate throughout.

Their home is about movement; objects and furniture are often relocated and new pieces come, go, and move around the home just as much as the family members themselves do. To them, travel is vital. Described as a constant work-in-progress, the home continues to evolve as the young family acquires pieces and collects memories.

Amy and Peter have achieved simple minimalism while avoiding an environment that feels sterile. Their passion and enthusiasm for both collecting and designing is ever-present throughout their home. The space is just as sophisticated as it is comfortable. Each room is painted a neutral hue, which serves as a perfect background for the many treasures the couple has amassed over the years. Décor is precious without feeling off-limits, which gives the home a livable and personal atmosphere. Surrounding themselves with keepsakes from people and places they love keeps the couple content and inspired. I am sure this will translate to their boys as they grow older and learn to fully appreciate the treasures their parents have collected and the deep meaning behind each piece, all of which have turned this house into their home.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: It’s hard to classify our style because it seems to be continually evolving. Without going in too minimalist of a direction, we have really been trying to cut down on the amount of stuff we have and focus on a more neutral palette. That being said, we have a lot of personal things that we have collected over the years that lend the house character. We have lived in Spain and Argentina and traveled quite a bit around Europe and Latin America. The pieces we bring home from our trips really make our house feel like a home.

Inspiration: Old farmhouses, Scandinavian design, and our parents.

Favorite Element: The natural light upstairs and in our dining room. Our porch is also glorious three seasons a year.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping things simple without creating a sterile environment for our children.

What Friends Say: Our friends comment most on the artwork and rugs that Amy’s father gave us from Turkey and Mexico.

Biggest Embarrassment: We are not motivated at all when it comes to window treatments.

Proudest DIY: Our children 🙂 Our favorite DIY is not something we made ourselves. We really love the bar cart in the dining room, which was made by Amy’s great-uncle and has been passed down through the family.

Biggest Indulgence: We had our dining room table made to order. We looked everywhere for a table that would suit the space, but ultimately decided to have one made by a local furniture maker. The entire process was so gratifying. We went to his workshop and got to choose the style, the finish, the legs, everything. We envision many years of meals with friends and family, our little ones doing homework, and loads of messy art projects.

Best Advice: Invest in art. Also, allow your style to evolve over time, continually adding things and taking others away. I don’t think we would ever want to feel completely done decorating our house.

Dream Sources: We would love to go back to Argentina for more antique rugs. Other dream sources would be Ian Ingersoll, ABC Carpet & Home, Farrow & Ball, Calliope (in New York), and a moon painting by Stella Maria Baer.


(Image credit: Emily Billings)

PAINT & COLORS (All Sherwin-Williams)

  • Entry, living room, hall, second and third floor landings: Neutral Ground
  • Dining room: Sedate Gray
  • Kitchen: Westhighland White
  • Master bedroom: White Duck
  • Luca’s bedroom (above): Eider White
  • Theodore’s bedroom: Neutral Ground
  • Guest room : White Duck
  • Second floor bath: Sea Salt
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Hall chair: We saw this when we were purchasing a couch secondhand from a family in Massachusetts. We had just moved back from Buenos Aires and had absolutely no money, so Peter’s mother bought it for us for $20. Now it is one of our favorite pieces in the house.
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Gray sofa: Room & Board
  • Blue loveseat: West Elm
  • Coffee table: antique cobbler’s bench that Amy purchased from a thrift store and refinished
  • Bench: Chinese antique, given to us by Amy’s father
  • Large painting: Carlos Dorrien
  • Small print over couch: Wilfredo Chiesa, given to us for our wedding
  • Bob Dylan painting: Asher Wood
  • Rug: Ikea
  • Mirror over fireplace: antique
  • Children’s desk: thrifted
  • Brown blanket: Mexico
  • Gray blanket: Klippan
  • Floor lamp: Home Goods
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Table: Lorimer Workshop
  • Chairs: Restoration Hardware
  • Restored cane back chair: purchased from a prop stylist in Vermont
  • Hutch: Chinese antique
  • Bar cart: family heirloom
  • Cabinet: Chinese antique
  • Highchair: Stokke
  • Children’s table: made by Amy’s father when she was a child
  • Cowhide: purchased at a livestock show when we lived in Buenos Aires
  • Pendant lamp: West Elm
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Children’s table: Pottery Barn
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Long dresser: West Elm
  • Blue dresser: consignment shop
  • Bookshelf: consignment shop
  • Hemingway quote print: Chelsea Petaja
  • Mirror: Mexico
  • Duvet: Restoration Hardware
  • Pillows: Matteo
  • Stool: gift from Amy’s mother
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Toddler bed: Jenny Lind
  • Dresser: We purchased this at a consignment shop and painted it with milk paint (our friends are laughing at us as they read this).
  • US map: The Land of Nod
  • Rocking chair: Chariho Furniture
  • Green chair: The Land of Nod
  • Planet mobile: Pottery Barn
  • Blanket: Coyuchi
  • Planet print: given to us by Luca and Theodore’s beloved nanny, from the RISD museum store
  • All other art/décor: collected on our travels, mostly from Mexico, where Luca spent his first Christmas
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Crib: Babyletto Hudson
  • Dresser: consignment shop
  • Chair: Crate & Barrel
  • Rug: a gift from Amy’s father, from Mexico
  • Teepee: House Inhabit
  • Blue table: borrowed/stolen from Amy’s parents
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Step stool: gift from Peter’s parents
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Bed: Crate & Barrel
  • Rug: Mexico
  • Table: Ikea
  • Blanket: Calvin Klein
  • Lamp: Ikea
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Table: Home Depot

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Thanks, Peter, Amy, Luca, Theo, and Bigo!