Jill & Dan’s Lighthearted Home

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Name: Dan, Jill, Grey and Taavi Ritacco and their dog Apple
Location: North Kingstown, Rhode Island
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: almost 3 years; owned

Written in chalk above the bathroom door are the words, “Artistry + Function + Simplicity = This Home.” It’s a fitting mission statement for Jill and Dan Ritacco’s small Rhode Island cape, which was gutted and revitalized by the couple themselves. From the drywall to the furnishings, Dan and Jill have built most of what you see in their 1200-square-foot home. Jill, an artist who studied printmaking and painting, and Dan, a wooden boat builder, aptly call their personal style “we can make anything.”

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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

When the couple was house hunting three years ago, their priority was to live in a good school district, but their budget was tight. “We felt that we could make any house our own, so the architecture was not all that important. This house simply met our price and location needs,” says Jill. While it was hard for most people to see past the dilapidated kitchen, knotty pine wall panels, and blue shag carpet, Jill and Dan were thrilled to find that it had a good roof, septic system, siding and insulation. “This allowed us to make it our own because the inside needed some serious TLC,” Jill explains.

One of the first things you see when you enter the house is an illuminated handmade sign that reads “Make Taccos.” Leftover from Dan’s 30th birthday party, which featured a taco bar, and a play on their last name, the sign sets the tone for the humor and artistry you will find throughout this happy abode. Painted jellyfish swim up hallway walls, polka dots decorate Taavi’s tiny bedroom nook, and a mural covers the entire kitchen ceiling.

With a can-do attitude and plenty of talent between the two of them, Dan and Jill have tackled the making of their home with a true DIY spirit and a whole lot of lighthearted fun. The house is filled with homemade furniture: bed frames, a kitchen table with bench seating, an island with a bicycle wheel holding pots and pans underneath. Thanks to Dan’s clever use of built-in storage and space-saving solutions throughout the house – a skill honed through years of building wooden boats – everything is tucked away neatly on shelves and carved into nooks and crannies. And it helps that they also try to live simply: “We are always trying to live with less. The house looks cleaner that way. We are not big fans of spending time cleaning,” Jill explains, “We like to play instead!” In the Ritacco home, artistry + function + simplicity = happiness.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: “Salvaged/ we can make anything” style.

Inspiration: Blogs, paint chips, nature, films, art, and weird stuff!

Favorite Element: Opening up the floor plan..

Biggest Challenge: Making/ finding everything on our non-existent budget.

What Friends Say: Wow.

Biggest Embarrassment: The drywall we put up. Our seams are terrible!

Proudest DIY: The whole house.

Biggest Indulgence: Our $60 green chair from the Brimfield Antique Show.

Best Advice: A house always needs work and is never finished.

Dream Sources: Salvage yards, antique shows/stores, eBay, and local lumber yards

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Resources of Note:


  • Kitchen: Sherwin Williams: bittersweet chocolate
  • Living room: Oops paint
  • Bathroom: Chalkboard paint
  • Den: Valspar: Field Poppy (orange stripe)
  • Guestroom: Behr: Pure white
  • Dan & Jill’s bedroom: Valspar: Pirates Treasure
  • Taavi’s Landing: mixed ourselves
  • Grey’s bedroom: Sherwin Williams: Sherwin Williams


  • Neon pink stool: Target
  • Black windows: salvaged
  • Black frame: India
  • “R”: antique shop on Martha’s Vineyard


  • Sofa: Craigslist DIY/ Etsy fabric
  • Bench/coffee table: Grandfather made it
  • Blue floral chair: craigslist
  • Arched light: our own Ikea hack
  • Chrome Chinese stool: Homegoods
  • Lloyd green chair: Brimfield Antique Show
  • Cobbler’s bench: Grandfather made it
  • Rolling cart: roadside find
  • Wood stove: Lennox flash combustion woodstove
  • Hearth: cement board and stone tile


  • Booth: homemade
  • Table: homemade
  • Art: Jill’s litho prints from college
  • Shalom needle point: grandfather


  • Jill painted the ceiling
  • Ikea freestanding units
  • Summit fridge
  • Homemade Island with salvaged bicycle rim
  • Kegerator from beveragefactory.com


  • Daybeds: homemade
  • Jar light: homemade
  • Table: salvaged legs, Formica table top
  • Filing Cabinet: bank estate sell
  • Cabinet: Ikea
  • Rocking chair: family heirloom
  • Desk chair: made from two different chairs
  • Orange ottomans: from Denmark, purchased at Brimfield Antique Show
  • Rug: Homegoods
  • Orange flying machine painting: amily heirloom
  • Art: Evan Mann (friend)
  • Art: Josh House (friend)


  • Bed: homemade from old studs out of our walls
  • Washer/dryer: LG Sears
  • Side table: spiffed up hand-me-down
  • White painting: Jill’s


  • Chalkboard paint
  • Hooks: Anthropologie
  • Ball jar light: Homemade
  • Art: friends


  • Bed- homemade
  • Duvet-homemade
  • Art- Evan Mann (friend)
  • Art- Grey’s art
  • Gray dresser- grandma’s refurbished sock drawers


  • Crib: Babies R Us with pottery barn changing pad
  • Blue chair: Craigslist
  • Lamp: homemade
  • Art: homemade
  • Mobile: homemade
  • Saw horse: grandfather’s


  • Bed Nook: homemade
  • Shelf- homemade
  • Dresser- Family heirloom
  • Coo coo clock- Family heirloom from Germany
  • Desk: Craigslist
  • Floor pillow: Homegoods
  • Giraffe: Montreal gift shop
  • Rug: Job Lot
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Thanks, Jill & Dan!

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