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The owners of this North Kingston, R.I., home had seen a house by custom builder Gardner Woodrights that featured English chestnut cabinets. So when the couple met with Randy Gardner they requested the use of that particular wood. English chestnut isn't cheap, however, so Gardner and Cumberland, R.I.-based architect Gregory J. Snider devised a plan that showcased the wood's rich grain and warm color in a 16-foot-long window seat surrounded by matching bookshelves. “The window seat is longer than the room is wide,” says Gardner, “so it really dominates the space.”

The window seat (along with the rest of the casework) was fabricated off site as a single unit. The bench is long enough for two to stretch out, while swivel lights above the bookcases on either end make for easy reading. The recessed panel detail is repeated throughout the library and the radius of the curve exactly mimics the arches on the adjacent front porch. Gardner feels those mirrored curves really create a special place. “They make the room look like it extends beyond the wall,” he says.