Designs for Living


This house had a challenging layout due to years of multiple additions. Brett Johnson, working alongside a team of painters, draftspeople, carpenters, and craftspeople, opened up and reconfigured the eat-in kitchen and living room, making the best of quirky ceiling heights to create a space that is as functional for day-to-day living as it is for entertaining.

Johnson selected a palette of natural fabrics, carpets, and wall coverings to bring harmony to the space, and carefully chose pieces of art from the client’s own collection. Built-ins designed by Maine Street Design Co. and brought to life by Zoulamis Fine Woodworking embrace the Shaker ideal “a place for everything and everything in its place.” A stone fireplace by Freshwater Stone anchors the living room, and every piece of upholstered furniture was custom- designed in house, “right-sized for the space and brilliantly executed by our talented Maine workrooms,” says Johnson.

New energy-efficient windows open the rooms up and provide unobstructed views of the fields and bay beyond, bringing the landscape in as its own design element.

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Brewster Point is a 120-acre rural enclave in Rockport with sweeping views of the Atlantic. Debbie Chatfield’s goal was to stage an original house on the property (which has been split into lots for sale as part of the development) to help potential homebuyers envision what a home of their own here would look like.

“Using a mix of antiques, art, and upholstery, I was intent on making all of the furnishings on the first floor comfortable and inviting,” she says. In the entrance foyer, a mirror and English table flanked by two chairs give visitors a place to take off their coats and boots. “I wanted it to look elegant and not so much like a mudroom but still perform all of the duties that a mudroom does.” In the library, comfortable club chairs in a floral print and an antique grandfather clock give the space an elegant, traditional feel.

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DESIGNER: ARIANA FISCHER | ARIANA FISCHER INTERIOR DESIGN    Ariana Fischer’s clients, a young professional couple from D.C., go to their house in Rockport to restore themselves from their hectic urban life. “The house is small,” says Fischer, “which normally can be limiting, but the interiors were designed to create intimate spaces.” Fischer gave each space a distinct intention: a room for him to relax and watch a game in, a room for her to sit by the fire and read in, a dining room that accommodates the many family members and friends who cycle through.

In a children’s bedroom, yellow beds by Schoolhouse Electric pop against white walls and bedding. Fischer says, “This was all about balancing extremes—bold color and monochromatic elements— while embracing the joy and spontaneity of children.”

An expert in mixing styles, Fischer has seamlessly blended traditional furniture with contemporary art. The result is a home that honors traditional Maine style as well as the youth and sophistication of its owners.

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Louise Hurlbutt and Ilyse Sandler’s clients wanted their home to be a comfortable, family-oriented, and casual retreat from their busy lives.

Working alongside Spang Builders and Winkelman Architecture, Hurlbutt Designs transformed an outdated ranch into an updated beachside haven. Transom windows were added above French doors, and the roof was raised to accommodate a cathedral ceiling and beams. This opened up the plan in the kitchen, dining room, and living room to focus on the views of the ocean and beach at Pine Point overlooking Prout’s Neck. “These views were the inspiration for the sky blue and sea-grass green palette in fabrics, furniture, and the sisal rug,” says Hurlbutt. “We chose nautical accessories to enhance the look by selecting sea-glass-green orb lamps in the living room, chart wallpaper in the powder room, and brass cabin lights in the bunk room.” Centered in the living room is a grand custom beach-stone fireplace by Brian Fairfield, which sets the tone for the cottage.

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When Krista Stokes first saw the Brooklyn townhouse of Michael Diamond (better known as Mike D of the Beastie Boys), she fell in love. “I loved the delicate dance of modern furnishings, his quirky vintage items and eclectic art collection— all fitting within this beautiful restored home that did not shy away from highlighting its age or architectural details,” she says. Stokes knew one day the right client would cross her path. Enter builder Geoff Bowley, who hired Stokes to design his new home.

“Considering this was a new build versus an old home remodel,” Stokes says, “we strived to create a space that embraced its modernity while also reflecting the owners’ varied interests and fun personalities.” When it came to furnishings and finishes, Stokes took a fearless approach: big and bold graphic patterns (like this modern take on traditional damask wallpaper by Fruits of Design) with indulgent fabrics, unexpected splashes of color mixed with bright whites, and vibrant wallpapers and wood treatments to add interest and lightheartedness.

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Built in 1909 and once home to a bustling department store, the Bussell and Weston Co. building in Augusta is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places for its architectural significance.

In 2013 the 12,000-square-foot building received a dramatic facelift. Local real estate developer J and R Associates hired Laura Gall of Spaces by LLG to design and manage the major overhaul of what was once a relatively untouched commercial building.

“From the moment we walked in the door, we could feel the energy the building once offered to downtown Augusta,” says Gall. Gall’s vision for the space was driven by the serene views of the Kennebec River and Old Fort Western, a grassy knoll across the river. “All too often, loft-style apartments dwarf furnishings and feel cold, so we wanted to make sure that our design was inviting and warm while we maintained the original 12-foot ceilings, exposed brick, and most importantly, the large sightlines of the Chicago-style windows.”

An open-concept kitchen features exposed brick painted white, thick pine wood shelving, extra-tall white cabinets, and granite countertops. With a focus on creating a separate living space within the open-concept loft, Gall designed a built-in bookcase along a massive 17-foot wall in the living area. The colors from Martha Burkert’s painting Saltwater Farm from Elizabeth Moss Galleries drove the color palette throughout, and a down-filled charcoal gray sectional from Bernhardt and a geometric rug from Dash and Albert help carve out the seating area.

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For Leandra Fremont-Smith, this project began with a handsome shingle-style home whose living and family rooms were in need of a fresh update for a busy mother of four. “The goal was to install a contemporized scheme while using the client’s collection of beautiful antiques and traditional furniture,” says Fremont-Smith. Her challenge: to combine the traditional with the contemporary, in just the right harmonious way.

For the family room, Fremont-Smith and her client fell in love with a whimsical chinoiserie dragon print from Schumacher, which set the tone for the space. The Far East style continued through fretwork details, porcelain Foo dog accessories, silver drum bamboo side tables, and blue and white porcelain prints over the fireplace mantel.

The elegant living room evolved directly from the existing medallion, Federal-style rug—a Stark design that was specifically made for the room in a color combination of black, gold, green, and raspberry. White linen curtains were detailed with a classic tassel fringe along the leading edge, and club chairs were reupholstered in a black fabric and detailed with brass nail heads along the outside. The glass coffee table allows guests to see the festive colors below, while the gilded rectangular base complements the geometric styling in the rug.

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All of Linda Banks’s interior design projects begin with what she calls a “driver”—often one piece: a painting, rug, or favorite object that defines the design direction. In this John Calvin Stevens home in Portland’s West End, an abstract oil painting by Erik Knight was the driver. “We had so many rooms with big blank walls,” she says. “Unlike so many of the newer homes with open plans, this home allowed us to display the wonderful paintings in the many individual rooms.” Banks created a relaxed backdrop with a calming palette to show off the homeowners’ art collection, some of which they already had and some of which they were actively in the process of collecting.

According to Banks, the dining room was a blank white-plaster “canvas” that lacked architectural character and needed a new lighting plan. With a little persuading, her clients agreed to divide the height of the room. By adding wall molding, Banks designed a wainscot 39 inches above the finished floor. “Incorporating this architectural feature created character and integrity,” she says. Recessed lighting coupled with a classic chandelier and wall sconces set an elegant tone, complemented beautifully by the vibrant painting by artist Erik Knight.

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Overlooking Portland’s Payson Park, a shuttered chapel was reimagined and renovated into a 4,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home. The basic shell of the building had vaulted ceilings flanked by tall arched windows that allow volumes of soothing natural light to spill in. As Tina Richardson and her team worked on adapting the space, they sought to preserve traces of its original spirit, both as a place of reflection and as a place to connect with friends and family. “We also wanted to honor its history as a place of celebration, imagining a space that could be dressed to stunning effect for the holidays or formal events,” says Richardson.

She started by introducing the essential residential elements in a way that was conducive to the midcentury construction of the building and consistent with other turn-of-the-century New England chapels. “We let the kitchen lead the design, placing it where the altar once was and furnishing it with strong, distinctive pieces that wouldn’t be dwarfed by the lofty space.” A La Cornue CornuFé range with copper accents takes center stage, and richly detailed cabinetry was laid out across three islands and capped by laminated marble countertops. Throughout the building, period elements like the pendant lights and exposed beams were preserved, and others, such as the dramatic stairway and second-floor balcony, were imagined and built to appear as though they’ve been there all along.

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Megan and Marcy van der Kieft had just 10 months to transition an inherited ’80s contemporary house that was accessorized with oak antiques into a transitional space reflective of a young family wanting to escape the Texas heat. “Sea glass was the repetitive reference when choosing colors for the interior,” says Megan. “When we first started the project, the clients steered away from the traditional navy, white, and reds that typically lend themselves to the coastline of Maine.”

A couple of coats of Decorators White on the walls and ceilings made an ideal blank canvas for the family’s furnishings and artwork, some of which was selected with the help of local art consultant Heather Hearst.

“Using a few existing furniture pieces for sentimental reasons, we were able to infuse more contemporary works of art and furniture into the space using colors, finishes, and fabrics,” says Megan.

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“In this historic home where warmth and charm abound, the homeowners found themselves congregating in the small screened-in porch,” says Nicki Bongiorno. While the views to the lush backyard are magnetizing, the room could not fit the four generations of family and friends that regularly wished to gather there. Bongiorno sought to create a space that would triple the size of the outdoor room and give the family a place to comfortably eat, lounge, and play together.

In order to create an outdoor space that felt like an extension of the indoor space, a mix of old and new items were incorporated. In the dining area a teak hutch sits alongside a matching table that easily seats 16, and when it’s just the two homeowners, the small cafe table in the kitchen is just right. A no-frills space, the room features fabrics throughout that are durable, weather resistant, and washable. Bongiorno paired the layers of neutral textures, shades, and patterns with just a small amount of periwinkle blue to finish the space while keeping the emphasis on the beautiful outdoors.

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When Nicola Manganello purchased her classic Colonial several years ago, she had a vision. “I could see through the small rooms and tired finishes; it had some personality and a lot of potential,” she says. Having grown up around beautiful old farmhouses in Yarmouth, Manganello wanted to keep her home’s character but add some luxury amenities to make it more livable.

Manganello added a new pantry/bar area with a window opening to the patio, marble countertops, and a custom beer tap. This opened up the downstairs, allowing more of an open floor plan and more living and entertaining space. Wherever possible, Manganello retained original details that worked. An antique fireplace was enhanced with a more dramatic mantel and hearth, and paint and wallpaper helped to make the space warm and inviting. As the center of the home, the kitchen was thoroughly updated, but with traditional touches like a 54-inch working sink, antique farmer’s table island, and recessed and traditional lighting.

A lived-in, layered feel is Manganello’s goal—a space that is rich in feel, comfortable, and not overly fussy. “One of my favorite paintings in the house is of an unmade bed—it’s so inviting,” she says. “I think the beauty of a space is in its wrinkles.”

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The original kitchen in this Falmouth home had an awkward layout that didn’t take advantage of the space or the view. In her remodel, Sarah Steinberg chose natural cherry cabinets that highlight the room’s ample natural light while bringing in warmth and a sense of the outdoors. “The goal was to make the large space feel warm, uncluttered, easy to use, and easy to care for,” she says. Steinberg designed a spacious walk-in pantry with open and closed storage, a separate sink, and a 12- foot island that seats up to nine people. Sleek Shaker cabinets by Wright-Ryan Millworks give the kitchen a timeless look, while stainless-steel pulls and pendant lights offer modern touches, along with the clean lines of the Thermador appliances and large-format Porcelanosa tile backsplash from Distinctive Tile and Design. Low-maintenance Witch Hazel Corian counters offer a light-colored work surface without any fuss. The choice of green as the kitchen’s accent color gives the room an organic feel and ties the space to the client’s green-lagoon waterfront location.

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For this year’s Interior Design Issue, we invited more than 50 Maine designers to submit work they were proud of—projects that speak to their talent, vision, and, above all, ability to translate a client’s wishlist into reality. On the following pages is a collection of the 13 interiors that rose to the top for being not only beautiful but functional. Each one was designed with a careful selection of finishes, fabrics, and furnishings that suit the particular space, client, and challenge. The projects as a whole—each one so different—reflect an ethos that all the designers on these pages share: that no space is perfect if it’s not personal, that great design is not just about style but substance. As you’re flipping through these beautiful rooms, take note of the intention behind each decision, the behind-the-scenes know-how it takes to make a space sing.