Inner Beauty: 15 Maine Interiors That Inspire Us
From a bright dentist’s office to a cozy colonial, these stunning projects by Maine interior designers offer inspiration for every aesthetic
Principal Nicola Manganello of Nicola’s Home believes the landscape is an integral part of a project’s overall design, so she designed both this waterfront spec house and its landscape simultaneously.
The goal was to create a family-friendly space with the knowledge that the buyer would most likely be from out-of-state and would enjoy the home during their summers spent in Maine. The palette throughout the home is light, with earth tones and neutral colors marked by moments of pink. Manganello says she finds that pink brings a unique welcoming warmth to a space. Since the house has clean lines, furnishings were brought in to add texture.
The kitchen was located on the water side of the house, but at the last minute, the designer decided to move it to the front of the house. The challenge was that there were two sets of French doors to contend with (the house was already framed with the windows and doors in). It just proves it’s never too late to make a major change and reimagine the space.
When designing a home from the ground up, Manganello will often use a rug as the inspiration for the rest of the design. “While it’s just one design element, the rug literally and figuratively grounds the room and serves as a foundation for everything that follows,” she says. “For clients, it’s likely the first thing they see, and it’s what they feel on their feet when they walk around their home.” And often it represents a significant investment, so it can be a difficult decision to make. “Once that decision is made, the rest of the design starts to flow, allowing me to add and adjust layers that make the space complete.” Nicola’s Home takes pride in balancing function and beauty and designing comfortable spaces to be enjoyed for years.
Firm: Nicola’s Home
Interior Designer: Nicola Manganello
Architect & Builder: Nicola’s Home
Photographer: Ben Folsom
The inspiration for the interior was driven by sand and water. Fiore Home transported coastal colors into the palette while using organic shapes and textures.
The exterior architecture is very traditional, but the client who purchased the home gravitates toward modern interiors. The goal of the design team was to blend these two styles in an intentional way. The renovations were subtle in some areas: lightening the floors, renovating the bathrooms, changing lighting, and adding a new kitchen backsplash and hood. The space now looks seamless, making it hard to distinguish between the original and new parts of the home.
The design team kept the palette neutral and textural to create a calm, modern sanctuary. The dining room is filled with white oak furniture from Fiore Home. The light fixture’s banana leaf fibers mimic the look of linen. The Fiore Home team used nontraditional lighting fixtures in all the rooms, from fiber to ceramics, blown glasswork, and metal. The homeowners are avid art collectors, so the lighting was chosen to function as complementary art pieces. The powder room’s wainscoting and vanity colors were custom matched to the wallpaper. The onyx sconces complement the organic forms in the wallpaper and the Brizo plumbing fixtures.
Firm: Fiore Home
Interior Designer: Vanessa Helmick
Architect: Peterson Design Group
Builder: Thomas and Lord
General Contractor: Dean Bradbury, Southern Maine Creative
Wallpaper Installer: Miller’s Fine Wallcoverings
Photographer: Jeff Roberts
Deer Isle Cottage
The clients decided to give up their busy life in New York City to settle into the Deer Isle community. Huffard House’s goal was to infuse an existing cottage with warmth and style to suit the client’s day-to-day activities and expand the space to welcome friends and family from all over the world. The living and dining rooms are contiguous spaces, so they needed design clarity and connectedness.
The wallpaper from Scalamandre was the jumping-off point; from there, Huffard worked in several shades of greens and neutrals while adding pops of color. A generous scale Katie Leede stripe was selected for the roman shades, which were mounted as high as possible so as not to obstruct the views. The dining table and chairs, along with the bedside lamps, were important pieces to the clients, so they were refinished and reupholstered in Fermoie textiles. The design team was able to honor the items from the clients’ past that were meaningful while mixing in other styles, colors, patinas, and finishes. The result was a beautiful, welcoming, not-too-precious home. The mixture is what makes this space an updated classic.
Firm: Huffard House
Interior Designer: Bronwyn Huffard
Photographer: Abraham Ziner
Location: Deer Isle
Hurlbutt Designs was inspired by the incredible wraparound view of Kennebunk’s most popular beaches and the ocean with its ever-changing fleet of fishing boats, sailboats, and pleasure vessels. This condominium needed many structural upgrades to achieve the currently comfortable, open nautical vibe. The designer worked closely with the contractors during the renovation, keeping in close contact with their Canada-based clients as the design shifted when walls were opened and ceilings were replaced.
Hurlbutt Designs had previously worked on three other projects for the clients, so they knew the end goal was to create a welcoming vacation retreat for extended family. The space is navy and white with splashes of red, from the custom cabinetry to the area rugs and furniture in the great room to the bedding and accessories in both the owners’ and the guest bedrooms. The condo has many nautical touches, including boat cleat handles, navy and white anchor wallpaper, antique ship models, and custom paddle artwork.
Firm: Hurlbutt Designers
Interior Designer: Bonnie Weeman
Builder: Hazelwood Handyman
Flooring: Quality Floor Finishers
Cabinetry: Sylco Cabinetry
Furnishings & Accessories: Hurlbutt Designs
Photographer: Heidi Kirn
Location: Kennebunk Beach
Pattern Play in Falmouth
Situated in the middle of town, this house is rooted in New England style. The clients are new empty nesters who do not take themselves too seriously, which is reflected in the design. Keeler and Company took a layered, whimsical approach to the design of the space. There is an emphasis on usability and comfort, timeless silhouettes, adequate lighting, and ample storage. Every corner was considered.
The clients wanted the family room to be the heart of the home. Opening off the kitchen, it’s the space where the family gathers for holidays and regularly entertains. The design team used the client’s existing area rug and painting as their guide, setting the palette of blues, reds, pinks, greens, and gold throughout the space. Keeler maximized the furniture plan to allow plenty of seating when the house is full while ensuring that it is intimate enough for two to sit near the fireplace and enjoy a good book. Performance textiles were used throughout to allow for stress-free living and forgiveness for the clients’ dogs. The pair of sofas, chairs, and ottomans allow for the ultimate flexibility: lounging by the fireplace, seating up to ten, or just putting up your feet.
Architecturally, the team grappled with how to place the fireplace in a space where it would be very much off-center. Working alongside cabinetmaker Robert Meserve, they chose to incorporate the fireplace into a large cabinetry design, including much-needed additional lighting from the sconces.
The dining room is in the original part of the house, so the design team took a traditional approach. There is a warmth created by the rich striped wallpaper and the layered family heirlooms, including chairs and sideboards passed down through the generations. The new dining table extends for hosting dinners of all sizes. The embroidered parrot draperies were inspired by the clients’ love for Jimmy Buffet, a subtle nod to the joie de vivre that you feel in this household.
Keeler and Company’s design mission is driven by the intersection of function and beauty. Layering pattern and texture is something the company believes differentiates a space. This concept is translated in this project with window treatments on top of wallpaper, playful pillows, fabric, art, and color.
Firm: Keeler & Company
Interior Designer: Laura Keeler Pierce
Custom Cabinetry: Robert Meserve
Painting & Wallpaper Hanging: Tom Webster, Peter Pelozzi
Photographer: Sean Litchfield
The Point House
The client wanted an open-concept design for their summer home, to accommodate their family of five and to entertain extended family and friends. The house was originally built in the early 1990s with a small kitchen oriented toward the back of the house that did not take advantage of the spectacular ocean views. The dated kitchen had a low ceiling and a wall dividing it from the living space. Knickerbocker Group removed the wall to allow more light to enter the home, and the new kitchen is now the heart of the space. The entertaining island is painted in Farrow and Ball’s Hague Blue, and all the custom millwork and woodwork around the range and wall ovens is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. The range hood has a brass flat-stock accent with exposed rivets to pick up the other nautical brass details throughout the house.
Located at the edge of the kitchen and the open living space, the custom bar can accommodate large crowds or intimate gatherings with a wine fridge, an ice maker, and fridge drawers. The cabinets with glass doors are lit internally to show off the client’s collection of crystal glassware. The backsplash is an antique mirrored tile, which makes the cabinet appear more open. Like the kitchen, the bar has brass fixtures and a brass sink.
The design team updated the existing board-and-batten walls and added wallcoverings using a blue and white color palette throughout. The clients have a long history with Blue Hill and have acquired work from many local artists along with historic maps of the area, which are displayed throughout the home. Each room has a brass placard cast with the name of an area in the state that holds a special meaning to the family.
The new space fits both the clients and their families. They say they relax as soon as they walk into the house and can now comfortably entertain large groups.
Firm: Knickerbocker Group
Interior Designers: Leah Lippmann & Nanette Tanner
Architect: Leah Lippmann, Knickerbocker Group
Builder: Mike Osborne, General Contractor
Millwork: Block Brothers Custom Cabinets
Photographer: Darren Setlow
Location: Blue Hill
Maine Street Design Company (MSDCo.) worked with architect Bruce Butler and Wright-Ryan Construction to update a post-and-beam home built from repurposed lumber with views of an ever-changing tidal cove. The oyster farmers, clam diggers, and kayakers that share the waterways in the distance served as the inspiration for the design team.
A cozy living area was created using two facing sofas along with two swivel chairs positioned in front of a dramatic fireplace clad in Freshwater Pearl granite. Although the spaces feel airy and open, the rooms are small, making efficient space planning crucial and creating a unique challenge for the design team.
The artwork throughout the home is photography taken by the client that was curated within the space by Brett Johnson and framed and installed by Tony Cox of Casco Bay Frames. The upholstered furniture is all custom-made in the United States and sourced through MSDCo. Shop. The upholstered fabrics are all extra durable blue and white Crypton, to hold up to the rigors of grandchildren. The pillow and accent fabrics invoke the sea, marine life, and fisheries. The wood beams were painted white, creating a more modern feeling in the space, and the walls and ceilings were all painted in soft Edgecomb Gray from Benjamin Moore. The flooring and other architectural details are white oak, and the fireplaces were all finished in Maine Freshwater Pearl granite with iconic affect.
Firm: Maine Street Design Company
Interior Designers: Brett Johnson, Maine Street Design Company; Bruce Butler, By Design Architecture
Architect: Bruce Butler
Builder: Wright-Ryan Construction
Fireplace: Freshwater Stone
Furniture & Pillows: Maine Street Design Company
Photographer: François Gagné
Cali Vibes in Maine
Morrison Design House designed a light-filled kitchen to ease the transition for their clients relocating from California. This was accomplished by keeping the finishes on the tonal side, resulting in a space that felt crisp but not cold. Various white tones were layered, creating a soothing foundation. The oak flooring adds warmth, and the ebonized black island grounds the space. The client has an amazing collection of vintage rugs and small wares that provide texture throughout the room.
Since Morrison Design House was on the project team in the early architectural phase, they were able to successfully deal with spatial and design challenges before anything was final. The house is elevated and elegant without any fuss.
Morrison Design House focuses on thoughtful restraint and celebrating the Maine landscape with color, with an overarching design philosophy to keep things quiet. This project leaned into that approach. It feels calm, light-filled, and timeless.
Firm: Morrison Design House
Interior Designers: Jennifer Morrison, Markie Mello
Architect: Kirk Hendrickson
Builder: Letarte Bros Construction
Millwork: Northe Woodworking
Tile and Installation: Old Port Specialty Tile Co.
Photographer: Jeff Roberts
Location: Cape Elizabeth
Tyler Karu Design and Interiors was inspired by the existing architecture and the clients’ desire for a warm, inviting living and dining space. The vibe of the space is rich, textural, and cozy. With multiple zones for seating and conversation, it invites curling up in the swivel chairs in front of the fireplace and cocktail gatherings for friends and family.
Large living rooms can be more challenging to program than smaller spaces. The team suggested more than one seating arrangement to create function and visual interest in the room. The color palette is deep and earthy: charcoal textured grasscloth complements the millwork on the walls and ceiling, ensuring the shell of the space is fully considered. To soften the nature of the space, curvy lines were selected for most of the custom and vintage furnishings.
The space provided architectural detail in elements such as the millwork, the arched door, and the large wood-burning fireplace. The challenge arrived in tying the elements together in a way that looked specific and original to the home. The millwork had been painted odd tones, and the fireplace surround was not appropriate for the space. The design team developed a materials plan that tied these elements together with warm tones and textures and built a textile and furnishing plan around it that complements the architectural elements.
The design team succeeded in creating a home that is both comfortable and functional while aesthetically resonating with the clients.
Firm: Tyler Karu Design & Interiors
Interior Designer: Tyler Karu
Contractor: Nathan Lagasse
Photographer: Erin Little
North Deering Colonial
Robin Davis Interiors has worked with this Portland family for several years to update their large colonial, room by room. It was finally time to tackle the last item, an extremely dark and cramped kitchen. The rest of the home had been updated using a palette of light grays and whites mixed with warm neutrals, so the kitchen was as well. The space needed to be opened to allow natural light to flow through. This provides the client with the ideal atmosphere to host neighborhood families for game nights and allows plenty of prep space for large dinners. It was important that the room allow guests to feel part of the festivities whether they were at the kitchen island or sitting in the dining room.
Crisp and bright was the overall direction, along with pops of black and brushed gold accents. One challenge was replacing the kitchen floors to blend with the newer wood in the dining room and hallways. A porcelain tile was selected to match wood and oak transition planks that were added to meet the existing hardwood flooring, creating a visually seamless finished product. Traditional white Shaker cabinetry was sourced from Omega Cabinetry and blends well with the light gray used for the island. The white quartz countertops provide the simple and classic look the client wanted but with the durability required in a busy family home. Two different tiles were sourced through Capozza Floor Covering Center: a 3D-style blue tile provides depth and dimension from counter to ceiling, while the graphic patterned porcelain used for the dry-bar wall provides a lovely touch of pattern and color.
Firm: Robin Davis Interiors
Interior Designers: Robin Davis, Robin Davis Interiors; Diana Viles, Capozza Floor Covering Center; Alan Poanessa, Hammond Lumber
Flooring: Capozza Floor Covering Center
Photographer: Matt Congdon Photography
This house is situated on Harpswell’s Quahog Bay, with incredible views of the water and forest landscape from almost every room. The designer wanted those views to be reflected in the overall design, from the color palette and the wood tones to the textiles and patterns.
This is a second home for the family, and it’s a place for them to relax, escape reality, and have fun. The goal was for the space to embody and evoke those feelings. The designer’s biggest challenge with the project was wanting the space to reflect the outdoors without taking away from the views. They needed to work together harmoniously.
The colors and textures throughout the space and the home directly reflect the colors and textures that can be seen in the nature you see when you look out the big, beautiful windows. Different shades of calming blues and rich wood tones bring the landscape inside and are married with local art of surrounding areas to also reflect the exterior landscape and color palette. Locally sourced art was important to the homeowners and was sourced through the Willard Gallery, Portland Art Gallery, and Maine Art Hill. There are also locally made custom furnishings like the stools and dining table by Kidwell Fabrications.
Designer Samantha S. Pappas paid close attention to the project’s location to produce a design that not only reflects the client but also fits into the nearby area and environment.
Firm: Samantha S. Pappas Design
Interior Designer: Samantha S. Pappas
Builder: John Libby
House Plan: Diane Bibber-Oden
Photographer: Courtney Elizabeth
New House in the Round Meadow
The inspiration and mission for this new house was “unpretentious classical coastal” without being clichéd nautical. The ocean view inspired the layout to orient work areas toward the windows overlooking the five-acre round meadow on Casco Bay. It is earthy, soothing, and serene, and there’s an incredibly calming vibe in this wing of the new house.
The kitchen is a major thoroughfare to the rest of the house. The client requested a large island for food prep, flower arranging, and gathering. There is a majestic view of Casco Bay through a window above the primary sink. There was a need to bring in as much light as possible, given that there is a covered porch for dining and grilling off the kitchen. The natural wood cathedral ceiling adds a bit of drama. The mirrored cabinets were intentionally selected above the range wall to reflect the ocean view.
The natural oak island has a wire-brushed, whitewashed finish, creating a soft, mellow texture. The custom cabinetry was done by Tidewater Millwork, and the Perla Venata polished marble counters were sourced from Morningstar. These elements match the ceiling and floors incorporated throughout the new home. The walk-in pantry hides miscellaneous equipment, small appliances, and seldom-used items. This keeps the primary kitchen clutter free, and anything out in the open is a visual crowdpleaser. The full-height tile backsplash in the pantry is hand stenciled and sourced from Distinctive Tile.
Banks Design was also the architectural designer for the house, allowing them to steer the spatial relationships and blend the finished project inside and out.
Firm: Banks Design/Simply Home
Interior/Architectural Designer: Linda Anne Banks
General Contractor: Paul Moutal, Flying Point Construction
Appliances: Agren Appliance
Cabinetry Fabrication: Alex Hamilton, Tidewater Millwork
Countertops: Morningstar Stone & Tile
Hardware, Lighting & Counter Stools: Simply Home
Tile: Distinctive Tile & Design
Photographer: François Gagné
Location: Cumberland Foreside
Cape Porpoise Cottage
The clients wanted an open, bright, comfortable space to host their friends and family that would feel cozy yet elevated. The homeowners were open to recommendations for an open-concept gathering place. Bongiorno selected classic materials with an emphasis on natural, organic textures and neutral tones that fit with the coastal modern look.
The space is four rooms in one, with the kitchen, dining room, and two seating areas open to one another. This created the interesting challenge of defining the separate spaces while also making them feel cohesive. The idea was to create a family-friendly, relaxed atmosphere encouraging conversation between the multi-functional spaces while emphasizing the view. A bar area extends from the kitchen into the larger living space so guests can easily help themselves to drinks and snacks. Bongiorno was careful to select furniture with low backs to allow easy sight lines throughout.
The kitchen countertop and backsplash are both honed Carrara marble; the latter is from Ann Sacks. In the dining area, Bongiorno incorporated blue chairs with rope detailing and a woven rattan pendant light to provide texture as well as a nod to the coastal Cape Porpoise location. The color palette consists of classic layered neutrals with pops of seaside shades of blue and green inspired by the landscape. The designer embraces clean lines, using white backdrops with a focus on the natural surroundings.
Firm: Spaces by Nicki Bongiorno
Interior Designer: Nicki Bongiorno
Architect: David Graham
Builder: Tim Spang, Spang Builders
Kitchen Cabinetry: Sylco Cabinetry
Photographer: Chris Smith
Location: Cape Porpoise
Harvest Gold Hideaway
When the designer started the design process with the clients, they all agreed it would be a betrayal of the home’s heritage to reimagine it into anything other than what it is. The home is a traditional post-and-beam built in 1975, tucked in the woods and bordered by enchanting gardens. To bring the home into the twenty-first century, the designer used modern lines, an updated color palette, and bold and sophisticated lighting. The veil between past and present is thin, and the term “Grand Millennial” (love it or hate it) fittingly applies to this home and the overall inspiration for the project.
The most prominent design hurdle is that the home is a genuine post-and-beam, and redesigning the space to create the wide-open floor plan often seen now would mean the walls and beams would need to go, destroying the home’s beauty and uniqueness. It was important to the designer to understand how the family would use the limited space. The furniture needed to be easily moved and multifunctional, and a sleeper sofa was selected to accommodate guests. The designer admits that the Frame television was a genuinely transformative piece. It allows the clients to switch from a family-focused atmosphere to a formal adult entertaining area with stunning artwork.
The home earned its name from the unofficial color of the decade, Golden Harvest, which dominated home decor in the 1970s. (Some may remember that GE kitchen appliances almost always came in that color.) It was the jumping-off point for the entire interior design. Blues, greens, and yellows—all typical 1970s colors—were used throughout the space. A shag rug has two shades of blue that match the colors used in an oversized contemporary piece of artwork that hangs prominently in the living space. The wallpaper’s rich matte colors set on a black background are modern, but the floral print harkens back to a bygone era. Finally, the white linen curtains and the leather couch anchor the space firmly in 2022.
Firm: Susie Smith Coughlin Interior Design
Interior Designer: Susie Smith Coughlin
Plaster: Courtney Norod, Athena Paint and Plaster
Photographer: Peter G. Morneau
Two Lights Dental
Bowerbird Design Collective (BDC) teamed up with the Portland architectural team Mark Mueller Architects to create a calming and comfortable vibe for a new dental office. The focus was on using natural light to set the tone. When patients walk through the doors, they are greeted by a sunlit-drenched waiting room, helping to ease any pre-dental-visit jitters. This light-filled entry provides a perfect backdrop to a large, beautiful plant wall that brings in texture through biophilic design. The building was intentionally designed so that all operatories and treatment rooms wrap the perimeter, each with oversized windows featuring views of the forest beyond. Special consideration was given to the ambient light in each treatment room, designed to run along perimeter walls, freeing up the ceiling for individual flat screens that patients can view while reclined.
Because the program called for a certain number of operatories, space planning and arranging the chairs was the main challenge; chairs were centered for optimal views out of the windows while allowing space for the dentist and the hygienists to move freely. BDC collaborated with Patterson Dental to create an ergonomic and functional environment for the team and patients. The ceiling and lighting create a space that is calm and not jarring as patients look up toward the ceiling.
The color palette was intentionally kept minimalist. The light-colored wood-slat walls encapsulate part of the desk and return on the back reception wall, which features a newly designed logo by Makewell. The waiting room gives a slight nod to midcentury design with Eames side chairs upholstered in a sunny yellow fabric that complements tables by Hay, a sectional sofa in teal by Herman Miller, and a Dalmatian puppy sculpture by Magis.
Firm: Bowerbird Design Collective
Interior Designers: Melanie Scamman, Laura Zoulamis
Architect: Mark Mueller Architects
Builder: Benchmark Construction
Photographer: Alice & Chris Photography
Location: Cape Elizabeth