Tour a Delectable Prouts Neck Home Designed for a Professional Chef

Influenced by Paris and South Africa, the focal point of this worldly residence is, unsurprisingly, the kitchen

Chef Mary Rolph Lamontagne worked with decorator Amanda Pratt to transform the Prouts Neck home she shares with her family. The main kitchen is meant to be clean and simple, while the nearby “scullery” serves as a prep kitchen.
A guest room features a Crate and Barrel bed, a vintage chest of drawers, and antique mirrors.
The kitchen is open to both the living and dining areas, where souvenirs from South Africa—such as light fixtures made from fishing baskets, nesting tables, and an ostrich eggshell mirror—remind the couple of their time living there.

Canadian-born chef Mary Rolph Lamontagne has lived all over the world, but her heart has never strayed far from southern Maine. She first visited the Prouts Neck area of Scarborough with her grandparents and then eventually began to vacation there with her own children and husband, Paul Lamontagne. Even when they lived abroad in Paris and, most recently, South Africa, she made it a point to return for summer trips. A few years ago, the couple relocated to Montreal, and her dream of owning her own Maine getaway became a reality. “I had been looking for a while, and this house had been on the market for eight years,” recalls Rolph Lamontagne of the modest shingle-style house. “It was used as a summer rental, and it was a horror story, with fake wood floors and striped wallpaper.” It did, however, have views of the ocean from the top floor, and it also carried a sentimental connection: the structure once served as an outbuilding for the Black Point Inn, where Rolph Lamontagne’s grandparents had spent time.

Given the state of the residence, the couple knew they would need to renovate and expand the building, but they didn’t rush it. “We owned the home for two years before starting any work, because living in it helped us figure out how we wanted it to function,” says Rolph Lamontagne. Ultimately, the couple consulted with Sybil Przeszlowski of Richard Renner Architects to overhaul the 3,000-square-foot house and build an additional 1,800 square feet for a total of six bedrooms— plenty of space for their three children and grandchild to spread out. The building’s original placement on the site couldn’t accommodate the expansion, however, so the structure had to be lifted and repositioned. “We took the original house down to the bones, keeping the wall and roof systems as well as the staircase, and then added a new foundation and studs,” explains general contractor Joe Lucey, who notes that, despite some ledge issues when it came to excavating a new foundation and the more common challenges of working with old, uneven framing, the project hit its eight-month deadline. “The basic structure remained intact, but it feels like a new home. We opened up the interior to make it feel more modern.”

Throughout the process, the owners relied on the expert eye of Amanda Pratt, a decorator based in New York City and Maine, who was with them from conception to completion. “The original layout was strange, with small bedrooms and not enough baths,” says Pratt. “Their children are older, so we created larger bedrooms with en suite baths, and the rooms are arranged around a central television area.” There’s also a kids’ bunk room for younger children. The new addition contains the primary suite plus a balcony, family room, den, bathroom, mudroom, screened porch (fiberglass panels can be subbed in during cooler months), and secondary prep

kitchen. This prep space, or “scullery” as Rolph Lamontagne refers to it, is a necessity for the chef, who not only trained at the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris but has written a cookbook about reducing food waste and spent 15 years opening safari lodge restaurants and training cooks in South Africa. “I love entertaining, and during dinner parties I can close the door to the scullery and not have to see any of the mess,” says Rolph Lamontagne of the secondary space, which contains a refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, and coffee bar. “We put the meat and potatoes of the kitchen in the scullery,” explains Pratt. “It was very important that Mary’s kitchen setup make sense and flow well. When someone cares about food so much, I really focus on the ergonomics of the space. I actually went to culinary school myself, so I enjoy designing kitchens for other people and look at it from the perspective of a mom and a cook.” The new kitchen and prep space are a major upgrade from what Rolph Lamontagne had to work with prerenovation: “There wasn’t even a stove when we moved in,” she recalls. “I bought a small one to tide me over until we redid the kitchen, but I ended up keeping it because I hate being wasteful. I sometimes miss not having a high-end range, but after exclusively cooking over a fire in South Africa, I can make anything work.”

The main kitchen is “classic and clean,” says Pratt, who paired white cabinetry with an island tinted in a slightly warmer shade. “Mary didn’t want all white, so we integrated some soft color along with the indestructible engineered stone countertops.” Nickel-gap wall paneling and a handmade tile backsplash round out the sunny, serene space. The island accommodates six people for casual meals or cooking classes (Rolph Lamontagne has even filmed television segments there), and often the chef will use it as a buffet for serving family-style meals. The kitchen is open to the dining area, where a 10-person table expands to fit up to 16 guests. “Mary is a nurturer,” says Pratt. “Being in the kitchen with her and sitting at her table is a great joy.”

When it came to the rest of the home, Pratt tapped into her client’s love of South Africa. “Mary is heavily influenced by her time in South Africa, so we tried to replicate the warm minimalism found there,” says the designer. “We introduced muted, subtle tones—such as soft blue, camel, and woods—that wouldn’t compete with views of the water and her gardens. The colors attract the eye but don’t dominate.” Pratt and Rolph Lamontagne even had the chance to shop “together” over video calls while Rolph Lamontagne was still in South Africa. “We were able to get a lot done virtually,” says Pratt. “Mary would call from various studios and shops, which gave me

access to a lot of work that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. We found some beautiful standout pieces this way.” Among the items purchased abroad are artwork, outdoor furniture, an ostrich eggshell mirror, a sculptural raw-wood bench that welcomes guests in the entry, and several fishing baskets that now serve as light fixtures. “We tried to bring in a sense of craft and tradition from a place the homeowners have fallen in love with, says Pratt.” In addition to these souvenirs representing a past life, Pratt incorporated some French Canadian pine heirlooms as well as artwork the couple has collected from around the world—including a beloved impressionist painting purchased at a Paris auction that now holds pride of place in the game area off the living room. “The typical New England look just isn’t me,” says Rolph Lamontagne. “Amanda knows me well, and I trust her eye, so I knew she could figure out how to make the pieces we already had work together. It was really important to me to use items from South Africa because I was sad to leave, and it’s a way of not forgetting our life there.” And although nearly the entire design process was done virtually, for Pratt it couldn’t have been any more seamless. “Mary has tons of energy, is passionate, and makes decisions quickly and easily. When I step into the house, it feels like her. I wanted this home to serve as a refuge and a special place for their family to come together.”