West by Northeast
Whitewashed walls, a fresh palette, and pretty prints turn a post-and-beam house into a coastal retreat.
The Entoffs* always wanted a post-and-beam home. So when they discovered mold growing inside the 1960s prefab on the Maine property they acquired from a cousin, they decided to go for it. Never mind that the lot was in Ogunquit, just a block from the ocean: neither in the woods nor on a mountain. “We love big mountain house hotels,” Jane says of her outdoorsy family, who spends vacations hiking and fishing at national parks. “Sitting by the fire and doing puzzles at the end of the day is our happy place.” It made sense, then, to build a post-and-beam house on the ocean.
Jane, husband Drew, and daughters Amelia (13) and Siena (10) live in Concord, Massachusetts, just an hour and 20 minutes from their new mountain-style beach house, where they drive up for weekends year-round. “I used to visit [the original cottage] during February break as a kid, so I never thought of it as just a summer place,” Jane explains. “We actually prefer it in the off-season.” Jane’s parents are frequent visitors, and the couple hosts friends often. Everyone reads, plays cards, and participates in lawn games, from badminton to kickball. “It’s where we disconnect from work and electronics,” Drew says.
Riverbend Timber Framing, a Michigan-based company that Drew learned about from a timber-frame home magazine, supplied the plans and erected the Douglas fir structure. Chase Construction took it from there. It was the company’s first post-and-beam endeavor, but project manager Colby Chase says they would definitely do another. Of course, these houses are not without challenges. For instance, attentiveness is key. “Wherever the post lands, it stays,” Chase says.
Annsley McAleer of Annsley Interiors, who worked with the family on their Concord home, collaborated with the team from the start, and she brought in designer Sara Deane. For McAleer, the challenge was how to deal with all the wood. The solution? To create a whitewashed nickel-gap backdrop against which the Douglas fir elements could shine. “We wanted to showcase the timber without letting it take over,” McAleer says. The treatment softens and lightens the interiors and lends a sense of place. “The wood frame has such a mountain feel; it’s what you picture on the side of Sugarloaf,” Chase explains. “We put a coastal spin on it to mesh with the Maine beach location.”
The decor helps marry the mountain architecture to the seaside site. The fresh color palette and the blend of geometric, organic, and bohemian patterns combined with well-made comfy furniture in traditional silhouettes, as well as vintage finds and a smattering of seagrass, produce a lived-in look that feels perfectly at home on the Maine coast. It’s just what the family wanted. “We love the happy, energetic colors and relaxed, homey feel,” Jane says.
A charming arch-top door crafted by Barry Chase, Colby’s father and the company head, leads into the whitewashed, wood-planked entry. Here, the wood structure and a stair rail with painted steel balusters provide architectural interest. The neutral space allows visitors a peaceful moment before looking beyond to the colorful, open living space. “We used greens and blues, which work in winter and summer,” McAleer says.
Beneath the hand-forged iron chandelier that hangs from the Douglas fir–lined, rotunda-like ceiling, the designers pulled together pieces that epitomize fine, rustic living with a breath of fresh air. A vintage faux-bamboo armchair with a caned panel back, a sturdy wingback chair, and a pair of bobbin lounge chairs with generous cushions join a Verellen sofa in front of the fireplace. The small-scale geometric rug is indoor/outdoor because, in an oft-frequented second home, a designer can never be too careful. “Sometimes the kids aren’t the messy ones,” McAleer laughs.
A curated mix of patterned pillows made from textiles by Christopher Farr, Peter Dunham, and Lisa Fine adorn the window seat that is tucked into an enormous bay. “The global vibe correlates to this well-traveled family’s love for a good adventure,” McAleer says. Unsurprisingly, it’s the most popular spot in the house. “The girls read or play board games there for hours while the sun pours in,” Jane says. Sconces with emerald green glass shades stand out like jewels on the Douglas fir posts and tie into the row of green O and G Studio fan-back stools at the kitchen island across the room.
The team reconfigured the kitchen layout, replacing a peninsula that hemmed in the cooking space with a simple island with timber posts on either end. The cobalt blue range—a must-have for Jane and the starting point for the color scheme—pops against the clean white cabinetry and the highly textured subway tiles set with charcoal-colored grout.
An O and G dining table, stained a rich blue that lets its ash grain peek through, anchors the adjacent dining area. “We visited the O and G Studio in Rhode Island; my husband was fascinated by their wood-working processes and attention to detail,” Jane says. “When Annsley suggested a blue dining table, we were like, ‘Yes!’” To break up the large expanse of blue, the designers surrounded the table with natural wood side chairs with hand-woven rush seats. Then they stationed curvy armchairs with sky blue bouclé and Moroccan-inspired, hand-printed linen upholstery at the ends. “The room is so large, it’s a blessing,” Jane says. “We can fit 14 at the table and another 5 at the island.”
Similar furniture and accessory styles in the bedrooms maintain continuity, though each room has a flavor of its own. In the first-floor guest room, where Jane’s parents sleep, pale lavender grasscloth-covered walls imbue a mellow dreaminess that is countered by a faux-bamboo bed. Navy blue nightstands and a pendant light with a woven abaca shade tie it to the coast. The second-floor guest room, which is outfitted with navy blue beds, hand-blocked fabrics, and sconces with wicker shades, has a similar sensibility.
The primary bedroom sits behind a double pocket door hidden in the 35-foot-long stretch of built-in bookshelves on the second-floor landing/library. The room’s grasscloth wallcovering is neutral and slightly striated, and the bobbin bed boasts an upholstered headboard and footboard. Drapes with leafy vines soften the Douglas fir window frames, and a sitting area looks to the ocean. “You can listen to the waves,” Jane says. The en-suite bath, with its white-washed nickel-gap walls, chunky soaking tub, and marble basket-weave tile floor, mixes elegance with country casual.
The girls’ bedroom is all sorts of fun. To bring down the scale of the sky-high space and make it feel more intimate, McAleer commissioned Pauline Curtiss of Patina Designs to hand stencil the ceiling. The boho pattern plays off the John Robshaw fabrics sprinkled throughout the room. “We had no concept of what 19 feet high felt like!” Jane says. Once she did, she suggested building a loft. It’s only three feet wide, but twin mattresses and big pillowsmake it the ultimate hideaway. “You’ll always find somebody up there,” Jane says.
The room Jane might like best, however, is the girls’ bath. The board-and-batten walls differentiate it from the rest of the house, as does the patterned floor tile and sky blue clawfoot tub. “Everyone is obsessed with those Peter Dunham concrete tiles,” McAleer confirms. Jane points to the powder room’s starburst ceiling paper as another high point. “Annsley is so very good; we love it all,” she says. “Why would we even try to do anything ourselves?”
*The names in this story have been changed at the request of the homeowners.