Carisa Salerno and Aaron Levin, creators of the Maine House Hunt and Maine Antiques Hunt Instagram pages, took the work they put into their coastal cabin on Vinalhaven and turned it into a lifestyle
“This house was a gut renovation. The living room pictured here was all drywall before we went in and created the paneling. We came into the space and thought, what is needed? And we went from there, making it up piece by piece. The fireplace surround, for example, used to be brick, and we thought about different options and came upon slate, which we had done by Sheldon Slate Products in Monson. We worked around things. We’d make a decision and then see what fit from there. It was totally intuitive.
“We’re lucky that we have the same eye for things. It’s funny, but we weren’t antique dealers before we started working on this house. It completely changed our lives. It’s midcentury, initially designed by a friend of the original owners, architect Norman Klein, and that’s how we got interested in midcentury modern antiques. The midcentury modern furniture is, of course, really at home here. It’s nice to be able, as far as restoration and renovation, to stay within the time period. We fell in love with antiques, learning about the history behind things and the people who made them. They’re full of stories, and it’s nice to have that history throughout your living space. Many of the pieces you see here are from yard sales and antique shops, and the chair we bought at Modern Underground in Waterville. We also worked with a furniture maker, someone we found from our days going to Thistle Pig in South Berwick. We always sat at this one table, and when we asked who made it, it turned out he was located right down the street.
“The house layout is one of the most thoughtful we’ve ever seen. That triangular window, for example, is so sweet on its own, but it’s also planned perfectly. In certain moments you can see the moon through it or get a glimpse of the sun setting through it; it’s interactive and constantly changing.
“One playful element we added was to have Carisa’s father, Rick Salerno, who is a carpenter and a builder, design a bunch of hidden panels and doors. Here, one of the stone birds is hiding an electrical panel, and there are little storage areas throughout the house where the paneling completely blends in around them. Rick spent seven years rebuilding this house, commuting from Bristol. There’s no way we would’ve been able to do this without him. He is just as focused on details as we are. For example, those boards next to the fireplace are completely unbroken—they go straight to the ceiling. He called the mill to make that happen, and it was a huge endeavor. He is a very patient man.”
—Carisa Salerno and Aaron Levin, founders of the Maine House Hunt and Maine Antiques Hunt on Instagram