Soft Touch

Ikea tables are paired with lacquer storage consoles to create a sleek work space for the crew at Nicola’s Home. The daybed was purchased at the Brimfield Antique Fair, as was the dough trough located under the bed and the vintage grain-sack pillows.
Two racks of Dash and Albert rug samples sit in front of rows of organic cotton fabric from India. Also shown are upholstery samples sourced from a vendor in South Carolina.

At Nicola’s Home in Yarmouth, designer Nicola Manganello has created a suitably grand showroom for her thoughtfully eclectic designs

Nicola’s Home is a place of subtle contrasts. When I pull in to the driveway, I’m greeted by two sights: to the left, a grand stone staircase that leads to modern glass doors, and to the right, a modest chicken coop populated by blowsy white hens and proud roosters.

This is indicative of the goods you’ll find inside the restored barn, a stately postand- beam structure that dates back to 1917. Designer Nicola Manganello, founder of Nicola’s Home, has created a space that functions as a showroom for her style as well as an office for her design-build business, complete with a conference room in the basement. “While people can come in and shop, it is better to make an appointment,” Manganello reveals. “We’re just so busy, and if you plan ahead, we have more time to work with you one-onone.” Unlike her previous stores, which were more traditional retail spaces, Nicola’s Home isn’t really a place to go to buy things off the shelves. “People come to me because they like my style, and they know I can guarantee both quality and design,” Manganello says. “Our firm is small but mighty, and I touch everything that goes through our doors.”

Manganello has worked on houses throughout Maine and New England, but you can also get a glimpse of her style at the Royal River Grill House in Yarmouth, the Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro in Freeport, the Tuscan Table in South Portland, and Bei Capelli Salon in Scarborough. Although her style has changed over the years—“In college, my look was totally tribal, then I had a phase where I just loved Indian textiles,” she says—she’s stayed true to her core design philosophy. Manganello believes in mixing textures, blending old and new pieces, and creating spaces that feel warm, homey, and visually engaging. When she’s working with a client, she’ll pull out all the stops to create something truly unique. She has used stickers to mimic etched glass on a refinished pine cabinet, and she has been known to restyle antique rugs as global-chic throw pillows. “Recently, we upholstered chairs with this amazing antique Chinese tapestry,” she says. “They were faded and covered in patches. We had to buy a lot of tapestries to cover the whole chair, but when a client really loves a specific look, I’ll make sure they get it.”

While Manganello’s own house utilizes a neutral-rich color palette of beige, eggshell, and linen, she’s happy to work with clients to create something brighter, and she has the tools at her fingertips to achieve any look. There are thousands upon thousands of fabric samples at Nicola’s Home, from brilliant royal red jacquard to soft embroidered ivory linens. Many of these fabrics come from custom lines sourced overseas. There are also samples of hand-painted clay tiles, sleek flooring materials, and rustic lighting. The wares inside her cavernous shoreside shop run the gamut from vintage-inspired to contemporary.

“It’s hard to pinpoint my style,” Manganello admits. She stays current with the trends and times. “But if there’s one thread that runs through all my work, it’s this: I create spaces where you want to relax and linger. Where you can feel right at home.”


  • Start slow. Manganello loves a good collection, but she notes that the most interesting arrangements are the result of years of thoughtful purchasing. “Avoid adding too many things at once,” she says. “You want it to feel curated, not cluttered.” She suggests choosing a color palette and then gathering pieces from a variety of sources and influences. “Mix countries and cultures, and find items that speak to you.”
  • Embrace texture. Even if you prefer a contemporary look, you can still bring in loads of texture to keep it visually interesting, Manganello advises. “Before you even bring in furniture, you can add texture on walls and ceilings with thoughtful paint colors—ceilings don’t have to be flat white—wood treatments, wallpaper, and tile,” she says. Grasscloth adds “instant texture“ and looks “timeless,” Manganello adds.
  • Set a strong foundation. Manganello says it’s a good idea to purchase quality sofas and rugs in neutral colors and then “take risks” with items like pillows and accessories. “Cheap furniture shows,” she says. “If you keep it neutral and invest in good quality items, they can evolve with your lifestyle.”
  • Stay true to yourself. Manganello’s favorite spaces reflect the owner’s lifestyle. “I like to see someone with a well-traveled life and an eclectic mix of things from all over the world,” she says. But if you don’t have time to source side tables from Morocco or linens from Paris, know that Manganello and her team are happy to fill in.