By Virginia M. Wright
It must have a porch, and, of course, there’s a mudroom. So began our fanciful construction of the ideal Maine home. After that, our notions of a perfect Maine dwelling ranged over territory as big as the state itself: It should have a bedroom with windows overlooking the ocean. There must be a deck hanging over a lake. Let’s not forget the cabin in the mountains or the loft in downtown Portland. And so it is we came to agree that there is only one rule for the perfect Maine home: traditional or contemporary, small or large, rustic or elegant, it never forgets where it is.
Room by Room
Maine has four seasons: Snow. Mud. Dirt-Sand-Freshly Mowed Grass. Leaf. So it is that many people treat their back door as the main entryway and the front door as an ornament (almost). No Maine home is complete without a mudroom, which protects the rest of the house from all the dirt we can’t help tracking in.
“There is no one particular Maine-style kitchen, but people do tend toward simple styles — classic, rather than trendy,” says Sarah Steinberg, an interior designer from Cumberland. “They like a traditional fitted look for their cabinets, with modern elements added. More people are asking for open shelving, which embodies that simple idea: fewer things, less storage. Open shelving can look very old fashioned, but it’s also a minimalist aesthetic.”
An abundance of historic architecture has influenced Maine style, which is timeless and established — even if the dwelling is new. Living rooms of period homes are remarkable for their quality craftsmanship and fine details. In contemporary and renovated homes, these gathering spaces often have high ceilings and lots of windows, allowing the inhabitants to enjoy nature all year round.
A Maine home has a warm heart — hearth, wood, and stone create a toasty space to gather around in winter.
“The perfect Maine home has a three-season room: the glazed porch,” says Portland architect Carol J. De Tine. “You can build a small house and put in that three-season room and it expands your life.”
The classic Maine bathroom has a claw-foot tub, a porcelain sink, and wainscoting. Contemporary homes evoke the Maine aesthetic by borrowing these elements, smoothing out their curves for a sleeker look. Either way, clean and fresh rule the day.
Again, tradition sets the cue for a bedroom that says Maine. The old (yet never out of fashion) way is an antique iron bed piled high with handmade quilts, a wicker chair in the corner, a painted dresser, a braided rug, and a captain’s trunk at the end of the bed. The updated version might have elegantly simple beds and dressers crafted by The BedWorks of Maine or Thos. Moser, Swans Island blankets, and an Angela Adams rug.