Innkeeper’s Quarters

This Innkeeper’s Cape is a Love Letter to Her Grandmother

Peek inside Alice Amory’s heirloom-filled Lincolnville home.

ABOVE In the sunroom, geraniums and maidenhair ferns that flourished in the South Freeport home of owner Alice Amory’s grandmother, Sally, appear to have sprung from the floral pillows — including needlepoints and toiles from Sally and a paisley botanical by John Robshaw — Amory mixed with velvet Ikea ones on a pale-pink Ikea sectional.


From the November 2020 issue of Down East magazine

Alice Amory didn’t choose her Lincolnville house so much as it fell into her lap. The one-bedroom, circa-1900 Cape sits on a tidy acre-and-a-half lot across Route 1 from the Lincolnville Motel, which Amory owns. The house had belonged to a childhood friend, and when the friend moved in with her fiancé, scooping up her place was “a no-brainer,” Amory says. She figured she’d rent it out in summer, when she lives at the motel, then settle in after the motel shuts down in October. In perhaps the world’s most magnanimous real estate transaction — the pair prioritized friendship over financial gains — they agreed on a price, and Amory closed in 2018. Now, she says, tongue only slightly in cheek, she has the “lucky privilege of being able to watch my business from my home.


Amory’s home is a repository for many pieces — such as a pedestal table and a lacquered Monet print in an antique frame — that belonged to her beloved grandmother, Sally, who passed away shortly before she moved in. “She was always looking for a ‘good antique,’” Amory says. “And she always managed to convey a sense of elegance from mismatched objects.” Amory draped the painted antiques-store chairs with her signature sheepskin throws — used liberally in the motel — and her mom, Mary, stitched the curtains from an Urban Outfitters tapestry.


A trained chef who also happens to be handy, Amory sought a functional kitchen with a clean aesthetic. For less than $3,000, she renovated the space herself, incorporating a stainless-steel faucet and sink, black laminate countertop, and charcoal recycled-plastic drawers, all from Ikea. Mary repainted the wall above in Benjamin Moore’s Wrought Iron as a gift for Amory’s 40th birthday.


The back side of the house encompasses a sunroom addition and faces the spacious yard. Amory is enamored of Scandinavian design and customs, which include removing one’s shoes when entering a home. Her place lacks a mudroom, so she incorporated built-in shelving for shoes and an Ikea coatrack beneath the stairs.


Josef Frank’s Paradiset wallpaper enlivens a kitchen wall and adjacent hallway. “Sometimes with a bold pattern, less is more,” Amory says. “You want to enjoy it, not be overwhelmed by it.” A metal Ikea cart next to the narrow basement door — painted, along with the wainscoting, the same Wrought Iron color as the sink wall — holds cutting boards, colorful Le Creuset cookware, and Sally’s vintage copper-bottomed Revere Ware pots.


This chair, upholstered in floral silk, and painted mirror, which used to be attached to a bureau, came from Sally’s dressing room. As much as possible, Amory says, she tries to “maintain small vignettes within the house,” that reflect her grandmother’s pairings. She repainted the adjacent bedroom floor a glossy white and added a gray wool rug from Ikea. The Swiss-dot curtains were Sally’s.


Amory has collected new and vintage globes for 20 years and displays many of them in the motel’s guest and common rooms, but the faded 1980s-era one bookending a stack of her design tomes came from Sally, as did the old pine table on which it sits. Above, a kitchen pass-through holds Sally’s porcelain gravy boat, cut-glass vase, and novelty shot glass shaped like an oversized thimble.


The same antique carved bench and gilded mirror decorated with miscellanea — a yellowed newspaper clipping depicting Barack Obama meeting the Pope, a handful of “I Voted!” stickers, a photo of a llama sticking out its tongue — that greeted visitors in Sally’s entryway now welcome them in Amory’s. “The reason the house looks like it does is because of my grandmother,” she says.