This Homeowner Wanted a Place to “Make Magic”

And that’s what she found in the cozy Rockland cottage she decks out for the holidays.

Marjanne Rademaker bought plain wreaths for the sunroom and other spots and dressed them up with her own ribbons

Rademaker bought plain wreaths for the sunroom and other spots and dressed them up with her own ribbons. They crown orange armchairs from a Camden estate sale she covered with slipcovers and sheepskins from Portland’s Home Remedies.

By Jesse Ellison
Photos by Erin Little
From the Winter 2021 issue of Maine Homes by Down East

When Marjanne Rademaker talks about her Rockland home, the word that comes up most frequently is “magic.” Searching for a house for herself and her two children six years ago, she didn’t fixate on a particular style or checklist of must-haves. Instead, she went looking for a place where she could “make magic,” the way her own single mother had when she was a kid in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Back then, money was tight, but her mom knew how to reupholster a sofa and stitch tablecloths with scraps of Goodwill fabric and make a room sing.

The home that ultimately spoke to Rademaker is a 1,200-square-foot, 1936 gabled cottage in a quiet neighborhood, a 10-minute walk from fourTWELVE, the Main Street women’s clothing store where she works as a manager, designs window displays, and helps style photo shoots. When she found the place, it had a dreary, ’70s-era kitchen and mint-green and mustard-yellow walls. But she loved the original built-ins, crystal doorknobs, cast-iron radiators, and central brick fireplace. In the kitchen, she bloodied her knuckles stripping away layers of linoleum and sanding down the original oak floors, swapped the laminate countertops for swirly gray marble, and replaced the windows above the sink, painting their grilles a glossy black that reads simultaneously classic and fresh.

For the walls throughout the house, she chose Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore. “It feels very serene, which is important in my life,” she says, “and it’s a clean, elegant backdrop for my artwork.” Her collection includes paintings by her mother, drawings by her grandfather, flea-market prints, and photographs by friends, many of them displayed in junk-shop frames she painted gold. “I love things that have a history, a life before this,” she says.

Some of Rademaker’s favorite parts of the house lie beyond its walls: the maples and weeping willow in the backyard, the firepit that she and her son built behind the garage, and her neighbors, including the flower grower who sells her bouquets for $10 apiece. But her most cherished spot is the little sunroom off the living room, outfitted with her signature mix of white slipcovered furniture, shabby-chic flea-market finds, and touches of glam gold. In the mornings, the place positively hums with birdsong. “It sounds like a jungle outside those windows,” she says.

During the holidays, wreaths adorn the sunroom’s black-framed windows, and most of the others downstairs, bunches of eucalyptus and sage spill from vases and crown gold mirrors, and pine garlands bedeck the brick fireplace. The goal, with these and all of her decorating choices, Rademaker says, is to create an “enchanting and cozy” place for her kids — who are now college grads — to come home to. “With the move to this house came the end of their teenage years and the start of young adulthood,” she says. “But, instinctively, I still want them to feel the way they did growing up.”

Rademaker says that when she returns from trips out of town, she greets her house as if it’s an old friend, announcing out loud, “Hello! I missed you so much!” as she walks in. “I feel such gratitude for my home,” she says. “It gives me immense beauty and grace. Magic is a good word for what I feel when I’m here.”

Down East Magazine, March 2024 cover

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