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This Scarborough Homeowner Has No Fear When It Comes to Color

Splashy shades and a bold, mix-and-match style enliven her oceanfront condo.

Lisa Fine Textiles Roman shades, a Sputnik-style chandelier, and a Jonathan Adler table and chairs give the dining area a boho-glam vibe.

Lisa Fine Textiles Roman shades, a Sputnik-style chandelier, and a Jonathan Adler table and chairs give homeowner Susan’s Scarborough dining area a boho-glam vibe.

By Michaela Cavallaro
Photos by Myriam Babin
From the Winter 2022 issue of Maine Homes by Down East

On a kitchen wall in a seaside Scarborough condo, James Dean glowers out from his signature film’s Spanish-language poster, Rebelde Sin Causa. The actor overlooks a round marble table with an openwork brass base, transparent Lucite chairs, and a sculptural, tiered rattan pendant — all set off by custom Roman shades, from Portland’s Home Remedies, sporting navy and tangerine botanicals on a bright-blue field. The bold, eclectic arrangement reflects the confident eye of homeowner Susan (who asked that her last name be withheld). “I love color,” she says. “And if I can find something different, I will buy that instead of the traditional.”

Evidence of this philosophy is on display from the moment you enter the foyer, where abstract ’70s and ’80s ads for Swiss designer Bally loom large. “I don’t have art; I have posters,” says Susan, who has collected mostly French large-format varieties for decades, drawn to their scale and color. Yarmouth designer and general contractor Nicola Manganello has a different take. She reimagined Susan’s home early in the pandemic, led by her client’s “exquisite” taste and incorporating posters — a trench-coated model promoting 1981’s Paris Fashion Week, Pret a Porter Feminin, over a dining-area bench, a 1920s French candy ad featuring a woman in a flower-petal dress, above the living-room fireplace — as lively accents. “They are art in their own right,” Manganello says.

Susan comes by her interest in design honestly — she says her mother loved to tinker with furniture placement, fabric selections, and accessories until she got a room just right. Her living area boasts thick tomes on designer and artist John Derian and fashion photographer Helmut Newton, and she’s quick to act when a piece catches her eye. She ordered the mixed-metal Sputnik-style chandelier over her glossy oak dining-room table immediately upon seeing it in a magazine; gut instinct also inspired the purchase of the guest room’s bronze-finished snake lamps.

These are among the few holdovers to make their way into the updated design, which aimed to brighten the space and make it more contemporary. Manganello added beams with a light, faux-woodgrain finish to soften the scale of the living room’s 24-foot ceiling; had the staircase and balustrade painted white and blanketed the treads in a pink-striped runner; and brought in Portland’s Chameleon Coatings to cover the black hardwood floors with distressed layers of beige and white paint. In the first-floor owner’s suite, an oversized lavender cotton-silk headboard pops against muted-yellow walls and a nubby ivory carpet. Modern touches, including a nickel-plated armoire and burnt-orange felted-wool side table, anticipated current trends. “Susan is ahead of the curve on design, and quality was really important to her,” Manganello says.

Upstairs in the white-shag-carpeted guest room, pale-pink walls play up the rosy tones in floral bedding, coordinating curtains from Home Remedies, and elaborate Hermès silk scarves framed by Falmouth’s Moss Galleries and displayed as artwork. Susan retained her whimsical approach to the guest bath, where the ceiling is painted the same crimson as the stylized dogs in the wallpaper. Black floral designs in the penny-tile floor and a black-framed mirror pick up their collars.

Appraising her surroundings from a tawny leather sectional in the living room, Susan looks with pride across the “cozy, casual” home she’s curated — a vibrant pixelated Stark rug here, an olive Ralph Lauren leather armchair there. “I love the color and I love the print, and I said, ‘That’s what I want,’” she says, gesturing toward the room’s lemony toile Roman shades. “Even if it didn’t match, that’s what I want. Because I don’t like matching things.” But, she adds with a shrug, “it just so happens that sometimes it matches.”

April 2024, Down East Magazine

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