Nice N’ Easy

A 1980s Cape is redesigned to take full advantage of its perch on a sinuous waterway in Camden.

By Virginia M. Wright / Photographed by Mark Fleming

The Megunticook River is best known for its finale: it disappears under Camden village’s main street, reemerges from beneath the rear deck of a harborside restaurant, and tumbles down a steep rock stairway into the sea. Just 3½ miles upstream, however, is an entirely different Megunticook: here, the river is wide and ever changing, with hints of adventure waiting around a wooded bend.

That scene, dressed in a fluffy blanket of snow, won the hearts of this airy Cape’s current owners 11 years ago. Parents to three young girls, the couple had been looking for a house in Maine — somewhere not so remote as Mount Desert Island, where both had summered as children, and not so suburban as Greater Portland, which was similar to the New Jersey town they then called home. Camden fit the bill.

The couple spent the next few years remodeling the 1980s-vintage house to suit their lifestyle and to more fully embrace the river view. They removed some of the interior walls, creating an open floor plan that flows from the kitchen to the dining area to the living room. Red accents are a unifying theme: there’s the glossy enamel range, the bright lacquer chairs in the casual dining area, and the walls of the formal dining room, which are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Bull’s Eye Red, a rich color that suits the antique furnishings, all family heirlooms.

The spacious kitchen, with its cherry-topped island and the AGA dual-fuel range, was designed with the couple’s shared passion for cooking in mind. The maple cabinets are custom made by Pine Ridge Carpentry in neighboring Hope.

The family has shopped locally for art as well. The landscape above the sofa is by Brooklin painter Tom Curry, and the whimsical giraffes in a garage-turned-mudroom and den are by Northeast Harbor artist Dan Falt.

The couple’s relaxed sense of style is inspiring for its attainability, but it’s their mudroom that is most likely to elicit envy. A row of cubbies provides storage for each family member’s belongings; footwear is tucked underneath and out of the way. The couple eschewed closet doors so the cubbies can double as benches for donning and shedding boots — plus, they get to enjoy the uniquely Maine sense of satisfaction that comes with seeing their bulky outdoor gear organized.

When it comes to renovation, post-and-beam construction is especially flexible because there are no load-bearing interior walls. The owners of this Camden home removed some walls to create an open floor plan from kitchen to living room, but retained the walls that separate the formal dining room.


Virginia Wright

Virginia M. Wright is the senior editor at Down East.