ABOVE “When we moved in, the kitchen was just one really old, rotting cupboard, with a sink, stove, refrigerator, and nothing else,” Ashley says, “so it wasn’t hard to demolish it.” To brighten the space, she selected white cabinets from Semihandmade and a polished white-tile backsplash. Brass hardware, butcher-block countertops, and floating shelves complete the modern farmhouse look, with a maple kitchen table inherited from Ashley’s great-grandmother. “It was a mainstay in her kitchen,” she says. “We refinished it and brought it back to life.”
TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
Ashley and Patrick Krulik live in one of Portland’s hidden houses. Built in 1865, in what was then another house’s backyard, the couple’s three-bedroom sits at the end of a long, narrow driveway, surrounded on all sides by neighboring homes. The Kruliks know little about its history; city records say it was built by the then-owner of the house up front, and it may have once been a boarding house. What’s clear, Ashley says, is “this was never a fancy house.” Much of the trim is flat and unadorned. The floorboards don’t match. The layout is mazelike. In 1924, the city listed the condition of the place as “very poor.” By the time the Kruliks bought it, in 2018, the house was a rental, with a broken stove and bathtub. “It hadn’t been kept up for years,” Ashley says, “so we’re kind of infusing new life into it now.”
The living room has a nine-and-a-half-foot ceiling, large south-facing windows, and, unlike much of the house, decorative trim. But lavender walls had made the space feel dim and uninspired, Ashley says; instead, the couple chose Ultra Pure White, by Behr. Color is spare, with splashes from Patrick’s acrylics and mustard-yellow pillows, from IKEA. “We wanted everything to feel clean and crisp, but we didn’t go fancy with any finishes because that doesn’t feel true to the house,” says Ashley, a former sustainability coordinator for the town of Falmouth, now an at-home mom, here with Herbie, four, and Theo, two.
To maximize space in the small kitchen, the couple built a banquette with underseat storage for table linens. A Modernist tulip table, found on Facebook Marketplace, pairs with mismatched vintage chairs and a seat and back in Sherwin-Williams’s Inkwell and Farrow & Ball’s Shaded White, respectively. On the wall, a collection of watercolors by Herbie hang opposite the couple’s framed wedding-cake topper, by Portland illustrator Steve “Stivo” Zittel.
The Kruliks’ “favorite room in the house” also doubles as a guest room, playroom, office, and art studio. “It gets incredible sunlight, so we just wanted it to be a colorful, fun space that we can be creative in,” Ashley says. A primary-color palette sets a playful tone, with a red-heart acrylic by Ashley; floor-to-ceiling curtains in yellow plaid, from Target; and a geometric blue rug, from Company C, alongside cubbies and an IKEA dresser.
The Kruliks converted a small dining room into a space for Patrick’s many instruments, including guitars, banjos, and mandolins. They removed the doors dividing the room from the kitchen and living room, so the three rooms flow together, and distinguished the space with blue-green walls in Salamander by Benjamin Moore and a rug from Schoolhouse. Pictured from left, Herbie, Patrick, and Theo sit at the family piano (found for free last year on Facebook Marketplace), beneath a drawing of a Winter Point oyster, by Portland artist Aaron Staples.
“The boys now end up in bed with us every night, but the room is small,” Ashley says. To accommodate their cuddle buddies, the couple upgraded to a king-size platform bed that “would feel cozy and wouldn’t eat up all the space.” Soothing gray-toned bedding is accented by a mustard lumbar pillow from Parachute. Above, Patrick’s acrylic of Ram Island, as viewed from Cape Elizabeth’s Crescent Beach, continues a horizon line set by wainscoting in Farrow & Ball’s Skylight, while the room’s symmetry is subtly undermined by mismatched vintage nightstands.
Ashley designed a white-and-black bath to capitalize on late-day sunlight from the west. White subway tiles and a glossy hardwood floor bounce light around, while a wood-framed mirror, dark tile grout, mismatched metal finishes, and Shaker-style pegs are consistent with the home’s unfancy pedigree. Krulik made the curtain from fabric printed with rabbits and squirrels, from Portland’s Z Fabrics — a tribute to the family’s early days in the home, when squirrels lived in the attic. “The curtains are kind of a nod to our squirrel history,” Ashley says, “even though they are, happily, gone now.”