Homes

A Couple Trades a Life at Sea For a Mid-Century Fixer Upper

On Cumberland Foreside, Stacey and Neil Collins nurture an eclectic home, a mid-century furniture business, and a menagerie.

TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEFF ROBERTS
Stacey and Neil Collins pose with barn cat Fennec and Nigerian Dwarf goat Aster, in their goat barn.

ABOVE Stacey and Neil Collins pose with barn cat Fennec and Nigerian Dwarf goat Aster, in their goat barn.

Stacey and Neil Collins’s L-shaped Cumberland Foreside ranch sits kitty-corner to Route 88, facing a gently sloping yard with rows of raised organic vegetable beds, a shingled barn, and what might be the cheeriest little goat barn on the planet, furnished with two-over-two windows, an attached chicken coop, white string lights, and an amiable black cat named Fennec. Most days, you’ll find Stacey outside, harvesting food for dinner, trekking to the barn, where the Collinses house the inventory and workshop for their Danish mid-century furniture business, Vintage Modern Maine, and tending to the animals. When the wind is just right, a salty mist from Casco Bay skims up over a nearby ridge and sweeps across the property, reminding her of the ocean adventure that helped land her here.

It was 2001 and Stacey, a graphic designer and model, had just beaten a particularly deadly form of breast cancer. “I wasn’t sure if I would be around for a long time,” she says. “So we decided, even though, financially, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, screw it, we’re going sailing.” Stacey and Neil, who managed a woodshop, bought a “yard wreck” of a 39-foot sloop (“It had, like, feral cats living in it”) and spent two years DIY-ing it back to life, just as they’d done with their 1920s Sears kit house in South Portland. “The way that we have always gotten nice things is by buying beat-up things and fixing them up,” Stacey says.

The couple and their non-binary child, Rowan, sailed around Central and South America for two years before returning to Maine. They’d learned to love living close to nature, fishing and foraging for food, and watching the weather change, and planned to be landlubbers just long enough to flip a house to finance another trip. They sold their SoPo place and moved into the 1956 ranch, which, Neil says, “wasn’t designed so much as it was built,” with cave-like rooms and confusing architectural flourishes, like a faux-Colonial shelf on the original red-brick fireplace wall in the den. But Neil, in particular, saw potential and a fitting outlet for the couple’s longtime obsession with mid-century style.

In Stacey and Neil Collins’s Cumberland Foreside bedroom, an oak Hans Wegner Wishbone chair holding Siamese cat Daisy echoes the embrace in a Ramon Santiago drawing; at right is a 1950s Norwegian teak planter.

ABOVE In the bedroom, an oak Hans Wegner Wishbone chair holding Siamese cat Daisy echoes the embrace in a Ramon Santiago drawing; at right is a 1950s Norwegian teak planter.

Advertisement

Stacey designed the Craftsman-style porch, where a bronze Louis Poulsen fixture complements the caramel luster of the fir door.
In their bedroom, a teak Henning Jørgensen dresser pops, while a George Nelson Bubble lamp recedes into the room’s neutral walls.
A kitchen bookshelf built by Neil displays early Dansk Kobenstyle pitchers, 1960s Danish turned candleholders, and a 1965 KLH Model Twenty-One radio. The painting is by Stacey and the poster is for Neil’s rock band.
The guest room features a treasure trove of vintage gems and memorabilia, including a teak modular wall unit by Poul Cadovius framing artifacts from the family’s sailing trip, Stacey’s self-portrait, and a teak-and-leather Sawbuck chair by Hans Wegner.
An oval teak Vildbjerg Møbelfabrik mirror offsetting a blocky teak bookshelf by Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen filled with art and more sailing finds.

ABOVE 1) Stacey designed the Craftsman-style porch, where a bronze Louis Poulsen fixture complements the caramel luster of the fir door. 2) In their bedroom, a teak Henning Jørgensen dresser pops, while a George Nelson Bubble lamp recedes into the room’s neutral walls. 3) A kitchen bookshelf built by Neil displays early Dansk Kobenstyle pitchers, 1960s Danish turned candleholders, and a 1965 KLH Model Twenty-One radio. The painting is by Stacey and the poster is for Neil’s rock band. 4) The guest room features a treasure trove of vintage gems and memorabilia, including a teak modular wall unit by Poul Cadovius framing artifacts from the family’s sailing trip, Stacey’s self-portrait, and a teak-and-leather Sawbuck chair by Hans Wegner. 5) An oval teak Vildbjerg Møbelfabrik mirror offsetting a blocky teak bookshelf by Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen filled with art and more sailing finds.

The renovation happened in fits and starts over the ensuing decade, with Stacey, who comes from a family of architects, redesigning the layout to be more open — including converting a three-season porch into a living room facing the yard — and the couple tackling most of the work themselves. The home now centers on a kitchen-den-living room triad with the massive (mantel-less) fireplace wall serving as a centerpiece. Its warm tone, paired with the original oak flooring and the Collinses’ encyclopedic collection of mid-century teak furniture, imparts a below-deck vibe that is enhanced by the kitchen — with its cherrywood cabinetry built by Neil, it looks like a ship’s galley. “We didn’t specifically design the kitchen to look like a sailboat,” Stacey says, laughing. “It just came out that way.”

As the project progressed, “we got entrenched with life here and the sailing dream kind of went away,” Stacey says. In 2014, motivated in part by college tuition bills for Rowan, they created another anchor, turning their furniture-collecting hobby into a business sourcing, restoring, and reselling Danish mid-century pieces by luminaries like Finn Juhl, Børge Mogensen, Arne Vodder, and Hans Wegner.

Today, Stacey’s cancer remains in remission and the Cumberland Foreside place remains the couple’s universe, just as the sailboat was so many years ago. “The things we loved about living on a boat, like being connected to nature and self-sufficient,” Stacey says, “over the years, this property has been transformed to allow us to have those same pleasures.”

ABOVE 1) In the living room, Neil and Siamese cat Zahra relax on an Eames lounge chair beneath an Arco lamp by Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni, while Stacey and Siamese Sybil perch on a sofa accented with Marimekko pillows. An Arne Vodder easy chair in papaya-hued wool and a teak-and-beech Shell chair by Ib Kofod-Larsen front a Sven Ellekaer glass-and-teak coffee table. 2) A mix of framed vintage art and family portraits, including a pencil drawing of the couple’s child, Rowan, by Neil’s mother, and a mixed-media landscape by Betty Williams. A Lotte and Gunnar Bostlund ceramic lamp, sheepskin-draped Wishbone chair, and Daisy the cat warm up the space.

A Couple Trades a Life at Sea For a Mid-Century Fixer Upper

On Cumberland Foreside, Stacey and Neil Collins nurture an eclectic home, a mid-century furniture business, and a menagerie.

Stacey and Neil Collins pose with barn cat Fennec and Nigerian Dwarf goat Aster, in their goat barn.

ABOVE Stacey and Neil Collins pose with barn cat Fennec and Nigerian Dwarf goat Aster, in their goat barn.

TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEFF ROBERTS

Stacey and Neil Collins’s L-shaped Cumberland Foreside ranch sits kitty-corner to Route 88, facing a gently sloping yard with rows of raised organic vegetable beds, a shingled barn, and what might be the cheeriest little goat barn on the planet, furnished with two-over-two windows, an attached chicken coop, white string lights, and an amiable black cat named Fennec. Most days, you’ll find Stacey outside, harvesting food for dinner, trekking to the barn, where the Collinses house the inventory and workshop for their Danish mid-century furniture business, Vintage Modern Maine, and tending to the animals. When the wind is just right, a salty mist from Casco Bay skims up over a nearby ridge and sweeps across the property, reminding her of the ocean adventure that helped land her here.

It was 2001 and Stacey, a graphic designer and model, had just beaten a particularly deadly form of breast cancer. “I wasn’t sure if I would be around for a long time,” she says. “So we decided, even though, financially, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, screw it, we’re going sailing.” Stacey and Neil, who managed a woodshop, bought a “yard wreck” of a 39-foot sloop (“It had, like, feral cats living in it”) and spent two years DIY-ing it back to life, just as they’d done with their 1920s Sears kit house in South Portland. “The way that we have always gotten nice things is by buying beat-up things and fixing them up,” Stacey says.

The couple and their non-binary child, Rowan, sailed around Central and South America for two years before returning to Maine. They’d learned to love living close to nature, fishing and foraging for food, and watching the weather change, and planned to be landlubbers just long enough to flip a house to finance another trip. They sold their SoPo place and moved into the 1956 ranch, which, Neil says, “wasn’t designed so much as it was built,” with cave-like rooms and confusing architectural flourishes, like a faux-Colonial shelf on the original red-brick fireplace wall in the den. But Neil, in particular, saw potential and a fitting outlet for the couple’s longtime obsession with mid-century style.

Advertisement

ABOVE 1) ABOVE In the bedroom, an oak Hans Wegner Wishbone chair holding Siamese cat Daisy echoes the embrace in a Ramon Santiago drawing; at right is a 1950s Norwegian teak planter. 2) Stacey designed the Craftsman-style porch, where a bronze Louis Poulsen fixture complements the caramel luster of the fir door. 3) In their bedroom, a teak Henning Jørgensen dresser pops, while a George Nelson Bubble lamp recedes into the room’s neutral walls. 4) A kitchen bookshelf built by Neil displays early Dansk Kobenstyle pitchers, 1960s Danish turned candleholders, and a 1965 KLH Model Twenty-One radio. The painting is by Stacey and the poster is for Neil’s rock band. 5) The guest room features a treasure trove of vintage gems and memorabilia, including a teak modular wall unit by Poul Cadovius framing artifacts from the family’s sailing trip, Stacey’s self-portrait, and a teak-and-leather Sawbuck chair by Hans Wegner. 6) An oval teak Vildbjerg Møbelfabrik mirror offsetting a blocky teak bookshelf by Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen filled with art and more sailing finds.

The renovation happened in fits and starts over the ensuing decade, with Stacey, who comes from a family of architects, redesigning the layout to be more open — including converting a three-season porch into a living room facing the yard — and the couple tackling most of the work themselves. The home now centers on a kitchen-den-living room triad with the massive (mantel-less) fireplace wall serving as a centerpiece. Its warm tone, paired with the original oak flooring and the Collinses’ encyclopedic collection of mid-century teak furniture, imparts a below-deck vibe that is enhanced by the kitchen — with its cherrywood cabinetry built by Neil, it looks like a ship’s galley. “We didn’t specifically design the kitchen to look like a sailboat,” Stacey says, laughing. “It just came out that way.”

As the project progressed, “we got entrenched with life here and the sailing dream kind of went away,” Stacey says. In 2014, motivated in part by college tuition bills for Rowan, they created another anchor, turning their furniture-collecting hobby into a business sourcing, restoring, and reselling Danish mid-century pieces by luminaries like Finn Juhl, Børge Mogensen, Arne Vodder, and Hans Wegner.

Today, Stacey’s cancer remains in remission and the Cumberland Foreside place remains the couple’s universe, just as the sailboat was so many years ago. “The things we loved about living on a boat, like being connected to nature and self-sufficient,” Stacey says, “over the years, this property has been transformed to allow us to have those same pleasures.”

ABOVE 1) In the living room, Neil and Siamese cat Zahra relax on an Eames lounge chair beneath an Arco lamp by Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni, while Stacey and Siamese Sybil perch on a sofa accented with Marimekko pillows. An Arne Vodder easy chair in papaya-hued wool and a teak-and-beech Shell chair by Ib Kofod- Larsen front a Sven Ellekaer glass-and-teak coffee table. 2) A mix of framed vintage art and family portraits, including a pencil drawing of the couple’s child, Rowan, by Neil’s mother, and a mixed-media landscape by Betty Williams. A Lotte and Gunnar Bostlund ceramic lamp, sheepskin-draped Wishbone chair, and Daisy the cat warm up the space.


One Comment

  1. Sarah

    I’ve followed Vintage Modern Maine for years and love getting a peek into their beautiful home! Thanks to Stacey and Neil for sharing some of the space they created.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *