House Tour

All Is Bright

Once home to squatters, a family’s sunny Winterport Colonial is now filled with hygge and holiday vibes.

TEXT BY JESSE ELLISON
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
Rachael and Kurt Anderson’s Winterport entry

ABOVE In Rachael and Kurt Anderson’s Winterport entry, rescue cat Everest snoozes, Princess and the Pea style, on a vintage burlap coffee sack and sheepskin throws. The couple uncovered the giant central fireplaceduring renovations.

Sometimes even decisions that seem preordained can lead to second-guessing. Such was the case for Rachael and Kurt Anderson, who, after the birth of their second son eight years ago, decided to give up the Bangor home they’d lovingly restored in hopes of finding a place where their boys could be “wild and free,” says Rachael, an artist and photographer. They wanted land, first and foremost, but also “something old, beautiful, and sentimental.”

Two years into their search, a 1757 Georgian on three acres dotted with century-old apple trees became available in Winterport. On the sentimentality scale, it was off the charts. The property is across the road from Rachael’s parents’ house and clearly visible from her childhood bedroom window. “I grew up daydreaming about this house,” she says, which made the purchase feel serendipitous.

That was, until reality hit. “We love a good fixer-upper, but it was rough!” Rachael says, noting that the house had been through a number of “traumatic events.” More than once, it had descended into such squalor it was almost torn down. At one point, it was abandoned and then occupied by squatters who ripped off the moldings and doors to use for firewood. And, Rachael recalls with a shudder, after the Andersons had signed the papers and come in with a sledgehammer, they realized a previous resident and his dog had used the house as a toilet. 

After spending two months staying with Rachael’s sister while they did a “hard gut,” they moved in. For the next two years, Rachael and Kurt, an IT manager, would put the kids to sleep next to industrial fans, then break out their power tools. “Literally most of the house was renovated between 8 and 11 p.m.,” Rachael says with a laugh. “The boys really learned how to be good sleepers.” She remembers watching them, at ages 2 and 6, “fishing” through holes in the floor, pulling toys from the living room up to their bedrooms with string, and generally feeling so much like the family was living in a barn that she spent much of the first year sobbing.

Rachael and Kurt Anderson's Winterport Colonial
woodstove of Winterport Colonial
Scandinavian style master bedroom
stainless-steel island in the center of the Winterport kitchen

LEFT TO RIGHT 1) A hulking central chimney and elegant door surround are among the home’s Georgian features. 2) A living room woodstove in what was once a kitchen fireplace heats the whole house. 3) In true Scandinavian style, the master bedroom is spare and almost entirely white. 4) Gingerbread cookie making happens at a stainless-steel island in the kitchen, where the Andersons traded wall cabinets for large windows.

Still, they were making progress, removing interior walls that made the downstairs feel claustrophobic, uncovering a massive central chimney that services five fireplaces, and exposing original hand-hewn beams hidden beneath dropped ceilings. Peeling back the layers revealed a house whose windows were positioned to synchronize with the sun. “Whoever designed it knew what they were doing,” Rachael says. “It’s incredible — it’s always bright.”

Scandinavian-inspired white-on-white walls and furnishings dial up the wattage, while the home’s patinaed pine floors, Rachael’s penchant for well-loved antiques, jute rugs, and sheepskin throws — which cover virtually every available seat — and playful touches, like chalkboard walls and vintage toys, impart a cozy, laid-back feeling. During the holidays, she displays winterberries in vintage sap buckets and ceramic urns and fashions twigs and pine boughs into wreaths. From the attic, she pulls out plaid wool blankets, needle-felted ornaments she and the boys have made over the years, and garlands she crafted from muslin and old sweaters.

Six years after moving in, there’s no shortage of future projects: the floors are bouncy in places and the boys lose markers and crayons between their cracks, and Rachael has plans for putting in a mudroom and proper pantry. But there’s time for all that. “This is our forever house,” she says. “Our family is all here,” and it feels right ending up so close to where she started out. So close, in fact, that when it’s warm enough to open the windows, she can sometimes hear her father’s big, booming laugh drifting in from across the road.

abstract painting by Rachael Anderson
chalkboard wall in entry of the Winterport Colonial
a silkscreened print rests atop a vintage bureau in the master bedroom
chalkboard wall in 12-year-old Sam's room in the Winterport Colonial
an old canning cupboard

LEFT TO RIGHT 1) One corner of the living room is reserved for visiting children. The horse was a gift for one of the Andersons’ nieces and the trunk — positioned below an abstract painting by Rachael — stores vintage toys. 2) Rachael writes messages on the entry’s chalkboard wall. “We see it every time we come and go, so I try to make it positive.” 2) In the master bedroom, a silkscreened print rests atop a vintage bureau, the first piece of furniture Rachael and Kurt splurged on as a married couple. 3) Twelve-year-old Sam’s room features a chalkboard wall, a vintage pie stand for a bedside table, and an adoring little brother, Henry, 8. 4) In Rachael’s studio, an old canning cupboard holds T-shirts screen-printed with her illustrations and designs; she painted the cardboard deer head mustard yellow, one of her favorite shades.

All Is Bright

Once home to squatters, a family’s sunny Winterport Colonial is now filled with hygge and holiday vibes.

Rachael and Kurt Anderson’s Winterport entry

ABOVE In Rachael and Kurt Anderson’s Winterport entry, rescue cat Everest snoozes, Princess and the Pea style, on a vintage burlap coffee sack and sheepskin throws. The couple uncovered the giant central fireplaceduring renovations.

TEXT BY JESSE ELLISON
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE

Sometimes even decisions that seem preordained can lead to second-guessing. Such was the case for Rachael and Kurt Anderson, who, after the birth of their second son eight years ago, decided to give up the Bangor home they’d lovingly restored in hopes of finding a place where their boys could be “wild and free,” says Rachael, an artist and photographer. They wanted land, first and foremost, but also “something old, beautiful, and sentimental.”

Two years into their search, a 1757 Georgian on three acres dotted with century-old apple trees became available in Winterport. On the sentimentality scale, it was off the charts. The property is across the road from Rachael’s parents’ house and clearly visible from her childhood bedroom window. “I grew up daydreaming about this house,” she says, which made the purchase feel serendipitous.

That was, until reality hit. “We love a good fixer-upper, but it was rough!” Rachael says, noting that the house had been through a number of “traumatic events.” More than once, it had descended into such squalor it was almost torn down. At one point, it was abandoned and then occupied by squatters who ripped off the moldings and doors to use for firewood. And, Rachael recalls with a shudder, after the Andersons had signed the papers and come in with a sledgehammer, they realized a previous resident and his dog had used the house as a toilet. 

ABOVE In the living room, a cat-shredded antique chair Rachael calls “deconstructed” and an IKEA seat and stool flank the tree. BELOW 1) A hulking central chimney and elegant door surround are among the home’s Georgian features. 2) A living room woodstove in what was once a kitchen fireplace heats the whole house. 3) In true Scandinavian style, the master bedroom is spare and almost entirely white. 4) Gingerbread cookie making happens at a stainless-steel island in the kitchen, where the Andersons traded wall cabinets for large windows.

After spending two months staying with Rachael’s sister while they did a “hard gut,” they moved in. For the next two years, Rachael and Kurt, an IT manager, would put the kids to sleep next to industrial fans, then break out their power tools. “Literally most of the house was renovated between 8 and 11 p.m.,” Rachael says with a laugh. “The boys really learned how to be good sleepers.” She remembers watching them, at ages 2 and 6, “fishing” through holes in the floor, pulling toys from the living room up to their bedrooms with string, and generally feeling so much like the family was living in a barn that she spent much of the first year sobbing.

Still, they were making progress, removing interior walls that made the downstairs feel claustrophobic, uncovering a massive central chimney that services five fireplaces, and exposing original hand-hewn beams hidden beneath dropped ceilings. Peeling back the layers revealed a house whose windows were positioned to synchronize with the sun. “Whoever designed it knew what they were doing,” Rachael says. “It’s incredible — it’s always bright.”

ABOVE In Rachael’s studio, a jute rug and (more!) sheepskin throws provide cozy counterpoints to an Eames-style rocker and a utilitarian table.

Scandinavian-inspired white-on-white walls and furnishings dial up the wattage, while the home’s patinaed pine floors, Rachael’s penchant for well-loved antiques, jute rugs, and sheepskin throws — which cover virtually every available seat — and playful touches, like chalkboard walls and vintage toys, impart a cozy, laid-back feeling. During the holidays, she displays winterberries in vintage sap buckets and ceramic urns and fashions twigs and pine boughs into wreaths. From the attic, she pulls out plaid wool blankets, needle-felted ornaments she and the boys have made over the years, and garlands she crafted from muslin and old sweaters.

Six years after moving in, there’s no shortage of future projects: the floors are bouncy in places and the boys lose markers and crayons between their cracks, and Rachael has plans for putting in a mudroom and proper pantry. But there’s time for all that. “This is our forever house,” she says. “Our family is all here,” and it feels right ending up so close to where she started out. So close, in fact, that when it’s warm enough to open the windows, she can sometimes hear her father’s big, booming laugh drifting in from across the road.

ABOVE 1) One corner of the living room is reserved for visiting children. The horse was a gift for one of the Andersons’ nieces and the trunk — positioned below an abstract painting by Rachael — stores vintage toys. 2) Rachael writes messages on the entry’s chalkboard wall. “We see it every time we come and go, so I try to make it positive.” 2) In the master bedroom, a silkscreened print rests atop a vintage bureau, the first piece of furniture Rachael and Kurt splurged on as a married couple. 3) Twelve-year-old Sam’s room features a chalkboard wall, a vintage pie stand for a bedside table, and an adoring little brother, Henry, 8. 4) In Rachael’s studio, an old canning cupboard holds T-shirts screen-printed with her illustrations and designs; she painted the cardboard deer head mustard yellow, one of her favorite shades.


One Comment

  1. Wonderful job: artsy and real. Suits the locale seemleesly.

    Best this Holiday Season,

    Steve Chisholm, Esquire

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