ABOVE Beth Millar and Steve Miller’s Lovell bedroom and deck feature front-row seats on Kezar Lake.
TEXT BY JESSE ELLISON
PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEFF ROBERTS
Beth Millar and Steve Miller (yes, you read that right) never would have met if Stephen King hadn’t bought a campground. For 12 years, Miller, who’s from Massachusetts, spent part of every summer at the only campground on Kezar Lake, in Lovell, with his three sons. That was until 2002, when the author, who owns multiple properties on the lake, purchased the campground and closed it, to cut down on boat traffic. In 2005, Miller, recently divorced, went camping in Naples instead, and met Millar, a lifelong Mainer and single mother of two girls, who was staying in a 1977 trailer she’d painted pink, purple, and turquoise. On their first date, Miller asked if she’d be willing to move to Massachusetts. Her only condition: They had to have a weekend place in Maine.
ABOVE 1) In a guest bedroom, sunlight beams through a Leanne Ford rattan pendant and an antique stained-glass panel. 2) A rope pendant from designer Leanne Ford’s former Target line and a mud cloth-inspired pattern Millar painted with a stencil from Amazon set off the dining area. 3) The couple, pictured with their terrier mix, Koko.
With waterfront property out of their price range, they purchased a little camp in the Lovell woods in 2007. But Millar, who works part-time as a real-estate agent, kept a close eye on the market. In 2019, she noticed one place whose price was dropping: a rambling 1968 shed-roof home, surrounded on three sides by water, with an open plan, soaring cathedral ceilings, and walls of windows. It was an odd shade of butter yellow, and seasonal, but Millar, who grew up in Houlton in the mid-century-modern era, was enamored of the nostalgic style.
The couple spent the following winter and spring insulating the home, replacing all the doors and windows, and updating nearly everything else but the kitchen (and full-bath) sink — Millar loves the original cast-iron basins. The campy cedar paneling in the bath also remains, but the rest of the walls received fresh ivory paint; towering charcoal-painted brick fireplaces in the living room and couple’s bedroom read like exclamation points against the pale backdrop. When it was time to decorate, Millar channeled her love of old pieces, derived from her parents, who owned a Houlton antiques store. The proprietor of Retro Home, in Fort Myers, where the couple spends part of the winter, helped educate her about mid-century furniture, and, over time, she filled the house with period-appropriate finds: a sleek leather sofa and reproduction Eames lounger in the living room, vintage Marcel Breuer-esque rattan chairs in the sunroom, and angular vintage maple seats and a groovy olive-green vinyl ottoman in a guest room. A smattering of trendy touches (knotted-rope pendants, a mud-cloth-inspired pattern Millar painted on the dining-area wall) keep the look from feeling one-note.
ABOVE 1) Lovell’s Micklon Tree Service and Landscaping installed the fieldstone patio for the couple. 2) The kitchen received a facelift courtesy of fresh paint on the existing cabinets, a custom range hood by local carpenter Joe Maclean, and new appliances and Danby marble countertops. The open shelves hold ’70s-era pottery Millar has collected since college, vintage wooden bowls, and green glassware from Target.
Millar says the highlight of the renovation was working with locals like Colin Micklon, an excavator, landscaper, and Lovell’s tree warden, whom she and Miller hired to put in a new driveway and fieldstone patio, and trim their trees. Gazing out through the wraparound windows in the upstairs sitting area they call “The Treehouse Room,” “he knew which limbs to cut to see the perfect sunset,” Millar says, “and what flowed with the land.”
One thing that didn’t flow was the home’s dull-yellow exterior, which the couple swapped for slate gray juxtaposed with trim the color of fallen pine needles. The painters were skeptical at first — most homes here are brown or green. But the house fairly disappears into the forest, allowing the lake and Micklon’s artful pruning to shine. “The best is driving down the driveway and having it open up to this mid-century house nested among hemlocks and pines with water all around,” Millar says. “It’s not something you think you’ll find in the woods in Maine.”
ABOVE 1) In the full bath, Millar installed sconces from Lowe’s with hand-painted glass shades from Schoolhouse, which also makes the shower curtain. 2) A kilim rug bought from the former owners occupies a guest-bedroom corner, along with a vintage ottoman and chairs and a table from Millar’s great-grandfather’s Houlton ice-cream shop. 3) Millar painted a kitchen cupboard that came with the house and turned it into a bar. 4) Grandkids visit a lot, so she decided not to put the “real stuff” in the living room, furnishing instead with sturdy mid-century reproductions.