Editor’s Note by Sarah Stebbins 

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Sarah Stebbins, editor of Maine Homes by Down EastThirteen years ago, I found myself alone in an elevator with Martha Stewart. I’d been working for her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, for probably six months at that point, but had previously only seen her through the glass walls of her office or from a distance, surveying layouts arrayed on a giant fabric-wrapped bulletin board in the hallway. “Do you work for me?” she asked after I offered a tentative smile. I rambled for a few moments about my two editors, whom I genuinely admired. “Well,” she said as the doors opened, “I’m glad you’re here. Please don’t be afraid to say hello.”

Alas, I didn’t have another chance. I left the magazine a year and a half later, finally giving in to a nagging inner voice that had been pulling me back to my home state and the actual nagging voice of my future husband, who was eager to start a law practice in Portland. Driving north out of New York, with everything I owned crammed into a U-Haul, I believed the most exciting chapter in my career was in the rearview with the diminishing skyscrapers. But in a cyclic twist, one of my first responsibilities as an editor at Down East was to serve as the magazine’s liaison with Martha for the special April 2017 issue she was guest-editing. This year, we collaborated again, on our inaugural Maine Homes Design Awards contest, which Martha judged, along with a team of industry pros. (Check out the spectacular winning projects on page 76.)

But the highlight of my career thus far (no offense, Martha) has been creating the new magazine you hold in your hands. In conceiving the stories, I tried to heed advice readers of our Maine Homes website have given me over the years — to showcase inspirational houses with aspects anyone can emulate, to take a broad view of what constitutes a living space (I won’t be offended if you turn to page 42 right now and ogle Meag and Ben Poirier’s prison bus turned adorable tiny home), to provide practical information people can use when searching for, building, improving, or decorating their own places, and to tap into that hard-to-quantify Maine ethos that makes us all want to live here. (Writer and free pile enthusiast Suzanne Rico offers her quirky take in Free-For-All on page 38.)

To paraphrase a favorite mentor, I’m glad you’re here. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on our first issue. Please don’t be afraid to drop a line and say hello.

Sarah Stebbins

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Farmhouse Refresh

A writer and her designer daughter transform a 19th-century Cape Elizabeth abode.

By Candace Karu 

The Lake Effect

A whimsical shorefront cottage in Camden recalls childhood summers.

By Debra Spark

West Side Story

Portland transplants add a thrilling new chapter to their historic home.

By Sara Anne Donnelly 

Cultivating Zen

An Owls Head homeowner and her gardener’s harmonious relationship yields beautiful results.

By Virginia M. Wright  

Maine Homes Design Awards

Who got top honors from Martha Stewart and other industry heavyweights in our inaugural contest? View the 10 winning projects.


The Guide

Striking black-and-white finds for your home, designer Emily Mattei on pulling off nautical style, artful Wabanaki baskets anyone can collect, roadtripping through Bethel, the backstory on a famed writer’s retreat, adorable cottages for sale, grand old houses in need of saving, and advice on your home and garden conundrums.

Get Inspired

Our current camp crush was once a prop in a Stephen King miniseries, a former chef’s dramatic kitchen makeover, behind the organized chaos in painter John Whalley’s studio, and ReVision Energy’s Phil Coupe tells how to harness Maine’s surprisingly abundant sunlight to power your home.


Homey Things to Do This Season



A writer discovers that Mainers’ trash is full of treasures.

By Suzanne Rico

The People on the Bus

Meet Ben and Meag Poirier, free spirits who are taking time off to find themselves — in a renovated prison bus.

By Sara Anne Donnelly

How to Buy a Maine Home

Start your search with insight from locals on the ground and this insider’s guide.

By Petra Guglielmetti

Why I Live Here

Each issue, we’ll highlight a reader’s sweet view and Maine story. First up: Joanne Dodge, of Lamoine.

seaside home in Southport, Maine
Photograph by Darren Setlow

On the Cover

Perched at the edge of a granite outcropping in Southport, this home was one of 28 projects entered in the Professional Curb Appeal category in our Maine Homes Design Awards contest. Designed and built by Knickerbocker Group of Portland and Boothbay, the house and its outbuildings draw on classic Shingle-style architecture. A winding path leads to a pier, where visitors can catch a boat to The Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse, located half a mile offshore.