Home products with bold, Maine-inspired prints, a fearsome pirate drove the design of this MDI inn, do your house proud with a portrait by a local artist, this Freeport shop is your new happy place, you didn’t want to nod off in this former church in Alna, and a 19th-century inventor’s home needs a hero.
We’re crushing on this glass-walled Denmark camp, a day-and-night makeover for a Damariscotta cabin, five minutes with Portland metalsmith Aminata Conteh, a Newcastle camper gets a glow-up, DIYers’ furniture-refinishing tricks, introducing a Portland “plant healer,” and a South Paris couple’s cordwood home is artful, efficient, and rock solid.
Or floating nuisance? In Maine, where some houseboat owners are navigating troubled waters, it depends on whom you ask. By Sara Anne Donnelly
Meet nine female building pros who are changing the construction landscape in Maine. By Sarah Stebbins
Behold the winning projects submitted by pros and readers.
On Vinalhaven, antiques dealers curate an eclectic summer home and shop in a 19th-century former gas station. By Joyce Kryszak
English countryside meets Cumberland Foreside in a family’s hands-on renovation, pulled off at the height of the pandemic. By Petra Guglielmetti
Inside a couple’s sleek, net-zero Saltbox in Freeport: vintage Left Coast vibes. By Sara Anne Donnelly
In Wilton, a friendly gardener creates a vibrant refuge for people and pollinators. By Aurelia C. Scott
A Yarmouth yard produces apples, maple syrup, and lasting friendships.
Cover photo by Jeff Roberts
Sixteen years ago, I was on a magazine assignment in a down east town and Mark, who is now my husband, was tagging along. We were wandering the main street trying to find I-can’t-remember-what, when I stopped to ask a man for directions. He did not look at me, and instead gave instructions directly to Mark. Before we parted, the man asked Mark what brought him to town, and he replied, “We’re here for my girlfriend’s job.” Without so much as a glance at me, the guy nodded and walked away.
I’ve long since forgotten that man’s face, but I’ll never forget the way he made me feel: insignificant, incompetent, and utterly unworthy of his time. I am fortunate that incidents like this one have been relatively isolated in my life and career. Women who bravely follow their passions into male-dominated fields aren’t always so lucky. Everyone I interviewed for our story on Maine’s female builders (Making Their Mark, page 40) had tales of being ignored, dismissed, or condescended to. “I’ve had the same experience a million times where someone comes into the shop, where I am, and they’re like, ‘Is anybody here?’” said Katherine Carlson, of Avon’s Maine Mountain Timber Frames, in one of several anecdotes that didn’t make it into the piece. Ann-Marie Waterhouse, of Kittery design-build firm Alice + Bird, recalled clients who wanted to remove a kitchen wall. When she told them a post was needed to support the roof, the husband replied, “‘Can’t you just make your little design and get rid of the wall better?’ Like we were playing with little fixtures in a dollhouse.”
Team Building: One of these women doesn’t belong here (me, fifth from left), but the group was nice to let me play an accomplished female contractor for a few moments. Afterward, I interviewed the whole crew and I’m excited to share what they had to say.
No one in the group of nine wanted to dwell on the negative incidents, which, they said, are mostly not the norm. But, to me, knowing what they’ve overcome adds luster to their already- brilliant work. And for potential clients, it’s instructive to know that your contractor has more experience dealing gracefully with adversity than anyone should. These pros bring plenty of other talents to their projects, which they’ll tell you about, and they’ve got ideas on how to get more women into the field. Celebrating the strength in their small number feels like a start. “In my initial nervousness, I think I overlooked the significance of a room full of women, directed by women, all successful and self-supporting,” Waterhouse texted me after photo editor Tara Rice and I brought the group together for a photo shoot. “It was very powerful.” I hope you feel the same.