ABOVE Relaxing with dachshund mix Emmet on a sectional Sutton made for the deck the couple built. The house, which has a daylight basement, looks sleek in Behr’s Winter Way.
TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOS BY DANIELLE SYKES
“From the beginning of our relationship, we always said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to renovate a 1960s ranch?’” Gabriel Keith Sutton says. His partner, native Wisconsinite Megan Rochelo, grew up in a ranch-style home, and Sutton fondly remembers his grandparents’ place in his hometown of Kent, Ohio, which “had ranch vibes to it.” The couple rehabbed their first rambler, in Biddeford, in 2014, then purchased a larger one three blocks away, with room to add on a workshop for Sutton’s furniture-making business. Built in 1965 and sporting Kelly-green shingles and white shutters, it conjured Kevin Arnold’s retro suburban pad. But Sutton and Rochelo had a plan to modernize it, both inside — where “nicotine-colored” walls and heavy wood finishes reigned — and out. “We saw the potential in the structure,” Rochelo says. “We knew we could bring in our own style with wallpaper, art, and furniture.” Sutton’s mid-century–inspired pieces, for instance, are a perfect fit.
At the couple’s housewarming party, 60 or so guests crammed into a small dining area next to a U-shaped kitchen island. “That told us we needed to change the floor plan,” Rochelo says. They knocked down a wall between the kitchen and living room, and Sutton crafted a compact walnut-topped island, plus walnut shelves and doors for the lower cabinets. Painted in Behr’s Satin Black, they set off snowy quartz countertops, subway tile, and pendants from Portland’s Campfire Pottery. Playful Hygge & West wallpaper “adds interest without having to make a fancy kitchen,” Rochelo says.
“Gabe tends to like more brown, and I like all the colorful things,” says Rochelo, who juxtaposed Jungalow wallpaper and pillows with a Crate & Barrel sleeper sofa, eBay rug, Target brass lamp, and walnut coffee table by Sutton for a boho-meets-mid-century vibe in the daylight basement. White and teal paint brightened the room’s precipitous wood paneling. Sutton, who wasn’t sold on the jungle print at first, now says “it’s my favorite part of the house.”
Sutton and Rochelo’s first move was to paint the entire house white. In the living room, it remains a clean backdrop for a walnut lamp and oak-and-maple credenza Sutton made, and art by Kennebunkport’s Meredith Radford; Biddeford’s Gil Corral; Rochelo’s mom, Patricia Skelly; and Sutton’s mom, Deborah Keith. One of Keith’s watercolors depicts a dining chair Sutton designed set against the den’s jungle-print wallpaper (above).
Pale-pink hexagonal floor tile launched the design of the couple’s latest project: an overhaul of their primary bath, previously decked out in brown-and-white linoleum and wall tile. By matching the new flooring with gilded Hygge & West wallpaper, brass West Elm sconces, and a quartz-topped walnut vanity by Sutton, “we realized we could make a super chill, tranquil space,” Rochelo says.
During the pandemic, Rochelo worked as chief of staff to the speaker of the Maine House and used this room as an office. She painted a mural on the wall and hung a painting by Biddeford’s Hannah Hirsch above an oak-and-velvet chair by Sutton, creating what had to be one of the sweetest Zoom backdrops in state politics. A close rival: the wallpaper in the kitchen, where she previously worked. “People would message me during meetings to say, ‘Your wallpaper is super cool,’” Rochelo says.
Recently, Sutton and Rochelo relocated their walnut dining table and chairs, crafted by Sutton, from the kitchen to the basement den. A plaid, walnut-framed sofa he made occupies the former dining nook, allowing one person to kick back while the other cooks. “The chair, the couch, it’s such a personal piece,” Sutton says. “I don’t care what kind of day you had. You can sit in your favorite comfy chair and feel relaxed.”