House Tour

Art Smart

Bold pieces and inventive pairings punctuate a painter’s otherwise classic Yarmouth home.

TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
Jenny Prinn's living room

ABOVE  In Jenny and Christopher Prinn’s Yarmouth home, a 1970 Drexel coffee table that belonged to Jenny’s parents anchors the living room, where pillows with graphic, handmade covers bought on Etsy reference wall art by, from left, Jenny, Pat Cantin, and Karl Blossfeldt.

A sellers’ market can make buyers do crazy things. Like, say, purchase a derelict four-bedroom home littered with cat excrement for their young family. “We were desperate,” says artist Jenny Prinn, who had a toddler and another child on the way when she and her husband, Christopher, went to look at a 1970 garrison in Yarmouth with dog-chewed molding, stained wall-to-wall carpeting, and a glass door so yellow it was practically opaque. It was 2005, the height of the housing bubble, and the Prinns were in a bind. They’d sold their South Portland Greek Revival in a day and had been living with family for months while bidding unsuccessfully on houses. Of the garrison, “originally, I said ‘no way,’” recalls Christopher, a creative director who, like Jenny, grew up in Yarmouth and had even mowed the home’s lawn as a teenager. “But it was in the right town, right neighborhood, and, being a visual person, I could see the potential.”

Now the house is a cozy, colorful oasis that seems a century older than it is, thanks to an infusion of retro architectural details rendered in a style Jenny calls “New England classic.” “We love the holiday season and romantic notions of fall and winter, fires, and families together and cooking,” says Jenny, who was raised in historic homes by antiques-dealer parents. So after gutting and rebuilding the interior, Jenny designed and Christopher implemented a nostalgic patina that includes recessed- and raised-panel wainscoting, columned knee walls between the den and kitchen, a built-in corner china cabinet with Victorian-inspired molding in the dining room, and a corbeled mantel with a pink-marble header framing a self-ventilating living room fireplace you’d swear had a chimney.

Layered atop this good-natured deception is plenty of what Jenny calls “vibration,” a dose of crackling modernity that comes from bold colors, patterns, and asymmetry — elements that also figure strongly in her abstract paintings. “With symmetry, the eye locks in and is, in a way, frozen because it’s taking in all of the information equilaterally,” she says. “But with asymmetry, you can dictate how the eye travels around the space and everything becomes more alive.” In the living room, for example, a slender black chinoiserie table displaying a Royal Haeger antelope sculpture and a hefty black-and-white-striped cube topped with an Art Deco bust and colorful pottery flank a Home Goods loveseat and massive late-60s abstract painting that, like the larger scene, is weighted more heavily on one side. In the dining room, meantime, a Dawn Wolfe work depicting vibrant concentric circles that appear to blur and spin hangs off-center over a vintage carved sideboard, the painting’s lower-right corner tethered by a pink slag glass lamp from Jenny’s grandmother.

Stirring up such energy, even for a pro like Jenny, is a trial-and-error effort that can take years. Just as Christopher continues to build out parts of the house, Jenny still repaints rooms, replaces objects, moves furniture around. “I’ll put a piece someplace that I think is where it should go and two years later it will be like, ‘no, no, no, it needs to go right here,’” she says. The Prinns, on the other hand, are staying put. “The house now feels like it hugs us as opposed to being this open expanse,” she says. “And that is the feeling that I really wanted for our family.”

ABOVE  In the den, grasscloth wallpaper provides a rustic backdrop for warm-toned art, including an orange-and-aqua work by Jenny, who is pictured in the living room. In the dining room, a Dawn Wolfe painting forms a rainbow vortex over a vintage sideboard displaying keepsakes including Jenny’s mother’s wedding portrait, minerals from her dad, and her grandmother’s slag glass lamp.

LEFT TO RIGHT 1) The living room’s Maine Cottage lamp shade echoes the stripes on a Crate & Barrel table; the landscape is by Yarmouth painter Alfred Chadbourn. 2) Books by Chadbourn and the illustrator Maira Kalman provide a perch for an Art Deco bust, vintage pottery, and an acrylic by the Prinns’ elder son, Oliver. 3) A comic book-inspired shield the Prinns made for their boys hangs over their playroom desk — an IKEA cabinet and dresser with new chrome hardware and legs, topped with a walnut board. 4) Nudes by C.M. Williams and Margette Leanna grace the front hall.

Art Smart

Bold pieces and inventive pairings punctuate a painter’s otherwise classic Yarmouth home.

Jenny Prinn's living room

ABOVE In Jenny and Christopher Prinn’s Yarmouth home, a 1970 Drexel coffee table that belonged to Jenny’s parents anchors the living room, where pillows with graphic, handmade covers bought on Etsy reference wall art by, from left, Jenny, Pat Cantin, and Karl Blossfeldt.

TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE

A sellers’ market can make buyers do crazy things. Like, say, purchase a derelict four-bedroom home littered with cat excrement for their young family. “We were desperate,” says artist Jenny Prinn, who had a toddler and another child on the way when she and her husband, Christopher, went to look at a 1970 garrison in Yarmouth with dog-chewed molding, stained wall-to-wall carpeting, and a glass door so yellow it was practically opaque. It was 2005, the height of the housing bubble, and the Prinns were in a bind. They’d sold their South Portland Greek Revival in a day and had been living with family for months while bidding unsuccessfully on houses. Of the garrison, “originally, I said ‘no way,’” recalls Christopher, a creative director who, like Jenny, grew up in Yarmouth and had even mowed the home’s lawn as a teenager. “But it was in the right town, right neighborhood, and, being a visual person, I could see the potential.”

Now the house is a cozy, colorful oasis that seems a century older than it is, thanks to an infusion of retro architectural details rendered in a style Jenny calls “New England classic.” “We love the holiday season and romantic notions of fall and winter, fires, and families together and cooking,” says Jenny, who was raised in historic homes by antiques-dealer parents. So after gutting and rebuilding the interior, Jenny designed and Christopher implemented a nostalgic patina that includes recessed- and raised-panel wainscoting, columned knee walls between the den and kitchen, a built-in corner china cabinet with Victorian-inspired molding in the dining room, and a corbeled mantel with a pink-marble header framing a self-ventilating living room fireplace you’d swear had a chimney.

ABOVE In the den, grasscloth wallpaper provides a rustic backdrop for warm-toned art, including an orange-and-aqua work by Jenny, who is pictured in the living room. In the dining room, a Dawn Wolfe painting forms a rainbow vortex over a vintage sideboard displaying keepsakes including Jenny’s mother’s wedding portrait, minerals from her dad, and her grandmother’s slag glass lamp

Layered atop this good-natured deception is plenty of what Jenny calls “vibration,” a dose of crackling modernity that comes from bold colors, patterns, and asymmetry — elements that also figure strongly in her abstract paintings. “With symmetry, the eye locks in and is, in a way, frozen because it’s taking in all of the information equilaterally,” she says. “But with asymmetry, you can dictate how the eye travels around the space and everything becomes more alive.” In the living room, for example, a slender black chinoiserie table displaying a Royal Haeger antelope sculpture and a hefty black-and-white-striped cube topped with an Art Deco bust and colorful pottery flank a Home Goods loveseat and massive late-60s abstract painting that, like the larger scene, is weighted more heavily on one side. In the dining room, meantime, a Dawn Wolfe work depicting vibrant concentric circles that appear to blur and spin hangs off-center over a vintage carved sideboard, the painting’s lower-right corner tethered by a pink slag glass lamp from Jenny’s grandmother.

Stirring up such energy, even for a pro like Jenny, is a trial-and-error effort that can take years. Just as Christopher continues to build out parts of the house, Jenny still repaints rooms, replaces objects, moves furniture around. “I’ll put a piece someplace that I think is where it should go and two years later it will be like, ‘no, no, no, it needs to go right here,’” she says. The Prinns, on the other hand, are staying put. “The house now feels like it hugs us as opposed to being this open expanse,” she says. “And that is the feeling that I really wanted for our family.”

ABOVE 1) The living room’s Maine Cottage lamp shade echoes the stripes on a Crate & Barrel table; the landscape is by Yarmouth painter Alfred Chadbourn. 2) Books by Chadbourn and the illustrator Maira Kalman provide a perch for an Art Deco bust, vintage pottery, and an acrylic by the Prinns’ elder son, Oliver. 3) A comic book-inspired shield the Prinns made for their boys hangs over their playroom desk — an IKEA cabinet and dresser with new chrome hardware and legs, topped with a walnut board. 4) Nudes by C.M. Williams and Margette Leanna grace the front hall.


One Comment

  1. Classic and Beautiful. That house is exceptional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *