Editor's Note

Maine Homes by Down East Magazine May/June 2020

Editor’s Note

The Guide

The prettiest garden décor we could dig up, antique ship portraits to collect, a backyard floral arrangement to try, Portland’s hippest new inn, pro fabric picks for quarantine projects, a Belgrade farmhouse with Gothic flourishes needs a hero, the backstory on a Kingfield Colonial Revival built by inventors, homes with sweet porches on the market, free design advice!, and candid answers to your home dilemmas.

Get Inspired

We’re crushing on this twinning St. George retreat, a bright revamp transforms a dark (and fumy) Rockport cottage, five minutes with southern Maine creative Sarah Storms, a communal backyard unites neighbors from two towns, and Round Pond’s wee Second Empire celebrity.

There Goes the Neighborhood

Ardent nesters or interlopers? A former city dweller and her brood try to find a middle ground.

By Rosanna Gargiulo

Order in the House

Small office? No office? Jumbled pantry? Local pros address these and other organizational challenges with stylish ideas tailor-made for Maine homes.

By Jen DeRose 

Behind the Canvas

Come be a fly on the wall on this rare tour of homes and studios belonging to 11 celebrated Maine artists.

By Walter Smalling


Inside Out

On Vinalhaven, design ingenuity immerses a New York couple in their wild, waterfront plot.

By Amy Sutherland

Their Blue Heaven

An Icelandic glacier was the springboard for a couple’s serene new build in Falmouth.

By Sara Anne Donnelly

Escape Artists

Georgia painters find peace, and plenty of inspiration, on a remote Penobscot Bay island.

By Joyce Kryszak

Sound Plan

A patchy landscape is made worthy of its perch on MDI’s famous fjard.

By Virginia M. Wright

Why I Live Here

In Brooklin, a waterfront property with a party-ready yard passes from one owner to the next over a croquet lesson.

Cover photo by: Greta Rybus

Editor’s Note

Like many parents, I’ve often wished I could put my kids in a bubble to protect them from the pain and injustice in the world. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all getting our chance. As I type, a Lego moat fortifies my desk chair in the “office” that is also our playroom. My 7-year-old sits steps away, doing his virtual classwork at the kitchen table. A few paces from him, my husband and 9-year-old have claimed opposite ends of the dining room table, which now sports snaking power cords, the remains of a thousand art projects, and, against my strenuous objections, a hulking printer. (Why attorneys print so many things I cannot tell you.) There will be tears today. And arguing. And apologies for the arguing. And way too much screen time. And unspeakable gratitude on the part of two tired parents who know how fortunate we are to be together and healthy during what my mom-friend Kate called “the longest car ride of my life with these people.”

Paradoxically, within our little Venn diagram, we are not adrift. I feel the connection between our circle and our community’s every time we venture outside and encounter a world suddenly filled with surprising gifts: child-drawn rainbows in windows, part of a social distancing-inspired scavenger hunt initiated by the Portland rec department; an elaborate chalk obstacle course someone drew on a sidewalk to amuse passers-by; a box filled with craft kits our neighbor put in her yard, along with a note inviting kids to help themselves; and a birthday celebration for the same neighbor we spontaneously joined, comprised of friends toasting from lawn chairs planted six feet apart.

Scenes From Quarantine: At the end of this obstacle course was a chalk-drawn wishing well inscribed with a message: “Think a good thought for someone you love.” This sweet mansard sports a child’s hopeful rainbow art. I’m sharing my desk with the Lego Ninjago crew. The boys like to play ninjas in their makeshift masks.

Our American Foursquare was built during the Great Depression with little architectural fanfare save an elegant eyebrow window peeking out from the roof. To me, this lone frivolity, like the colorful art popping up around the neighborhood, speaks to the human need to create and celebrate beauty, especially during dark times. This is not mere escapism — it’s what helps us muddle through. In its own small way, I hope this issue inspires you to create beauty in your corner of the world and to celebrate it wherever it exists.

Right now, I’m relishing the westerly light streaming through our dining room windows, illuminating our marker rainbow and the three faces I love more than any others on Earth. And for the moment, it feels like there’s enough grace here to tide us over until we can mingle with you all again in the glory of another Maine summer.

Sarah Stebbins