Their Formal Parlor is Now a Fun-Filled Studio
A couple’s artistic passions drive the design in their Waldoboro Greek Revival.
ABOVE Andrew DeGraff works at a mid-century drawing table, acquired by a friend as surplus from the New York State Museum, in Albany, near where DeGraff grew up.
TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEFF ROBERTS
From the January 2022 issue of Down East magazine
With its wavy-glass windows framed in elaborate moldings and floor-to-ceiling bookcases flanking a central fireplace, the parlor in Michelle Provencal and Andrew DeGraff’s 1850 Greek Revival, in Waldoboro, was originally designed to impress Victorian guests. Today? “It’s like the kids’ room,” jokes DeGraff, an illustrator, who turned the former receiving area into a studio with model airplanes, a mini starship Enterprise, a dartboard, and his own vibrant art on the walls. On the other side of the fireplace wall, Provencal crafts whimsical felted ornaments for her Thirdlee & Co. line of home décor and displays the beachcombing finds that inspire them.
She collects vintage pieces too, which she sells online, showcases throughout the home, and contemplates when creating freelance product designs. A former in-house designer for Anthropologie and Pottery Barn, Provencal used to draw inspiration from museums and design festivals. “Now, I go to Elmer’s Barn, in Whitefield, which is just as exciting.”
Provencal fell in love with Maine during childhood summers at her great-grand-mother’s cottage on Hills Beach, in Biddeford. She and DeGraff moved to the area from San Francisco in 2016 and began looking for a house three years later. They didn’t want to be much more than an hour from Portland, where DeGraff teaches at the Maine College of Art & Design. This well-preserved place sold them on Waldoboro. The kitchen was an outlier, having undergone mid-century, and likely ’90s, renovations. The couple played up the graphic appeal of the checkerboard linoleum floor with Behr’s Whisper White and Winter Way on the cabinets, and they framed a piece of the former pineapple wallpaper. “It was so bad, it was good,” Provencal says. A narrow ironing-board closet is now a spice cabinet.
Provencal photographs products for Thirdlee & Co. — so named because she is a third-generation artist, after her mother, Roberta Lee, and grandfather, Bob Lee — on her studio mantel and a marble-top table from her grandmother. She displays ornaments on manzanita branches and incorporates driftwood into pieces like mobiles and a felted tern, created for an Audubon exhibit.
Seated at a flea-market table in the dining room, furnished with a painting of Biddeford’s Stage Island Monument, by Provencal’s great-aunt, the couple recalls their favorite old-house discovery: a pair of tattered 19th-century men’s shoes concealed in an eave. (Shoe hiding was a British tradition meant to ward off evil spirits.) One of their least favorites? “This house is insulated, probably 80 percent, with acorns,” Provencal says.
A flag by textile artist Emily Manalo Ruiz was the ceremony backdrop at the couple’s wedding. Now, it marries the tones in a vintage rug layered over a larger jute rug. The vintage white bookcase and lamp are from Cottage Decor, in Old Orchard Beach, and the rattan stool is from Cornish Trading Company.
Provencal collects antique demijohns with woven covers and nautical relics, such as these vintage cork fishing floats from South Portland’s Touch of Grey, displayed on a tobacco-drying rack from Scarborough’s Gurley Antiques Gallery. Vintage brass lamps from Portland Flea-For-All, perched on an IKEA bureau, frame the dining-room scene.
A painting, by Provencal’s grandmother, of a fish shack in Rockport, Massachusetts, crowns a hand-me-down nightstand in the couple’s bedroom. The pom-pom-trimmed curtains were inspired by ones in the 1830 farmhouse DeGraff grew up in, and the bed is from Pottery Barn.