ABOVE The living room’s woodstove was the only thing the couple disagreed on. She wanted a brightly colored mid-century model; he favored a traditional, locally made unit. Their compromise: a sleek, Danish-designed Morsø from Mazzeo’s in Rockland.
TEXT BY JESSE ELLISON
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
Designed by Birke and Olson’s friend, architect Alex Domenico, the house is shaped like a T, with a bedroom at either end of the top stroke and a pair of baths in between. The tall Andersen A-Series casements on the south-facing living room wall maximize solar gain and were the priciest part of the build. Vertical shiplap cladding over horizontal clapboards, both stained in Behr’s Slate, add subtle contrast.
Olson made the island from a mahogany slab he found under concrete rubble at a building he manages in Rockland and powder-coated steel legs purchased for $15 apiece from Harbor Freight. It grounds a mixed-media study by Rockland’s Kathleen Florance and vintage frosted-glass pendants Birke unearthed at Waterville’s Modern Underground. Radiant heat warms the cork flooring.
Birke found a set of mid-century cantilever chairs, so new they still bore their “Made in Italy” stickers, for $4 apiece at Goodwill. She paired them with a teak-veneer table from an auction and a spare brass pendant from Modern Underground. “We are both big minimalists,” Birke says. “I think it’s because both of our parents have a lot of stuff.”
As a young man, Birke’s father bought the 1970s brass Milo Baughman table that occupies a living room corner. It was the only piece she wanted from her parents’ New Hampshire home, and she convinced her mom to part with it by promising to help her find a new one.
Olson clad the shower in the couple’s bath with 12-by-24-inch textured Italian ceramic tile from Marden’s. The brass sconce is from Modern Underground and the sink and cabinet are from Wayfair. Birke uses greenery, including a jade plant on the sink and a golden pothos on a shower shelf, to liven up neutral rooms.
In Birke and Olson’s bedroom, a ceramic Goodwill lamp sits atop a vintage teak dresser from Modern Underground. The home’s walls are Behr’s Gallery White and the ceiling is Number 4 knotty pine, the cheapest finishing option. “But I really like it,” Birke says. “Without some of these warm things, it would probably feel like an igloo.”