TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL D. WILSON
As a child who moved every couple of years for her dad’s job, interior designer and Colby grad Laura Keeler Pierce got early lessons in decorating one house after another. Today, she still hops around, running Boston/Seal Harbor–based Keeler & Co. Design, but for 12 years, MDI, where her husband, Vassar, a third great-grandson of Acadia National Park founder Charles W. Eliot, has a family home, has been a summertime constant. Last year, while looking for their own place in Seal Harbor, they learned the Abby Chapel on Main Street was selling an 1880 former store next door. “I thought, ‘we could live and have a shop here!’” Laura says.
The Candage Store turned Billings Meat Market was among the buildings John D. Rockefeller Jr. relocated from Seal Harbor’s waterfront to Main Street to clear the way for the Beatrix Farrand–designed village green in 1919. An abandoned two-unit apartment when the Pierces bought it, the structure underwent a gut reno by Blue Hill’s Hewes and Company, who created a rental unit above the couple’s airy seasonal shop, Rusticator, which opened in July, and a 200-square-foot apartment for them in back.
“I want people to feel like they’re walking into a home,” says Laura, who arranged the narrow plan into living, dining, and “game nook” spaces laden with botanical- and geometric-print upholstered furniture, colorful textiles and ceramics, and art curated by Massachusetts’s Hadley Powell. Inspired by iconic mid-century designers like Billy Baldwin and David Hicks, whose style still holds up, as well as Vassar’s family home, which has sported the same rattan living room furniture for a century, she aimed for timeless pieces with a modern edge, such as a sleek, skirted Highland House sofa with a single seat cushion, “whereas historically you would see three.”