ABOVE The home faces southeast to maximize morning sun, which is absorbed by 72 rooftop solar panels, installed by Portland’s Revision Energy, and makes the stucco by Sto glow fiery orange. An iron-inlaid mahogany door echoes the arched porch and a square “bell tower” contains a third-floor yoga studio.
TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
After nine years of caring for their aging home and pottery studio in downtown Portland, Sarah and Chris Sorenson yearned for a low-maintenance new build in the country. Sarah’s mother was also ready to retire and wanted to build alongside the couple and their kids. But finding affordable land proved tough. Then, in 2012, they were looking at a 38-acre parcel in Hollis when the neighbor who had recently inherited the plot struck up a conversation. Upon hearing the Sorensons’ multi-generational plan, “she basically made it mandatory that we buy it,” says Sarah, who owns Earth & Soul Pottery. Sarah and Chris, an environmental scientist, paid in installments until they sold their Portland place and could purchase the land outright, then set to work creating their dream “hacienda” in the Maine woods.
Sarah and her mom, Rachelle McKenzie, designed the home in the Spanish Revival style, with a central staircase decorated with tiles Sarah modeled on Mexican pottery anchoring an open plan with arched doorways and original art, including an oil streetscape by her aunt, Linda Bervill. “Chris and I traveled quite a bit in Mexico, and I loved the hacienda style,” she says. “The tiles in the house are warm; the colors are warm. I just gravitated toward that.”
For the entrance to McKenzie’s house, which is connected via this greenhouse, Sarah spent a month creating a mosaic of a red-headed mermaid holding a bouquet of lavender. On the opposite wall, she is finishing a mosaic of a peacock. When it’s warm, the family dines here, on a thrift-store table inlaid with Sarah’s decorative tiles.
Twelve-year-old Aurelia personalized her room with two shades of purple paint — Ancestral Haze by Valspar and Pale Plum by Olympic — and flower paintings, including a still life of roses from Sarah’s uncle’s art collection. “She’s one of those kids who wants to be barefoot in a crown of flowers playing outside all the time,” Sarah says.
In the second-floor library, a card table rescued from the side of the road showcases a clay chess set, made by Sarah and her kids, that pits lizards against mermaids. Walls in Valspar’s City Chartreuse and a vintage cabinet Sarah painted wine red pack a complementary punch.
A spectrum of greens — on the walls, bench from Massachusetts’s Brimfield flea market, and oil painting by Sarah’s friend, Massachusetts artist Laura Dozor — enlivens a kitchen corner with a hand-me-down table and chairs and hutch displaying Sarah’s collection of homemade teas and McKenzie’s vintage coffee grinder.
In a bay window in the living room, painted Brown Mustard by Olympic, citrus, bay, and rosemary plants flourish in terracotta pots by Sarah. The casements’ modern grids nod to Spanish Revival iron grates, and their rich moldings reference the seating. In her eclectic, colorful abode, Sarah says, “I can have dark, old furniture, but it doesn’t make the house dark. It’s still got a friendly, welcoming vibe.”