Home products in trendy, tie-dye motifs, stylish camper vans for sale in Portland, Turkish rugs abound at this new Freeport shop, artful Maine-made hardware, artists reimagine a Phippsburg Grange hall, this ornate Westbrook Queen Anne was once corporate housing, a gabled Penobscot fixer-upper needs your help, and candid answers to your home dilemmas.
We’re crushing on this small MDI camp with an outsize view, a Embden prefab gets polished up, five minutes with Portland potter Avril Williams, a city carriage house becomes a chic guest suite, new botanical textiles by a Camden painter, powder rooms that make a statement, and a Northport shipping-container compound stops traffic.
Writing from her job as a maid in a grand estate with a colorful caretaker, an author finds fresh purpose.
By Elizabeth W. Garber
14 Maine furniture makers crafting inventive, timelessly stylish pieces for your home.
By Sara Anne Donnelly and Sarah Stebbins
An artist and an architect bring their spare, yet colorful, aesthetic to a Vinalhaven cottage designed with guests in mind.
By Michaela Cavallaro
Following an unexpected return to Maine, a couple finds peace in an 800-square-foot kit house in Pownal.
By Sara Anne Donnelly
A streamlined new build (with no closets!) anchors a seafaring couple in Camden.
By Jesse Ellison
In Turner, a former nursery owner mixes unusual plants on a massive blooming “canvas.”
By Aurelia C. Scott
Sunlight fills Chantal Young’s Cape Elizabeth puppy/plant/music room, complete with a heated floor for snoozing pets and a piano named Edith.
Cover photo by Myriam Babin
Right now, I’m typing in my first-floor home office, which is also our playroom, guest room, and exercise room. In the afternoons, there’s usually at least one child on the pull-out sofa here, along with the dog, who likes to watch for cats and delivery trucks through the wraparound bank of windows. Eleven years ago, this was our dining room. Then we had a baby who took over the upstairs guest room and whose toys and whistling, singing paraphernalia displaced the dining set and china cabinet. They’re in the former “formal” living room now, having displaced an ivory Victorian camelback sofa I still dream about. Then a second baby displaced me from my tiny upstairs office. Then COVID hit and my husband and I started working out at home. Which brings us to today, when the writing of an editor’s note, a rod-hockey match, and a Peloton class happened in the same 140-square-foot space.
Instead of hunting for a markedly bigger house, we’ve opted to put on an addition with a bedroom/bath — a move that will deliver me back to my former office and alleviate the four-person pileup in what is presently the only full bath. Among the reasons we decided to stay put, ingrained Yankee thrift is not an insignificant one. I like that we use every room every day, that we aren’t heating or illuminating more space than we need, and that I can vacuum the whole place in a half hour.
ABOVE In my multi-use office, kids’ art and a Peloton are my Zoom backdrop. MDI maker Jamien St. Pierre’s sleek tables suit a tight space (page 52). A 960-square-foot Northport retreat comprises three shipping containers (page 40).
Given current astronomical home-buying and construction costs (“between $100 and $1 million per square foot,” as writer Hannah Holmes puts it on page 26), our growing appreciation of the link between building size and carbon footprint, and a wager that some of you share my frugal bent, we decided to devote the lion’s share of this issue to smallish houses: The majority are less than 1,500 square feet. You’ll meet an architect whose fascination with using existing resources led him to erect a shipping-container compound in Northport (page 40); a Pownal artist who paints in the dining area of her 800-square-foot kit house (page 62); and a Camden couple who wanted a modest place, where “you don’t get to collect too much stuff” (page 68). Wondering how to efficiently furnish your current or future compact space? We’ve compiled a guide to local makers (page 47) who can build just about anything you dream up.
Before going to sleep each night, I walk in circles around our house. Starting in the family room, I cross the kitchen to the office sofa, where I give the dog a belly rub, then head through the dining room and upstairs. Here, I spiral through the kids’ bedrooms, taking in their peaceful breathing, before retreating to my own. Like a dog bedding down, the circling feels vital, instinctual, and conducive to a small nest.