They're Cool With Their Kid-Friendly Sebago Home
A family brings youthful energy (and weddings!) to a storied 19th-century farmhouse.
ABOVE In seven-year-old Richard’s room, he and his six-year-old sister, Evangeline, hang from a pine bunk bed their dad made. The 1960s dresser, topped with a vintage globe from Cornish Trading Company, was Sarah Bianculli’s growing up.
TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
From the September 2022 issue of Down East magazine
Since 2015, Sarah and Rich Bianculli have operated a wedding venue in their Sebago barn while slowly renovating their attached 1817 farmhouse. “To me, all the imperfections tell the story,” Sarah says. One that includes three generations of Haleys, the home’s original owners, all of whom are buried next to the barn, and periods where the place served as a general store and a hippie commune, before being abandoned in the 1980s. In the late ’90s, former owners refurbished it. The Biancullis, who have three kids, have sought to inject youthful, modern touches while celebrating a history whose resonance with the present can feel positively eerie. As a girl, the last Haley to inhabit the home, Sarah, wrote her name over and over on a piece of wood that became part of a drawer in a guest-room built-in. “When you open a drawer and see your name written 100-something years ago, it’s like seeing a ghost,” Sarah (Bianculli) says.
“I have this loose rule that every room has something new to me, something vintage or antique, and something passed down from my family,” Sarah says. “It brings in soul and a story, but also has the clean, modern lines my husband likes.” Here, a mid-century–style lavender sofa from Article, Shaker-style chairs in Tricorn Black, and a minimalist Birch Lane chandelier pair with a World War II–era dresser from Sarah’s great-grandmother and a circa 1900 English oak side table from Den of Antiquities, in Windham. The walls are Eider White by Sherwin-Williams.
On the porch, the Biancullis painted an antique church pew left at the house in Forsythia, by Sherwin-Williams, to match the exterior doors. The home’s white-and-yellow color scheme dates back to World War II, the Biancullis believe, and they have no plans to change it. “Our couples who get married here, everyone takes pictures in front of the yellow barn door,” Sarah says.
The moody dining room “envelopes you when you walk in,” says Sarah, who chose Sherwin-Williams’s Evergreen Fog to complement the original dark maple trim and wainscoting. Coats of Tricorn Black, also Sherwin-Williams, unite the contemporary table and thrifted chairs with a wrought-iron chandelier from Sarah’s mother. On the wall: an early-1900s photo, found at the Sebago Historical Society, depicting a few of the original owners’ horses.
From the 1940s to the ’70s, a relative of the Haleys ran a general store in the corridor between the kitchen and barn. A towering kitchen cabinet used to store shop goods remains, much to the relief of locals. “A lot of towns-people ask if we still have the cabinet with the little drawers,” says Sarah, who painted it Maison Blanche by Sherwin-Williams and stitched a floral skirt for the cherrywood island.
Rectangular Crate & Barrel mirrors and spherical sconces from Home Depot create an artful geometry above a vanity from Portland’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The walls and trim are Sherwin-Williams’s Snowbound and Agreeable Gray. “We wanted neutral walls so we can add color with rugs or pillows that are easier to change than paint,” Sarah says.
“Every time I walk up and down the stairs with my babies, I think about [first owner] Miriam Haley, who raised four children here, and how many times she walked up and down with her babies,” Sarah says. An 1871 map of the area, found on Etsy, shows the farm owned by “W. Haley Jr.” On the peg rail is an antique Shaker candleholder from Evie’s Downtown, in Cornish.
The room Evangeline and one-year-old Amelie share features a twin bed from Sarah’s aunt, refinished in Jade Dragon by Sherwin-Williams; a coral-painted 19th-century washstand from Facebook Marketplace; and a vintage rattan vanity bought on Craigslist years ago. “I found it and I was like, ‘I’m gonna save this for my future child!’” Sarah recalls.
A pillow stitched from a vintage kilim, found at Bridgton’s Scout, picks up the tones in a mid-century–style love seat from Wayfair and botanical prints from Juniper. On the floor, a bookshelf Sarah converted into a “mouse house” contains teensy furniture from Portland’s Little and Cornish’s At Once All Agog. “Raising my family here,” Sarah says, “I love the idea of becoming part of the story of this farm.”