TEXT BY VIRGINIA M. WRIGHT
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH SZWAJKOS
At first glance, this unpretentious Greek Revival home appears little changed since it was built in Camden village in 1850. Yes, the ell is new, but the house’s original details — the recessed doorway with sidelights, the simple window hoods, and the rafter tails under the eaves — are intact. But some traditional elements are missing. Do you see which ones? Look at the windows: There are no grilles. The tall sweeps of undivided glass are a contemporary touch, hinting that something unexpected awaits inside.
The décor fast-forwards the house to the mid-20th century — the era’s minimalist interiors and sleek, unembellished furniture are now enjoying a revival. “We like to joke that it’s a London brownstone moved to Maine,” says Camden interior designer Jessie Tobias, who worked with Heather, the homeowner, to furnish the spaces (Heather asked that her surname not be used). The gridless windows, along with other renovations made by a previous owner, steered them to mid-century modern style, expressed here in the upholstered chairs (West Elm), and the louvered credenza (Design Within Reach). It was Heather’s idea to use the same bold color — Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe — on the walls and wainscoting. Lincolnville ceramicist Simon van der Ven made the honeycombed vessels.
Twin Eames lounge chairs and ottomans are focal pieces in Heather’s simply furnished living room. Made from molded plywood shells and upholstered in leather, the Eames chair is a modern-style icon that’s still in production 63 years after it was launched by designers Charles and Ray Eames (one of the originals is in the Museum of Modern Art). The elegant Jøtul cast-iron gas stove looks like a sculptural counterpoint to California artist Serena Mitnik-Miller’s watercolor on the far wall. The window shades can be raised from the bottom or lowered from the top, allowing for both privacy and an unobstructed view.
Heather and her dog, Huckleberry, step into her “dream-come-true” mudroom, which was one of her first priorities (along with a garage) when she and her two children moved into the house 1½ years ago. Camden architect Joseph Russillo found room on the small in-town lot by arranging the buildings around a small courtyard/driveway — the mudroom is in the new ell and the garage is unattached. Cabinetmakers Bench Dogs, based in nearby Washington, designed and built the cubbies and closets. The space is warmed (and boot puddles quickly dried) by radiant heat. Tobias chose the black cement hex tiles and pale-gray paint (Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray) and found the vintage black-and-red rugs.
Heather worked with Russillo to create a master bedroom suite by eliminating a back staircase and adding dormers on both exterior walls. The former landing is now a walk-in closet and pass-through to a large bathroom with separate tub and shower. (On the first floor, a nook for a small wine refrigerator occupies the former stairwell space.)
This first-floor bathroom and laundry room was refreshed with a new sink and Eskayel’s Dynasty wallpaper in slate. “I had been wanting to use this wallpaper for years but didn’t have the right client for it,” Tobias says. “Heather is always willing to take a chance!” For her part, Heather says Tobias nudged her to be more adventurous with colors and fabrics than she might have been had she tackled the project alone. “I was so overwhelmed, and I really needed help,” she says. “Jessie was great to work with. It was a partnership.”