Maine Cabin House Tour – How to Decorate with Antiques


Lisa Romerein20th century workshops

We called it the Silk Purse Project because it started life as a pig’s ear. As for the structure itself, the small single-storey camp, built in 1950 and abandoned for years, had little to offer. But it was clear why its owners clung to the place for nearly half a century. The idyllic pond. The majestic mountain. A perfectly imperfect slamming screen door. Jubilant bullfrogs. The loon is calling. The old school floating dock just begs to play “jump or dive”. How could anyone let this pass?

We had a secret weapon in the family. The design/build team Tom Young and his wife, my sister Mary Ann, who live in the next village, made our new little camp what they do best: transform rather than demolish. In just a few months, Red Cottage (named after the color of its trim and roof shingles) was a polished story taller, its asphalt shingle siding replaced with cedar to blend in with the pine and birch trees. surrounding. Inside, we bathed the walls in white paint and, over the course of two decades, changed the colors of the floors several times before arriving at a combination of stone, sunshine yellow and chocolate for the stairs.

For nearly two decades, my husband, Stephen, and I, and our sons, Finn and James (now 17 and 14, respectively), have made our ritual summer exodus from scorching Brooklyn, New York, to our well-known camp. loved in Maine. At the end of June, eight hours on the road inevitably turned into 12, because there was a house to furnish, and there was no better resource than flea markets, antique cooperatives and tag sales. so ubiquitous along the coast. The truth is, every piece of furniture in the cottage – except for a pair of chests of drawers from Ikea that we painted slate gray and raised off the floor by adding legs – came out of these readers.

We arrived under an inky black sky dotted with stars. Crickets, loons and bullfrogs owned the night. In the early years, I would fly swims across the pond while the babies slept, all that cool air ensuring they wouldn’t wake up until I got back to our dock.

Over the years we changed the layout of the ground floor, eventually knocking down the wall that once separated the living space from what was a very dark bedroom. By adding vintage bay windows to take advantage of the morning light, we created an ideal breakfast room and chose to paint the floor a bright yellow to make the room shine. When we found the spacious round table with lazy Susan, we felt lucky to have the right place for it.

Each piece came together organically; we never had a plan. Buying pieces we liked seemed like the wisest approach. What we ruthlessly tried to avoid was turning this simple, sweet cabin into something it wasn’t. There is no dishwasher, no microwave, no washing machine, no TV. There’s a comfy sofa with a washable cotton canvas cover, great reading chairs that are easy to angle towards a crackling fire (not unusual on a late August night) or join in a conversation, bookcases (built by Stephen) filled with books, and good lighting, including a driftwood lamp post hung during a barn sale.

When I think about what really brings us joy in these 950 square feet, it comes down to the rituals we create there. The Monopoly games all summer long, the kids furiously reading their Hardy Boys mysteries, the endless servings of blueberry pie, the silent nights, the crisp cotton bed sheets against sun-stained skin. As soon as the boys could stand, we started marking their growth on a door frame in the kitchen. Every time I pass by, I stop short. I know where the time has gone, and aren’t we all luckier for it?

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