Monday, February 29, 2016

Our Maine Home

How many more weeks did Mr. Groundhog say until spring? It's been such an extreme winter in DC. I'm getting restless. At our former home, this is the time I start checking on my early bulbs for signs of life in the garden. Come this spring, I'm excited to have a fresh plot to plant. Yes, Tom and I have found a new "old" house - a cozy Tudor with lots of period charm. And yes, it needs some work. Stay tuned for the full renovation.

As mentioned previously, I have more "on the move" news to share. Tom and I have decided to downsize in Maine as well. Like our friends, the Crawleys at Downton, we are simplifying and consolidating :) Actually, we have acquired a Castine cottage in need of a major renovation. That means there will be not one but two reno projects ahead. (Okay, we admit to being serial renovators!) So we'll be putting our large, historic home on the market soon.

With 4,000 sq ft, our home, known as the Ca. 1804 Stevens House, is too big for just the two of us, especially since we're only summering there. (BTW, an efficient radiator heating system plus six wood-burning fireplaces make all the rooms wonderfully warm during the winter.) The historic rooms, preserved with architectural details, are light and airy courtesy of the soaring high ceilings and many windows. And, they flow graciously from one to another thanks to an open floorplan. It's a comfortable 212-year old home that's been meticulously updated for today.

Some info:
- 4,000 sq ft on 1/2 acre lot
- Formal living and dining rooms 
- Updated kitchen with gas range, new dishwasher, new microwave
- Expansive, open great room with sitting and breakfast areas
- 5 bedrooms (2 with en-suite baths) 
- 3 full baths, 1 powder room
- Second floor library / office with walls of custom built-in bookcases
- Screened porch which converts to sunroom
- Barn with loft / studio over a garage for boats / 2 cars 
- 10' + ceilings on main floor
- 6 wood burning fireplaces
- Long, wide pine floorboards and painted floors
- New washer and dryer 
- Entire exterior newly painted
- New roof
- Gardens with mature perennials, shrubs and trees
- Extensive hardscaping with locally quarried granite

In addition, it is one of Castine's important homes with a rich history dating back to the early 1800s. Nathanial Willson had it built, and sold it to Mason and Sarah Shaw in 1810. The Shaws then sold it to Dr. Joseph Stevens in 1821. Originally built in the Federal style, architectural changes in the Victorian taste were made in the late 1800s. A third floor with Mansard roof was added. During their 60 years there, the Stevens family frequently hosted the American Luminist painter Fitz Henry (Hugh) Lane. Lane, a close friend, spent many summers with the family while painting Castine Harbor as well as the coast of Maine. Lane is considered to be one of America's greatest marine painters.

Below is a painting of our home depicted by Lane in 1859:
Compare it to this photograph taken in 1871. The front entry is different; as are parts of the fence. But the most dramatic change is the chestnut tree. 

Here are three works of Castine Harbor painted by Lane from 1851-56:
Now let's see our house today, starting with the freshly painted exterior. I chose a crisp palette of white, gray and navy. The gray and navy blue are in high gloss.
From spring to fall, the garden beds flanking the granite steps overflow with perennials including alchemillas, delphiniums, geraniums, hostas, lupines, phlox, etc. Recently, I introduced native ferns throughout the property. Guests always comment on the lush plantings and handsome stonework. The steps are all carved granite.
This Victorian bay window was added in the late 1800s. During the winter, all the windows are protected by custom storms.
Two views of the barn, which is now a garage with a studio loft above. The barn is connected to the house via the sunroom (that converts to a screened porch during the summer) and kitchen addition. We usually park in front of the gray barn doors (where the land is flat), and enter via the sunroom. There is a small mudroom just before the kitchen .
For this tour, please come in through the front doors. Welcome!
To the right is the sunny living room. Like all the other rooms, this one enjoys double exposure with windows on two sides. The Federal mantel was scraped back to reveal its early painted surface.
I've furnished with a mix of old and new, keeping the decor casual and a bit coastal. Many of the antique ironstone and shells came from the local shops in Belfast, Ellsworth and Searsport. The plush, down-filled seating pieces, all new, are extremely comfy. And with slipcovers, cleaning is a breeze.

Tom and I are entertaining the idea of selling the house furnished to make it a turnkey transaction for the new owners.
Across from the living room is the dining room. Again, a mix of antiques and new furnishings. Although the American Federal corner cabinet is from Pennsylvania, it looks like it could be original to the house - perfect fit, and very similar pinewood as the floors. Over the mantel is a piece of driftwood picked up at a nearby beach. I love incorporating found objects from nature! The huge 19th century schooner hooked rug is from Pumpkin Patch Antiques in Searsport.
Here is the kitchen addition. We had the cabinets repainted in Benjamin Moore's White Dove. Granite for the countertops was quarried from nearby Deer Island. Notice the reclaimed soapstone sink from Portland. 
Next to the kitchen addition is the breakfast room, which was where the original kitchen was located. There is a massive brick fireplace, complete with bread oven, for cooking.
At the other end of this open great room is our sitting area. The wide pine floorboards extend from the sitting area all the way to the kitchen. They add such warmth to this expansive space. 
Let's chat about the decor here. I went with a classic blue-and-white scheme. All the maritime artwork came from antiques shops throughout Maine. The lamps were originally pots from Pottery Barn; I had them converted.  
Upstairs on the second floor is a library / office and two master suites. Both bedrooms have their original Federal dadoes as well as fireplaces. Here is one of them.
An unusual hooked rug, patterned after a stained glass window, hangs over a collection of vintage American flower doorstops on the mantel. I love elevating objects into art.

To the right of the fireplace is a door leading to an en-suite bath with closets.  
On the third floor are three more bedrooms. This one has twin beds from Ikea. I furnished entirely on a budget....read more here.
All the windows on the third floor are placed within the mansard roof's dormers. In addition to being charming, they flood the rooms with light, and bring in that fresh Maine air. Our guests enjoy sleeping under duvets with the windows open.

Speaking of fresh air, let's end our tour in the screened porch (breezeway), which converts to a sunroom. The 12 panels can be fitted with screens or glass. Rain or shine, this room is bright and cheerful, and enjoys lovely views of the garden. 
Whew! That was a long tour...told you the house is big. We'll be officially listing it soon. Anyone interested? Please let me know :)

Before I sign off, I want to mention that our home plus 17 other properties will be on the 2016 Castine House and Garden Tour. Please save July 13th on your calendar. Click on website for more info: CastineHouseTour.com
Cheers,
Loi
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