Monday, April 7, 2008

Style Guide: Victorian House, At Ease In Maine

The pared-down interior of this renovated Victorian embodies the quiet charms of seaside living.

To lighten and brighten the exterior of this 1886 Victorian house, its owners replaced its dark-green aluminum siding with untreated cedar shingles and rebuilt a rear addition that had compromised the dwelling's architectural spirit. Inside, they removed patterned wallpapers, pulled up carpets to expose wood floors, and chose sunny paints and comfortable furnishings to create an unfussy, streamlined look that befits the house's coastal location.

Come inside and see how an authentic old home was updated in a modern style with bright colors and an uncomplicated decorating scheme.

Living Room

"This was the first room we tackled," the owner says of the bright living room. Working with designer Patricia O'Shaughnessy, they stripped its wallpaper, installed a beaded-board ceiling, and painted the floor a brilliant blue to achieve the crisp, fresh look they wanted. They opted for a mix of pale upholstery fabrics -- damask for the camelback sofa, heavy cotton for the matching armchairs and the slipcover on the rounded-back love seat.

A club chair that had been included in the house sale was rejuvenated by a vivid striped slipcover. Bordered by a gilded frame, billowy cumulous clouds rendered in oil by Connecticut artist Ralph Feyl reinforce the calming effect of the room's color scheme. Stars are used as decorative elements throughout the interior.


Even though it is in an old house, the kitchen has a sleek, modern appeal thanks to smooth surfaces and a palette that is limited to white with touches of yellow and blue. Situated at the back of the house, the newly rebuilt kitchen boasts pine floors, custom cabinetry, and a ceramic-tile backsplash with a contrasting diamond-motif border.

Glass-fronted cabinets display colorful dishes, and the commodious center island performs triple duty as a desk, cooktop, and grill.

Dining Room

"We bought the house as is -- with books, paintings, and furniture," says the owner. "We edited out some things, but we kept as much as we could." The dining room's turn-of-the-century table and chairs are but a few of the items the couple opted to keep.

Fresh-picked sweet peas, cosmos, and hydrangeas add color to the tabletop set with pink-luster-decorated teacups. A variety of taste treats await the hour of afternoon tea. The pale peach walls are nicely complemented by the pretty table cloth.


The couple converted four narrow rooms into a spacious master suite consisting of a bedroom, bathroom, and dressing room. Taking its cue from the seaside setting the dressing area is enlivened by graphic cockleshell wallpaper. A vintage photograph, a frosted-glass vase brimming with Queen Anne's lace, and a tea box discovered in one of the dresser drawers are displayed on the sturdy bureau.

Pickled-pine floors, white walls, and a ceiling painted in pale periwinkle create a sense of expansiveness as well as calm in the master bedroom, viewed through the door. The four-poster bed was constructed from weathered wood salvaged from a porch in the South.


The colors of the ocean and sky are reflected in the peaceful bathroom. Beaded board was used to create storage space along the wall behind the pedestal sink. Clustered on the ledge are silver-plated mint julep cups.

An engraved soap dish and an earthenware pitcher filled with hydrangeas sit behind the sink. The various blues and greens seen in the room are tied together in the simple woven rug.


Pink asters, larkspur, black-eyed Susans, and towering sunflowers reflect the colors of the interior rooms, and bloom along a path that leads to the beach. The pale, untreated cedar shingles that cover the house replaced dark green aluminum siding. Pots of annuals line the steps, which lead down to the grass.

The owners can dine outside here and enjoy the expansive Maine views. Inside, the decor of this relaxing home reflect all of the colors found outside in the nature that surrounds it.

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