There’s a feeling of fortune in knowing someone who has extended an invite to their house at the end of one of midcoast Maine’s peninsulas. Just off Route 1, beyond a scene of lobster shacks and nautically themed shops, there are evergreen-tree-lined dirt roads that lead to incredibly striking landscapes. Rocky outcrops covered in bright green moss suddenly appear between fragrant pines and spruces—often with a bald eagle or two soaring above. No matter the side of the narrow promontory on which said home is perched, the light, wind, and sounds of water present themselves with glory.
Which is all to say, it’s easy to see why anyone would catch a glimpse of the area and want to own a small piece of it. That was exactly the case for one family of five, who were captivated by a retreat in Harpswell, despite having no roots in midcoast Maine. Not long after, they called up interior designer Nina Farmer to make the home feel like a real getaway from their primary residence.
Despite the house’s proximity to the ocean and the feeling the property possessed of seeming to almost float on the nearby water, the desired directive was to eschew a typical beach look in favor of a comfortable, colorful, and more textured aesthetic.
“I [designed the family’s primary home], so it was nice that I had a familiarity with them,” says Farmer, who is based in Boston. “They wanted [the space] to feel very approachable and homey and like a real getaway. The husband is from Scotland, and one of the things that he really liked was that the landscape reminded him of home…with the foggy weather pattern that can roll in and out.” Without heavy-handedness, Farmer incorporated plaids, flannels, and varied textures that spoke to the husband’s memories of Scotland as well.
From the beginning, the owners knew that they were going to do some work to the property, so Farmer analyzed the space and decided on the smallest amount of changes that would make the house more functional and inviting while showcasing the breathtaking exterior view. “We did some layout changes to the second floor,” says the designer. “That was one of the bigger parts of a construction project, as we moved the primary suite to a different location. The first floor pretty much stayed as is; it was really in the finishes, fixtures, and furniture that we made our mark.”
The view from the back of the home showcases the huge rocks on the coast, so Farmer chose to incorporate the stone tones—bits of pink and gray—along with evergreen hues to create a connection between the house and the surrounding landscape. “I really wanted the house to feel very collected. A goal of ours in general is for projects to feel like they’ve been done over a period of time rather than the year that we spend on them,” says Farmer. “One of the big things that we lean upon is vintage pieces, because I always find that a little patina in different places of origin and different centuries really does give you that feeling.” Moving from room to room, spotting the 1940s French dining chairs or the Italian bamboo stools, it’s clear this isn’t just another waterfront home. Even the art on the walls, primarily works by Maine artists, imbues this Harpswell abode with just the right mood.