A Historic Maine Cottage
May 7, 2021
Renovated and decorated with a light touch, a historic Maine cottage blends the best of old and new.
Text by Clinton Smith Photography by Victor Harshbarger
When designer Stephanie Woodmansee of New York’s Henry & Co Design got the call to go look at her longtime clients’ recently purchased vacation property in Rockport, Maine, she could relate to the nineteenth-century colonial she encountered upon arrival.
“I lived in eighteen houses growing up,” says Woodmansee, whose parents bought, renovated, and sold homes. With that firsthand knowledge, she fully understood the charms—and quirks—that can accompany historic houses.
Woodmansee, working with Hottenroth + Joseph Architects and Cold Mountain Builders, meticulously renovated the structure to accommodate modern conveniences while striving to retain all of the charm and authenticity of a home built in the early 1800s.
“They fell in love with this little house,” says Woodmansee of her clients, with whom she has collaborated on two previous projects. “They wanted it to stay true to what this farmhouse would have been, and they are all about quality—even down to the weight of the doorknob.”
Because the home clocks in at around 1,600 square feet, to accommodate a family of four, Woodmansee worked to keep the envelope of each of the rooms as simple as possible, without startling shifts from space to space. Case in point: she used only three paint colors—Farrow & Ball’s Wimborne White, Ammonite, and Dimpse—throughout. Also, for consistency, Woodmansee employed the same sheer fabric for most of the window treatments. Because of their secluded location, the clients don’t have to worry about privacy, and they didn’t want to obstruct the views in any way.
Another edited approach was the lighting; two favorite sconces from Cape Cod Lanterns and McLean Lighting Works reappear in several of the spaces. Creating those quiet backdrops shifts the focus to the furnishings and accessories—many one of a kind—that Woodmansee collected while the house was being remodeled.
“I shopped for all of the antiques locally,” she says of her discoveries from the storied coastal community. “I would go for construction meetings and stay for the rest of the day and just drive around to see what I could find. It was fun because I found pieces you don’t see all the time.”
Those unique pieces—and resulting spaces—feel as though they’ve been collected over generations and as if they were always meant to be. Adds Woodmansee: “I love sticking with the charm and personality of these old, quirky places.”