Home Again in Cape Neddick

Ship Light Pendants Hanging From Coffered Ceiling
In the kitchen, ship light pendants hang from the elegant coffered ceiling, an artful addition that extends into the living room.

A summer house in Maine evokes childhood memories with a relaxed style and soothing palette

For a homeowner who grew up summering in York, Maine, this Cape Neddick summer home brings back memories. “I’ve been coming to York my whole life,” she says, recalling her stays at her grandmother’s summer cottage near Long Sands beach, swimming in the ocean, and combing the shore for beach glass.

She and her husband, whose permanent residence is in Massachusetts, own lake houses in Maine, but it was the beach, specifically York beaches, she missed. “For our 25th anniversary, my husband asked, ‘What do you want?’ And I said, ‘A beach house.’” She got her wish.

In 2016, the couple bought a 4,761-square-foot contemporary Colonial-style house built in 2015. The five-bedroom, four-bath residence set on 1.3 acres became a summer getaway for themselves and their now 19-year-old twin daughters. Recently, the couple collaborated with interior designer Anne Cowenhoven of Accent & Design Inc. in York to refresh some of their favorite spaces.

Sea glass-like tile in Cape Neddick summer home kitchen
Sea glass–like tile in the kitchen inspired the choice of color in paints and fabrics, tones that remind designer Anne Cowenhoven of opalescent seashells.

The homeowner’s wish was to incorporate nautical elements without going overboard.

“I want it to feel like a beach house,” she says, “but not everything has to have a seahorse on it.”

Cowenhoven responded by infusing her design with shades of seafoam, sand, teal, and pebble gray to recall the sea and shore in a natural way. “I thought of coastal fog and that kind of color palette, which isn’t quite bright blue,” she says. “I kept trying to play back and forth between the walls and the various fabrics, that sandy beach tone and the inside of shells.” Think the blue-gray tone of a mussel shell.

White cabinetry, marble countertops, and stainless steel appliances in Maine beach house
The kitchen and dining area provide plentiful counter space for food preparation and seating for entertaining. White cabinetry, marble countertops, and stainless steel appliances keep things looking sleek.

The mood is set from the moment one enters the house. In the foyer, a bench painted seafoam green is a bright contrast to the muted blue-gray walls, a shade Cowenhoven describes as the color of wet beach stones. A whirlpool-patterned rug from Momeni anchors the space.

“When I walk in, I just feel relaxed and calm,” says the owner.

Colors of the sea and shore run throughout the house like a current. In the kitchen, the existing mirror tile and ship’s light pendants paired well with the teal blue on the stools Cowenhoven chose for the kitchen island. The farmhouse sink looks sleekly updated in stainless steel, complemented by the JennAir gas range. In the dining area, an L-shaped banquette is covered in fabric that carries over the teal and slate tones and holds a selection of beach-themed pillows found by the owner.

Wing chairs in front of fieldstone fireplace in cozy Maine summer home
In the living room, wing chairs make a cozy spot by the fieldstone fireplace.

More than just a facelift, the update included adding coffered ceilings in the living room, dining room, and kitchen, to add visual interest as well as recessed lighting and fans.

The owner calls her style informal and unfussy, and Cowenhoven worked to evoke a refined yet relaxed vibe. “They’re casual people,” says Cowenhoven. “They like to have their feet up.”

The furniture is classic contemporary, the fabrics durable, often indoor/outdoor, befitting the needs of a summer home, where the foot traffic often has sand on its soles.

Cape Neddick, ME Beach house sunroom with bight light coming through unadorned windows
In the sunroom, unadorned windows let in copious light, while the floral carpet and pillows pull the outdoors in.

A favorite spot of the homeowner is the light-drenched four-season sunroom. Here, Cowenhoven chose pieces from the outdoor line at Pierce Furniture in Scarborough, Maine. The homeowners opted to leave the windows on the first floor uncovered to allow as much natural light and sea views as possible.

Special collections, such as the blue hobnail glass the owner inherited from her late mother-in-law, are complemented by the ocean hues Cowenhoven chose for the sitting area by the kitchen. Club chairs in sand and surf windowpane fabric are cousins of the chairs by the living room hearth, which sport fabric in the reverse color pattern.

The master suite is a comfy retreat with a pair of armchairs sharing an ottoman in front of the marble fireplace. “It’s a place to relax, a private place to be together,” says Cowenhoven.

Outside, the couple added some whimsy with cutwork sea creatures on the shingled exterior, a playful reminder that the beach is not far away. Just beyond the trees lies the rocky coast, where the Atlantic sparkles and Nubble Lighthouse stands sentinel in the distance. “At night, I like to sleep with the windows open,” says the owner. “You can hear the waves crashing just across the street.”

Project Credits:

Produced by: Marsha Jusczak

© 2020 Coastal Design.