Interiorssneak peeks

Ayumi and Chloe’s Peaceful Home in Maine

by Grace Bonney

When potter Ayumi Horie was looking for a new space, she decided to return to her home state of Maine to settle down. Ayumi wasn’t searching for just a home, but for a property that would also accommodate her studio and kilns. She’d lived in other homes on the East Coast and knew winters could be brutal, so finding something with a studio building close to the home (to prevent long, snowy commutes) was a huge priority. When she saw this house, a brick Greek Revival with a crabapple-lined driveway, she knew she was home. “I’ve lived in many places and knew that this move would be my last — that I’d grow old in this house and would invest in it in more than just a material way,” she explains. And now, along with her fiancée Chloe Beaven and their dog, Clover, Ayumi has worked to not just restore their family’s historic home, but to invest in their home city of Portland, ME in a way that more deeply connects them to their space, community and the history of the town.

“I firmly believe that warm homes come about through years of looking, collecting, and gathering, just like identities take shape over time,” Ayumi says. “Nothing matches because nothing is more boring to me than matching sets. Things ‘match’ because we like them. Every object has a story to tell, whether the story is instilled by the maker or by an anonymous past the object has carried for years.” When asked about the best part of living in an old home, Ayumi says, “You can ask me again when I’m 80, but the rewards of living in an old house are worth it. The wavy way that early morning light is refracted through leaded panes of glass and the groves of massive, old lilacs and crabapples make an indescribable scent around the house when they bloom. We get a little piece of country pie while being able to get into the middle of Portland in 10 minutes.”

Read on to see their full home tour and hear more about the renovations and history of Ayumi and Chloe’s beautiful home. xo, grace


Portrait at Fire Pit
photo by Megan Jones

Guest Room
Chuck DeWolfe- apple
Painting – Ayumi got in Stockholm
Vase- Julie Crosby
Quilt- Dana Michaelsen
Cabinets and Pulls – Peter Floeckher

butter dish on table- Steve Rolf
Blue cage bowls- Sunshine Cobb
Brown jar on left- Jean Nicholas Gerard
White Jar- Michael Connelly
Blue and green jar on fridge- Linda Sikora
Casserole on fridge- Cook on Clay
Hanging Japanese lamp- 1920s Taisho-era antique lamp
Vase- Ayumi

South Bedroom
Yellow tray- Joe Pintz
Rug- Dash and Albert

Guest room:
-Quilt by Dana Michaels
-Blankets on top of the armoire are by the Norwegian company Oleana.

Living room
-Blanket by Oleana
-Knit hippo- Purchased by Ayumi at Sheep in Wool at Rhinebeck years ago
-Cushion on rocking chair by Gina Dambra.
-Porcelain platter- Collaboration between Ayumi and Andy Brayman for a show at Greenwich House pottery called Who Lives In Greenwich Village?
-Painting by Michael X Rose of King Kong and Moby Dick in a tussle in Portland Harbor in 1775 during the Battle of Falmouth. Ayumi commissioned the painting from him- their house is in the righthand part, as are their neighbors to the left and right. Godzilla enters right.

Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
The exterior of Ayumi and Chloe's home. Their home is located in the Stroudwater neighborhood of Portland. The area is unique in Portland because each lot is fairly large and the houses are almost all historic. "We look out the windows and see houses built in 1755, 1783, and 1797, and on Sunday morning, [we] hear church bells. After moving from a wet and shaded house, I wanted a house on a hill with light and wind and a sense of openness. This place is all that and even borders a little river in back," explains Ayumi. Each room of their home has a fireplace and the rooms' yellow, pink, and red walls give the house a glow at night.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Ayumi chose to paint the downstairs yellow, pink, and red as an "antidote" to the home's existing hospital green, khaki, and dark blue walls. "It felt incredibly sedate and cheerless before painting. As a way to unite the yellow and red rooms, I chose this pink, because it felt like a middle ground without being obvious and it was a color that felt risky at the time. Now, that particular pink seems very natural, especially with the warm, dark banister, not to mention that the sheer hopefulness of the color feels like an invitation to go up the stairs, deeper into the house."
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Ayumi and Chloe's bright pink stairwell. Ayumi loves the unique scrollwork along the treads of the stairs. "I've been told that journeymen carpenters had their own signature scrollwork," she says.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Along the stairwell are Japanese prints, one of which depicts fireworks.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Clover takes a nap in the downstairs living room, next to a roaring fire in the pellet stove. The contemporary painting above the pellet stove is by Michael X Rose and depicts King Kong and Moby Dick in a tussle in Portland Harbor in 1775 during the Battle of Falmouth. Ayumi commissioned the painting from him. "Our house is in righthand part, as are my neighbors to the left and right. Godzilla enters right," she explains.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
When dealing with the kitchen renovation, Ayumi knew she, "wanted a modern kitchen with a casual feel that would welcome friends." Along with help from her carpenter, Greg Frangoulis, Ayumi created a modern kitchen that suits her needs but still embraces the bones of the older home. "This new kitchen is where all the action happens," Ayumi explains. "We cook and eat here, read and talk. Because I’m a potter and own so many pots I love, it was crucial to me to have soft counters that wouldn’t crack my ceramics or feel uncomfortable to set a cup down on. There’s nothing worse than the clink of ceramic on stone or tile. I chose stainless steel for the way it forgives a careless motion and for its easy maintenance. The koinobori on the wall is a cotton antique I picked up in Japan at a flea market."
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Leather pulls on the kitchen cabinets reference the shoe-making history of Lewiston/Auburn Maine, where Ayumi grew up. The leather is a reclaimed scrap from the Rancourt show factory in Lewiston where Ayumi salvaged the leather and cut it into strips. The maple and birch cabinets were made by Peter Floecker of North By East Building in Portland. Ayumi and Peter collaborated on the design and proportion of the pulls, because she wanted something soft that would gradually break in, but also be easily replaced if they wore out.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
This hand-planed sideboard was made by Andrew Hunter of Accord, NY. Ayumi got it as a trade for some of her work and he sized the plate rack for her salad and dinner plates. Ayumi made a handful of pots that they use, but the majority have been made by her friends, potters she admires, and some are antiques from travels to Japan and Europe. "Every morning when we choose a cup, we decide which potter friend to have coffee with," she says.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
"This was probably the original formal dining room, but now it functions as Chloe’s study room," Ayumi says. "This mustard color somehow works in all different kinds of light, shifting from a subdued mustard to a more cheerful canary yellow on a sunny morning."
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Connecting the kitchen and the ceramics studio is a 25-foot corridor that was designed to fit a 12-foot bench that came out of meeting house (possibly Shaker). Ayumi explains, "The walk down it to work acts as a mental transition, functioning as both a physical boundary between work and home life and a psychological one."
Ayumi's studio, deep in production mode.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Ayumi's studio was a long and interesting journey through dealing with permits, Historic Preservation and city zoning rules. "After 14 iterations with the architects, the studio plans were approved based on it being modeled after the old New England architectural precedent of big house, little house, back house, barn. The massing of the structures needed to reference the agricultural roots of the neighborhood, blending into the historic fabric that made the neighborhood so appealing in the first place." Pieces of Ironstone, creamware, pearlware, featherware, pipe stems, buttons, and fragments of toy tea sets (pictured here) were all found on the property during the excavation.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Ayumi's disco-ball studio ceiling. "For $100, this cheap thrill was a bargain. It gets turned on at dance parties or if I need a pick-me-up in the studio. For a few weeks out of the year, the sun comes in the south window, hits the ball, and sprays polka dots all over the studio. It’s the best sundial ever as winter solstice approaches."
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
This little Civil War token of a beehive is embedded in what used to be a knot in the bathroom floor, right in front of the toilet.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Ayumi made this vase - “marrying old and new” - because it sums up her family's home and life together.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
The master bedroom contains one of the four fireplaces in the home (although it’s not in use right now). Ayumi bought the tin tree in Butte, Montana years ago. "I have no idea why, but I started collecting vintage squirrel and strawberry ornaments for it years ago" she says.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
This cypress-wood Japanese tansu was a workshop chest Ayumi bought in Seattle a long time ago. When the antique store originally bought it, it had tools in it. Ayumi has used it as a filing cabinet and a kitchen cabinet, though right now she uses it as a wardrobe.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
The guest room: This spare room is the first to receive sunlight in the morning and gradually gets to be the brightest room in the house. Ayumi says the shallow closets are evidence of "limited 19th century wardrobes." The view looks down toward the Fore River, the neighborhood church, and a big old apple tree. Church bells can be heard on Sunday mornings.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
The guest room, facing northeast.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Ayumi and Chloe's four-year-old Boston Terrier, Clover, lives life to the fullest, enjoying muddy terrain in warm weather and relaxing in front of the fire in the winter.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
A criss-cross configuration of outdoor lights creates a magical space outside for dinner parties in front of the studio at night. "The whole house is great for both big dance parties and for more intimate meals with close friends. I chose to sneak in a few red and yellow bulbs into the majority of white bulbs because it warms up the temperature of the light, making it more festive and like candlelight," Ayumi says.
Ayumi and Chloe's Maine Home, Design*Sponge
Ayumi, Chloe and Clover take in a summer bonfire. "The land slopes down to the river where a huge weeping willow tips over the water. In the summer we swim in it and in the winter our neighbor across the river rallies the neighbors to clear the ice for skaters." Chloe and Ayumi love using their firepit for s'mores, but Clover prefers stick-throwing to the marshmallow roasting.

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  • This made me smile! I love the way the new and historic details are blended together. This place looks so warm and inviting, especially in that nighttime photo where the windows glow. Such a creative space!

  • Beautiful! I would love to know the paint colors, namely the yellow and the pink.

    • They’re all Behr paints and the yellow is Solar Fusion, the pink is Old Fashioned Pink, and the red is the best one- Indiscreet :)

  • What a beautiful home. The paint colors are genius! Aaah, to find the home in which you will grow old….. these owners are blessed. :)

  • What a fantastic home! Thank you for sharing. And Clover is just adorable (I have a weakness for BTs and loved and miss my BT Violet).

    • Aw, Violet, that’s a great name. Clover’s kind of the star of my Instagram feed, or at least I think she is :)

  • Oh my goodness, what a lovely home! I am just about obsessed with all of their decorating – especially the pink hallway and the kitchen!

  • What a great house. I love your use of colour and your kitchen is just perfect.

  • Oh my gosh! Looking through those pictures has really made me look forward to having my own home! Its beautiful. Great post, will definitely be looking back at this for ideas when i eventually get a house!

    Rosie xo

  • I love white walls don’t get me wrong but they are not for every space. They can be cold in a cold climate or reflect too much light in a hot climate. I live in a hot climate in a new build with huge windows framing views outside. I started off with white walls which along with hard surfaces ie glass, tile, stone, marble made the light bounce around as there was nothing to absorb the it. Gradually I have have been introducing colour and texture with wallpaper, rugs, art and paint although not quite as boldly as Ayumi and Chloe! I really enjoyed this tour because of the brave use of colour and of course all their lovely bits and pieces.

    • This is the first time I’ve ever painted the walls. I think this kind of saturated color doesn’t work everywhere and I agree about using objects, esp rugs to warm a space up. I also think that using warmer and cooler shades of gray and white work to make a space more dimensional. Thanks for your kind words!

  • Ayumi- your house is beautiful! The colors are fabulous- I love everything about it. So glad to see you so happy!!!

    • You too Alice! The work you’re making is AWESOME!! Hope we cross paths soon.

  • I absolutely adore not only the descriptions and photos of this home, but the descriptions of the neighborhood and the home’s surroundings. Maine is my happy place, and this gives me longing to be there. What a treasure this house is, and they’ve honored it beautifully while making it their own.

    • Thanks Kelsey! I hope that you get to spend more time in your happy place!

  • lovely, lovely home. I can totally see you want to grow old there. I would. Amazing decorating too.

  • One of the most sophisticated uses of fun, playful color I’ve ever seen in a home. There is something very peaceful and optimistic in the way Ayumi sees the world (or at least in how I perceive that she sees the world based on her thoughtful reflections). I always find her instagram uplifting, and her home gave me the same feeling.

  • I’m in awe of the vision and heart and discipline your home represents, Ayumi. It fuses beauty and utility, past and future, in every detail, and speaks to the transcendent power of physical space and objects to comfort, inspire, connect, reward. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m lucky enough to be custodian of some of your work, and when I use it I will think of you and Chloe and Clover celebrating life in your amazing space. Nice to know there are artists like you in the world. All happiness to you in your forever home.

  • I love the analogy of homes and personalities being built over time. So true! Thank you for sharing your beautiful home.

  • How exciting to see a local Portland home on here! Such gorgeous interiors and details – thank you for sharing!

  • What a fantastic home! Great post, will definitely be looking back at this for ideas when i eventually get a house! Thank you for sharing.

  • The house and its details look “Federal.” Is there a reason you identified it as “Greek Revival?” Conservative communities often cling to an older design aesthetic even though their time period would place it in a newer one (“Federal” style built in the 1820s to 1850s, the “Greek Revival” period). VERY beautiful, whatever the style.

    • AnneElise

      We used that word because that was the way the home owner identified the house. When I look through my “American Homes” book, there are definitely Greek Revival brick homes that look similar, albeit usually with larger columns and porches.


  • Portland has more than it’s fair share of beautiful houses. So lucky to live here!

  • As an avid but introverted reader, I rarely leave comments, but this house and Ayumi’s poetic vision for it just blew me away. Every room is special and perfectly expresses the love that was put into it. The fun colors, textures, and pieces like the coffee cups and disco ball make it a truly welcoming, one-of-a-kind home.

  • One of my favourite DS houses ever! This home radiates warmth and love – hope you enjoy many happy, creative years together.

  • What a beautiful house, so full of color and light. I really love the red table in the kitchen and am wondering what kind of color/finish is on the top?
    Thank you for sharing this lovely home.

  • I’m another devoted reader who rarely comments. I just had to this time. Favorite home tour ever! This home has so much cheer and personality and says so much about its owners. I get the sense it will bring happiness to many people for many years. Really inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

  • Such a beautiful house, the colours are amazing. How good does the pink, yellow and red look together. Really enjoyed this article!

  • Looking around the Internet at so many decor photos, I was thirsty for color and drowning in a salty sea of greige. You came along and saved me.

    Blessings on your home.

  • Hooray for all the kilims throughout the house! I love seeing bright stripes mixed with more tribal motifs. Really gorgeous complement to all the wonderful textures and collectibles in every room.