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Interiorssneak peeks

An Arts & Crafts Home in Maine Full of Old & New Stories

by Erin Austen Abbott

I love a good house story — one that runs deep with history and mixes in the right amount of charm. I also love to learn about the history of a home as much as I like to see the house in present form. A few years ago, an older man showed up at my door and wanted to tell me all about growing up in my house. He shared stories about him and his brother as young children, where the family phone hung in the kitchen, and where they put their Christmas tree each year. Many of the little quirks of my 1890 home were revealed.

Ben Ray and Ali Malone have a similar story. After moving around the country, these Portland, ME natives wanted to get back to the community they grew up in and raise a family there. When asked what drew them back to their hometown, Ben shares, “Portland is the perfect ‘little city’ of roughly 70,000 people. It’s a community where you walk down the street and people smile and say ‘hello’ to you; it’s a community that supports the arts, cultivates creative types and small businesses, has award-winning restaurants (but is still super laid-back!) and still has some salty bars — and yes, salty people too. It is the place where we intend to grow old together.” When they first returned to Portland, the couple began renovating commercial spaces and homes, paying homage to each space’s architecture as well as their ability to shift styles to fit each building.

When Ali, a real estate broker and developer, was eight months pregnant, they found their 1904 Arts and Crafts style home. Built by famed architects John Calvin Stevens and John Howard Stevens for the Stevens family, it was then added onto in 1914. “We were drawn to the fact that JHS had designed this house to use personally (it was the first house he designed as a partner at the firm). He started his family in the house and you can feel that in the space. It has a casualness and practicality that spoke to us — it felt modern for the era,” Ben says. As a young girl, Ali used to play in that same house, as it was later home to one of her classmates. “Ali spent quite a bit of time in this house as a child. One of her good friends in elementary school lived in the house decades ago. She had memories of playing in the room that now belongs to our son, Atticus… Reentering the house as potential buyers nearly three decades later was totally surreal for her.”

Ben runs his growing company Evangeline Linens from an office on the second floor of their house. Since he and Ali are both able to work from home, the mornings are spent at a slower pace, savoring the morning light in their living room with their two children, and spending time as a family, often with impromptu dance parties. In a home rich with art and modern furniture, each decorative item lends well to the space while also adding to the existing charm. Ben leaves us with this piece of decorating advice, “Layer in pieces over time. Buy things that you love and not what you are ‘supposed’ to love. Edit and remove stuff periodically. And buy lots of art!” Scroll below for the full home tour. —Erin

Photography by Erin Little / @erinlittlephoto

Image above: “The painting above the fireplace (painted on the actual mantel, not a hanging painting) was done by the original owner/architect’s father, John Calvin Stevens (a nationally renowned architect). The small paintings sitting on the mantel are by Michel Droge. Vintage owl andirons (with glass eyes) were found at a flea market in Midcoast Maine,” Ben shares. 

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Ben, Alessandra (Ali), Harlow (age 2), and Atticus (age 5) in their living room. Now, as the couple raises their two children here, they continue to add to the history of the home. “There is a closet on the second floor that has pencil markings with all the names/heights of the kids and grownups that have lived in the house (dating back to the early 1900s). The kids would even note on the wall if the measurements were made with bare feet or with socks or boots on… it feels very personal and is a fun slice of history,” Ben says. The painting is by Rob Sullivan.

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“Open ‘modern-for-the-era’ dining and living area works well with our lifestyle,” Ben shares. “We spend tons of family time in this space, listening to records, having cozy fires and reading the paper in the morning (no TV in this space!).”

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“The painting above the fireplace (painted on the actual mantel, not a hanging painting) was done by the original owner/architect’s father, John Calvin Stevens (a nationally renowned architect). The small paintings sitting on the mantel are by Michel Droge,” Ben notes.

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A mix of vintage pieces sits atop the Milo Baughman credenza. It features birds eye maple, cool lucite legs and a stone top. A vintage Harman/Kardon T60 turntable, Vintage Sony stereo (1970s) and Dynaco receiver give the family a place to create impromptu dance parties. Lamps are from a local salvaged furniture store called Mardens.

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The artworks above the chair are by George Lloyd.

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With a love for vintage chairs, the family’s collection continues with a Womb Chair by Knoll.

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This entryway and staircase are original to the home.

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The large painting in the corner is by Will Barnet. A vintage sewing table base with found marble top sits under the window. Wagner style chairs give the family an extra spot to play or for the children to put on shoes before running outside.
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George Nakashima dining table serves as a focal point in the living / dining room. The leather and chrome chairs by Mart Stam and the George Nelson Bubble Lamp complete the look. Large-scale paintings by Timothy Wilson hug the doorway. The rug underneath is by Angela Adams.

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The Timothy Wilson painting works perfectly under the original, unpainted trim.

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“The Vintage ‘Lost Word’ 1977 pinball machine by Bally was passed down from Ali’s grandfather. Colorful art by Joshua Yurges hangs in the corner. More from my chair collection with the Eames Lounge Chair, and the Skull Pillow is by Evangeline Linens,” Ben says.

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The den is a spot where the family can all pile onto the large sofa and be together to read or watch a movie. Throws from Ben’s line, Evangeline Linens, are at-the-ready for those chilly Maine nights. The large abstract print above the sofa is by Paule Marrot.

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The large windows fill the den with natural light year-round.

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Atticus’ room is filled with pops of color and lots of whimsy. The painting above the dresser is by Anne Buckwalter.

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Areaware pillows, along with big velvet ones from Decor 55, add charm to Atticus’ room. The blanket is also by Evangeline Linens.

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In the style of Charles and Ray Eames, a small table in Atticus’ room gives him a surface to create and build. The painting above is by Anne Buckwalter.

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Ben’s office is in a small room upstairs. He works from home, behind a Paul McCobb desk. The desk chair was designed by Lawrence Peabody. Side chair is “Cord Chair” by Jacques Guillon and the painting by Lucas Ouellette.

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The main bedroom is simple in design and feels uncluttered, with swaths of muted color throughout.

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The bed is framed nicely under a large-scale piece of art, with the salmon colored velvet pillows contrasting well.

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Another look at the main bedroom, with a door leading to the main redesigned bathroom. The bedding is classic in style, but with a completely new spin.

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Vintage finds complete the dresser look.

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A small sitting area rounds out the main bedroom, with a cozy chair and warm throw.

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With music being such a large part of the family’s lives, it’s no wonder that dancing and music are part of their favorite things in their home.

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The original floor plan of the first owner and architect of the home, John Howard Stevens.

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Comments

  • Love seeing a home here in Portland – the owners featured here are right, it is such an amazing small city (everything you want from a big city, with all of the charm and friendliness of a small town) and a great place to raise kids! They’ve made a beautiful home with a striking mix of modern and original details.

  • This is one of the most beautiful homes I’ve seen. I love that so much of the original is there and it shows that the current owners have made a comfortable and loving home. Side note: I wish someone would knock on my door and tell me about the history of it. I’ve been poring over old city phonebooks, haha.

  • Everything about this home is beautiful! So completely classy. The decor, linens, furniture — everything. Oh, and those red shoes! Would have loved to see the kitchen also.

  • Let’s talk about the disco ball!!!! And I’m swooning over that blanket and throw on the master bed.

  • I keep going through this, obsessed with how they have used such unique rugs to seperate the spaces – yet have done it so effectively.

  • I’m in love with the black leather armchair in the fireplace shot. it’s so unusual. Anyone know what such a chair is called? I’d love to find one (I live in Australia).

    • I think you could Google – “Corner Leather Chair” or “Corner Chesterfield Chair” and find something similar.

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