Maine

07.25.2012 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Maine Vacation Houses

We’re in Maine.  Anyone who has read designtripper for any amount of time knows this is my favorite place in the entire world. Because of that, people are constantly asking for recommendations for houses to rent. We stay in the same farmhouse or beach house on Morse Mountain Conservation every year, but there’s a pretty long list of fellow admirers who come year after year, and it fills up quickly. Because I love lobster and oysters and sand dollars and craggy rock beaches and the salt air, I have been slowly building a collection of like-minded, rustic vacation houses for all of you who have asked–so politely, so regularly. It’s the absolute best place to gather friends and family for a week–or more, if you’re lucky–in the summer. Stay on the coast. And not in a tourist town, please, unless that’s your thing. It’s quiet and heart-stoppingly beautiful, and more often than not, the evergreen trees come right up to the beach. The water is freezing, so you have to be tough. Go in past your ankles, brave soldier. You’ll feel like a million bucks. At night, build a fire. God bless the Maine weather, it’s that chilly in the middle of summer. Spend hours on screened-in porches, sitting in wicker furniture with your feet slung over the armrests, talking and reading. It’s probably the kind of house that carries its history in its bookshelves; mine them for possibility.  Listen to the waves crash against rocks, and sleep. Mark my words: you will be back every year, too.

>>This 1900s bunk house is in Deer Isle with views of Penobscot Bay and all the islands, plus more than 40 acres of woods.

>>A little lighthouse keeper’s cottage on the Isle Au Haut. Super cute with a rugged-rock perch and views to knock you out.

>>I love Vinalhaven, and I love the floral wallpaper in this historic island farmhouse on 38 acres.

>>Another beyond-charming Vinalhaven spread, this one particularly amazing for kids (old barn has table tennis and tons of space for games). And, sigh, I am a sucker for working old-fashioned stoves.

 


 

The sponsor of this post, HomeAway, offers the world’s largest selection of vacation home rentals, which provide you with more room to relax and more privacy than a hotel (and most times, for less money).

08.10.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Stay: The Marston House

Wiscasset, Maine

While I was on vacation in Maine a week and a half ago, I got an email from Justine from designskool, who wanted to know if I knew about the Marston House, which I didn’t. And by the stroke of kismet, it is also in Maine, and I was staying only about 25 minutes away from the sweet little town of Wiscasset, where the Marston House sits on a just-removed corner from the center of the village–all its streets lined with antique shops and every view over the harbor a postcard. When I stopped by that very same afternoon, the lovely owner, Sharon, was arranging fabric behind the counter of the shop, which sells a rustic, utilitarian and totally romantic array of culinary and garden antiques and housewares–brooms, stools, tools, metal pitchers, sheers, leather satchels, cracked cutting boards, waxed linen string, antique linen grain sacks and antique ribbon.

If I didn’t have kids waiting outside for me with melting ice cream cones, I could have spent an eternity browsing and buying up all the well-worn goodies she brings back from France, where she lives half the year (maybe you’ve heard rumblings of the harsh Maine winters. I can assure you they’re all true). Sharon gave me a tour of the two-bedroom b&b, tucked into a carriage house across a wide expanse of garden out back. She and her architect husband renovated and decorated the place with a straightforward simplicity, adding thoughtful details like an antique vase full of fresh flowers from her wild cutting garden. They’ve been hosting guests for more than 20 years, and it still looks every bit a charmer.

The Details
Each room sleeps two in a queen bed, and if you’re traveling as a family with kids, you can scoop up both rooms, which have an adjoining door between the two for an instant suite-like effect. $110 per night, per room. Breakfast is served in your room, or in the beautiful gardens outside. They also offer a three-bedroom cottage house a block away, and it’s decorated in the same simple, rustic fashion but with the added benefit of a kitchen and living space. Book your stay at marstonhouse.com.

 

08.05.2011 | by: Meghan

Scenes from a Maine Vacation

Photos, from top: shells and sand dollars collected from our beach and tidal pools; a boat-building shop in downtown Bath (home of the first ship built in Maine–by some hardy English settlers–in 1607); ropes and buoys for lobster traps; the lobster tanks at our favorite seafood shop, Gilmore’s; all the yummy local food we get at the Bath Farmer’s market; sunset at the Kennebec River.

08.03.2011 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Ocean Bluff House

Midcoast Maine

Last year we stayed in the 1800s Farmhouse, and despite our magical experience there, this year we decided to try the Grandparents’ house, perfectly situated on a stone bluff overlooking the most beautiful stretch of sand beach I’ve ever seen. The evergreen trees come right up to the natural grass and granite border.

The extended family has owned a number of homes on the property for five generations and counting. And I won’t get into all the history here (and there is plenty), but if you rent one of the homes, you can stay up late with a glass of wine pouring over papers, articles and photographs about the history of the homes, the families who have lived here, and the 600 acres of preserved land they have donated to research and protection in order to keep the land as it is. The family appreciates its privacy and has a policy of not seeking out press or attention for their efforts, but one of the grandchildren of the original owner has kindly agreed to let me share the experience of staying there.

And with so much history in these homes, there’s no shortage of stories. You can feel it in the old wooden floorboards worn from walking patterns and the antique furniture that, proven by one black and white photograph resting against the hearth’s mantle, hasn’t changed a bit since the late 1930s. The house is located a half hour from a coastal town where we go to the local farmer’s market to stock up on food for the week. And it takes about 20 minutes on a twisted, bumpy–sometimes broken pavement, sometimes dirt–road just to reach the house from the main road. It’s a beautiful drive we have learned to love. The trees grow like towering giants over the path, and the boys scan the forest for animals. This year, we saw a number of beautiful birds in the meadow as well as a mother deer and her fawn. One afternoon while I was reading on the screened-in porch, I heard a rustling in the woods and looked up to see a spotted doe standing just a few feet away. And on two separate occasions–and to our boys’ absolute delight–we had porcupine visitors to the house, two of which made themselves at home for the evening in a tree that stretched up past the second story wrap-around balcony, where the boys stood guard until it was time for bed.

Most days we spent at the beach–crashing into waves, exploring tidal pools, building intricate sandcastles and fortresses with moats, and collecting shells and sand dollars. At night we made dinner and ate around the extra-long dining table on the porch, before making a fire for those chilly Maine evenings. We didn’t do anything extraordinary while we where there. In fact, it was more about what we didn’t do. The house and all its charming details—down to every last note card tucked into a mirror and dedicated book of bedside poetry—tell the stories of a time before email and cell phones and TVs. Shelves are filled with old Italian ceramics and books and board games, and if you let yourself fall into the familiar patterns of those that came before you, you can almost imagine what it must have been like to live there. And for me, that’s what a vacation is all about. We were, for an entire glorious week, transported.

The Details
Unlike so many anonymous rental transactions these days, these owners actually like to speak with potential guests on the phone first. They want to make sure you understand and appreciate certain things about the property: an antique stove, for instance, in the farmhouse; no coffee shops or commercial strips within walking distance; that it’s a natural, preserved beach, which means no frisbees or beach balls or loud music. There are still a few openings for next year in June and early fall, so if you’re interested, you can email susan@midcoast.com with inquiries.

07.18.2011 | by: Meghan
Foodtripper

Eat: Saltwater Farm

Lincolnville, Maine


I’ve looked at Saltwater Farm’s website so often, I feel like I’ve been there already. But I just recently stumbled across a post about their big summer foodie extravaganza on jauntsetter and was re-inspired. Not only is this place a farm overlooking the coast of Maine–with some of the coolest cooking classes out there–but they also round up a few chefs from Brooklyn every summer to do The Maine Event, at which they make cheese, forage for mushrooms, bake pies, and learn to preserve the bounty of summer. They also slaughter and butcher a chicken. While the timing isn’t quite right, I can’t stop thinking about trying to shoehorn one of their cobbler, buckle and grunts class into my trip to Maine next week. There are so many reasons to visit this beautiful state, but just in case you need one more, Saltwater Farm is as good of one as any.

I really love how thoughtfully designed the entire experience is. From their site, verbatim:
The space is designed around the concept of a summer kitchen. Native to the North, these kitchens are set away from the house, near the garden. They are a place where vegetables are gathered on tabletops, summer berries are preserved for the fruitless months of winter, loaves of bread are baked and set to rest, fish are filleted and smoked, tomatoes are left to warm in the sun and where a chef is free to cook as he/she pleases, undisturbed.

Classes are taught in a post and beam barn set on the oceanfront, in a farmer’s field. The kitchen is fully equipped with a wood burning brick oven, an open hearth for spit roasting, pastry ovens, a Wolf range top and a variety of specialty equipment such as deep fryers, sausage makers, pasta makers, an ice cream maker and more. An outdoor kitchen provides a wood burning grill, lobster burners and a smoker for meat and fish. A vegetable garden with over 100 seed varieties sits beside the barn, providing stock for the kitchen. A chicken coup beside the barn houses 8 laying hens, meat birds and 4 ducks, providing the kitchen with fresh eggs and meat.

07.29.2010 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Look: Coastal Maine Farmhouse

Maine

Maine Farmhouse exteriorMaine Farmhouse living roomMaine Farmhouse vintage wallpaperMaine Farmhouse table decorMaine Farmhouse antique chairsMaine Farmhouse bookshelfMaine Farmhouse antique bottle collectionMaine Farmhouse attic

We stayed in this 1877 farmhouse on the coast of Maine a few weeks ago, and the house—an extraordinary, beautiful mess of peeling vintage wallpaper; creaky, paint-splattered wooden floors; cherished antiques, handmade ceramics and dishware collections—became the central experience of our entire trip. Exuding a strong, meaningful sense of place and history, the house and all its charming details—down to every last note card tucked into a mirror and dedicated book of bedside poetry—tell the stories of the past century. I’m keeping this one a secret for now. It feels too personal to share (and I have a conflict of interest—I want to keep going back!). I hope you enjoy the peek inside and can get a sense of what a special place this is—how lived-in and well loved. I can almost hear the sound of the ocean and smell the evergreen trees mixed with fresh salty air.