before & after: a maine lakehouse makeover
a family lake house gets an upbeat redo.
Published Sep 28, 2016 5:00 AM
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text by CARA GIBBS photography by JAMIE SOLOMON
Nylon Consulting’s Laura Bindloss goes Maine-stream when restoring her historic vacation home in Standish, Maine
For most, vacation homes are an escape from the everyday grind, but for PR maven Laura Bindloss of Nylon Consulting and her husband Simon, their home-away-from-home proved to be a true labor of love. Recently, the couple purchased this historic lake-front property from Laura’s family, and without hesitation the couple transformed the once-dated cottage into an artfully curated, modern retreat perfect for spontaneous getaways. (And, get this, they did most of the work themselves!) Now these (handy) Brooklynites flock to the tiny town of Standish, Maine as often as possible, and we’ve been lucky enough to hitch a ride and snag a peek into their newly refreshed oasis. It definitely inspired our inner DIY-er and we hope it does the same for you.
FIRST, TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY’S HISTORY WITH MAINE AND THIS HOUSE SPECIFICALLY? My father and his entire family are originally from Maine as far back as the Mayflower. And, though my father was born there, he and my grandmother left when he was seventeen, eventually settling on the other side of the country in Seattle. All the while, this house has been in my family for over 50 years! It’s changed family hands a few times, owned by everyone from my great grandparents and my grandmother to my parents and now me.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE MAINE LIFESTYLE THAT MADE YOU WANT TO INVEST IN THIS HOME? I truly believe both a piece of my grandmother and my father’s soul are in this house. They often referred to this house as their happy place. My grandmother would live here for six months of the year and spend the summer hosting not just my brothers and I, but her many friends popping up from different periods of her life. My father used to come out here to visit his family, switching off for a week and just enjoying life. My husband and I got engaged at this house with my father four summers ago—So, I think it’s safe to say, it’s a pretty special to us too.
HOW DO YOU USE YOUR NEW VACATION HOME? Our new home is one of two extremes: Either just my husband and I (and our dog) for the whole weekend, laying very low and spending time with just each other. Or we’re being extremely social with a house full of friends from New York, Seattle, Los Angeles or San Francisco and we spend the whole weekend grilling, swimming and exploring the area
WHAT WAS YOUR INTENTION WHEN TAKING OVER THIS PROJECT? DID YOU REALIZE IT WAS GOING TO BE A RENOVATION FROM THE BEGINNING? This house was in amazing condition structurally. My grandmother put a lot of time and effort into maintaining the house, but decor was not her main focus. She would much rather build an upstairs deck than buy a new sofa. Our intention was to make the house feel like ours. Because the house has been in the family for so long, we wanted to bring it into the next generation with lots of updates, not only through décor, but also modernizing the flow and floorplan.
WHAT WAS A DESIGN RISK YOU TOOK DURING THE PROJECT? We decided to make the storage ottoman we wanted in the living room ourselves. (This idea was actually inspired by a house we saw in Domino!) Everything we loved was just too expensive. My husband was confident if we paid a carpenter to make the box we could upholster it with the foam and some adhesive spray (insert not convinced expression). It definitely took us awhile to complete, but it turned out beautifully and is in one of my favorite fabrics from Ferrick Mason.
WHERE DO YOU SPEND THE MOST TIME IN THE HOME? Depending on the weather, the deck or the dining/living room area. We have lots of books and magazines to read (hazard of the job!), so we got an especially large dining table (it seats 10!) so we could entertain when our friends came up, and that table is always a common hang out spot too.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE AND AESTHETIC OF THE PROJECT? DOES IT DIFFER FROM YOUR NY HOME? Overall it has the traditional color palette of a New England seaside home: whites, blues with some Narragansett Green thrown in for good measure, but with fun pops of color and pattern to liven it up. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Our New York home is definitely more ‘serious.’ We have less whimsical pattern and more artwork mainly because the rooms in our New York apartment are smaller. It’s also less seasonal, so I experimented with painting the walls richer colors, but for this home we wanted the walls to feel light and nautical (apart from our bedroom).
WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS LIKE WHEN PLOTTING OUT EACH SPACE? Simon and I went room by room, discussing each space in detail and dreaming about what we would change if budget were a nonissue. Next step was, bringing in contractors to price out our wish-list (basically bringing us back to reality) and then we worked backwards from there—prioritizing what we could afford and what we could do ourselves versus projects we definitely wanted to outsource; things like plumbing, electricity, ripping up floors and raising a ceiling. We then got to work! Our vision for the house was clean and calming, but playful. It’s a summer home after all and one that should have fun touches that we maybe we wouldn’t put in our New York apartment.BEFORE
WHAT WAS YOUR GOAL FOR THIS PROJECT AND THE HOME IN GENERAL? To make a house that felt like ours, that had updated amenities of today’s world (bigger hot water tank, a ceramic quick heat stove, smart locks) and to create a home that felt like it would make my father and grandmother proud.
TELL US ABOUT THE AMAZING BRANDS YOU FILLED YOUR HOME WITH. I am lucky to work with some of the most talented brands and designers on the planet. The house is filled with my client’s products: Rugs by London-based designer Luke Irwin, bedding by textile house Evitavonni, furniture from Uhuru Design. De Gournay, the hand-painted wallpaper brand from London—they designed the Met Gala last year (no big deal)—generously let me use their wallpaper in my bedroom. I wanted to play up the neutral paints with pops of color, so we covered an oversized ottoman in fabric from Ferrick Mason and used colorful silk and linen throw pillows by Sasha Bikoff, Alexandra D Foster and Ferrick Mason. We also got a beautiful farmhouse sink and tap from Kohler, and all of the paint is by Benjamin Moore. Barneby Gates is another really fun wallpaper brand from the UK known for their whimsical geometric pattern and we used that in the bathrooms and entryway. Everything else was done on budget: Home Depot and Ikea mixed in with some Crate & Barrel and West Elm. We definitely did the high-low mix to the extreme here.
WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS WHEN RENOVATING THIS HOUSE? After we’d come up for the weekend when the contractors had just been in to do things like build the entire breakfast bar or rip up the floors and paint the kitchen—those were the fun moments. Coming in to see all of the wallpaper. No surprise her, but the de Gournay completely transformed the room and the gold in the paper made it much lighter and brighter.
WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE DIY PROJECTS? It is pretty crazy how fast you can change a room with paint! Many of these rooms were a shade of hot pink with old wallpaper borders, and with just a few coats of paint were completely transformed into a fresh, new space. We also painted a lot of the old pieces of furniture in the house because they were in good condition, but the wrong color; again an instant change and suddenly new life and personalities to these vintage pieces.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED? Manpower and time! Due to only working on weekends, we were working eleven hour days to get as much done as we could and the we’d have to drive back to NY, which is about 6 hours away. We were lucky to have friends that would come up for the weekend and help every now and again, but Simon and I got rid of 80% of the furniture on our own and painted almost every room in that house ourselves.
WHAT’S THE FIRST REACTION YOU HEAR WHEN PEOPLE WALK THROUGH THE DOOR OF THE HOME? If they’ve been there before, the first remark is, “Whoa you guys have completely changed this place.” Otherwise it’s “it’s huge” (New Yorkers) and “it’s so quiet and peaceful” (any other city dwellers). Also, my favorite “when can we eat lobster.”