A Midcentury Maine Home Where Scandinavia Meets Palm Springs
This recently renovated home in Portland, Maine, really is the way life should be.
Published Jun 23, 2017 7:15 AM
When you think of Maine homes, quintessential New England abodes spring to mind: white clapboard cottages with rosa rugosa out front or shingle style Cape Cods. But for Andrew and Briana Volk, they only had eyes for midcentury designs, which are rare in the region.
After looking at available homes on the market, nothing felt right to the couple, owners of the Portland craft cocktail bar Portland Hunt + Alpine Club. Finally, a foreclosure that had been on the market for over two years dropped within their price range. The architect behind the home, son of prolific Maine architect John Calvin Stevens, designed midcentury styles—the complete opposite of the shingled Federals made famous by his father.
“I walked in to look at it, stood in the living room, and out these big windows over a built-in bookcase and decided right then we were buying the house,” says Briana. Although the house was something they described as a mishmash of decades and wall-to-wall carpeting throughout (including the kitchen), they saw that the bones were good—really good.
“It was a great layout, but clearly hadn’t been updated since the ‘70s,” says Briana. “We even found mushrooms growing in one of the bedrooms.” The couple hired a contractor friend, and in went new floors, windows, electrical, heating, and walls—a total gut job on the first floor. But within five months, the remodel was complete.
Briana’s Finnish roots are evident throughout the home with its inspired approach to Scandinavian design. “We wanted it to be Scandinavia meets Palm Springs,” she says. “Winters are so long and brutal, and I am a warm weather person. Even during the winter, I wanted to create the simplicity and warmth and energy you can find in a midcentury home.”
The couple is no stranger to great design: Briana was the design brains behind their restaurant, Hunt + Alpine, as well as their neighborhood deli, Little Giant. Bringing her sensibilities to her own home was a natural fit.
In the living area, the approach was to keep the space bright and open. The existing brick fireplace was updated with
and is a cozy spot for family and guests to curl around on cold nights. The original built-in bookcase was one of the few things they kept in the house. It corrals their growing collection of cookbooks, records, and children’s books. “And every guest fights over who gets to sit in the Eames lounger,” she says.
The dining area is a walk-through space that connects the kitchen and living room.
Briana scored this shelf unit while trolling her local Craigslist listings; they keep it well-stocked with liquor, recipes, and bar tools. (Check out one of the couple’s favorite at-home cocktail recipes, below.) “I also use it to display pieces I really love on there: Aalto vases, nice linens, and my Tolkka bird,” she says.
In the kitchen, Scandinavian simplicity reigns. The original layout had a 1960s fridge almost in the center of the room, so the new long perimeter of Cambria quartz counters and custom cherry cabinets was a much-needed upgrade.
Open shelves keep the couple’s everyday favorites close at hand.
Upstairs, a George Nelson Cigar Pendant hangs from the second floor stairwell. The family keeps agallery wall
of personal favorites here. A photo of a NASCAR track taken by a photographer friend and a digital snap from their wedding at town hall are among some of the highlights.
The couple and their two children love to lounge in bed together in the master bedroom. Above the bed hangs a piece by Brianna’s mother, artist Bee Bononcini. But the most beloved thing in the room is the linen bedding from Hawkins New York. “They are my most favorite thing I’ve ever bought,” she says.
A vintage midcentury dresser was a piece her parents’ neighbors were getting rid of years ago, and it’s been a favorite piece since.
The sitting area is outfitted with a couple of vintage tables from a flea market and a chair and lamp from BluDot—making it a great spot for bedtime reading with their kids.
When the couple first moved in, their daughter Oona was 10 months old and about to have her first room. “She picked the purple for her bookshelf color,” says Brianna. It’s one of the family’s favorite rooms in the house with great windows that let in a lot of light and overlook the yard.
Brianna relied on Swedish design with an assortment of furnishings from Ikea. “I love Ikea stuff for kids because when she outgrows it, it won’t be hard to part with,” she says.
Now that it’s prime season in vacationland, Andrew and Brianna are enjoying time on their 400-square-foot deck that Andrew and a friend built. It’s her favorite place to pull up an Eames chair and have coffee in the morning. And cocktails at night, of course.
A Price Above Rubies Cocktail Recipe from Hunt + Alpine
1 oz. Four Roses Bourbon
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. Montenegro
Bubbles aka Champagne or Prosecco
Garnish: lemon peel
Shake everything (but the bubbles) together in a shaker tin with ice. Fine strain into a Champagne flute (or your glass of choice). Top with bubbles.