This Zen Maine Home Effortlessly Marries Wabi-Sabi and Scandinavian Design
Definitely not a white box.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:04 AM
If the streets of Stockholm and the southern coast of Japan suddenly collided, they’d meet right in the middle of this Portland, Maine, home. For local designer Heidi Lachapelle, the idea to blend Scandinavian simplicity and wabi-sabi design began in the bathroom. “Our clients definitely brought it to the table,” says Lachapelle who, alongside her partner, Katie Judkins, transformed their clients’ new waterfront condo into a zen getaway. “It was all sparked by the traditional teak soaking tub.”
The pair translated the aesthetic to the living room, entryway, and kitchen, setting the tone with Farrow & Ball’s Card Room Green on the cabinets—a shade that conveniently doubles as a stress reliever. “I think it’s a really unexpected color palette, but it works so beautifully because we found a way to ground everything in neutrals,” adds Lachapelle.
Ahead, the designer shares with us her takeaways on the space and how to cultivate calm at home.
Identify a Base Wood
Incorporating natural materials in a cohesive and elevated way was step one for Lachapelle. “It really embodies that wabi-sabi aesthetic, where you’re just letting things be perfectly imperfect,” she says. With the exception of the oak counter stools and walnut dining table, the designer narrowed her choices down to two types of wood: ash and teak. “We knew that there was going to be all this wood interacting in a small space, so we wanted to be really thoughtful about how much we were mixing,” she continues. Lachapelle landed on ash as her base wood, embracing it on a larger scale with pieces like Kalon Studios’s Trunk table and floating kitchen shelves.
The English walnut dining table, while not ash, complemented the lighter tones of the primary wood, while the teak bar cabinet in the living room acted as a subtle reference to the master bath–surround upstairs. “I knew that every piece of furniture in here had to drive home the aesthetic or it wasn’t going to work,” she says.
Color-Match Your Walls to Your Favorite Objects
The clients’ extensive ceramics collection was a natural point of departure for Lachapelle, who based the kitchen and living room palette on the dishware. “We were deciding between two colors. One was a deep forest green and the other was this light green,” she shares. The treasured mugs were the deciding factor: “The clients ended up selecting the latter because the lighter color paired so nicely with the ceramics.” Lachapelle gave the natural hue an edge with matte black accents, including Half Moon pulls from Park Studio and Coco Flip’s ash and aluminum pendants.
Decorate With Counteractive Colors and Textures
When mixed together on a painter’s palette, orange and green neutralize one another. But when used thoughtfully in an open-floor-plan living room, the hues work in perfect harmony. “We wanted to have these two really unique pops of color mirroring each other in the same room, but at the same time feel really distinct so that the spaces felt defined,” explains Lachapelle. Like Farrow & Ball’s Card Room Green, the orange linen fabric used for the Pop and Scott sofa operates as a neutral.
Going beyond cool color pairings, Lachapelle injected texture into the home by adding limewash walls to the bathroom, taking the kitchen backsplash tile up to the ceiling, and opting for a grass-cloth accent wall in the living room.
Invest in Custom Solutions When You’re Tight on Space
With two little ones in tow, Lachapelle’s clients had to find clever ways to hide their gear without disrupting the home’s overall flow. The open floor plan posed a challenge. “We had to sort of create these spaces out of things that weren’t necessarily defined,” says the designer.
Example A: the entryway. Because mudrooms are an essential part of Maine living, Lachapelle designated a drop zone for boots and hats with a system of pegs and a storage bench. Likewise, the second-floor built-in sectional has bonus drawers for toys. “I think the custom pieces in this house really go a long way,” she adds.
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