Introducing our new “The Way We Live” feature, a gesture towards the imperfect, unstaged, lived-in corners of our homes and lives.


Written by Rebecca Falzano
Photography by Erin Little 

For our department debut we talked with jewelry maker and lifelong collector Portia Clark of Portia’s Barn about…


good bones…

Our house in Portland was built between 1869 and 1870. It has lovely bones, great light, an amazing yard and outdoor play space, and a barn. As with all old houses, there is always something we need to be working on. We have a To-Do list with all our immediate repairs and projects, and there is also the To-Don’t list which is helpful to keep track of the dreams, ideas, and less pressing projects to work towards. 


works in progress…

In the downstairs hallway you can see the exposed lathing. We had to open up the wall to replace the knob and tube wiring that was still being used when we bought the house. We took the wallpaper down (three stories of it) in the front hallway that went from the attic to the ground entryway. The chartreuse rug, which I have grown rather fond of, was a perfect match to the wallpaper that came down in the first month and has been a great floor covering that actually acts as a doormat as kids and dogs go upstairs. The walls are still opened up for many reasons, mostly because there were many other more pressing projects, a limited budget, and because we have been able to run other important wires up to the second floor while the walls are open, which has come in handy for computer networks and updated electrical systems. I hung the mirrors and sconces up because I loved the look of the exposed plaster and also knew that it might be a long time before the plaster got fixed, and we needed light and sparkle in the space. 


things that accumulate…

The piles of paper in the upstairs hall are there because I was in the middle of sorting the art collections my boys had brought home from school over several years. 


her weakness for…

I have been collecting since I can remember. I have a weakness for classic shapes and styles that are beautiful, quirky, and slightly unexpected. The barn has allowed me to continue my business of jewelry making while also allowing me to find and sell pieces that make a home feel special and unique. I love connecting cool things with cool people. Having grown up in a dark northern climate in Seattle and living in a dark northern climate in Portland, I have always been drawn towards lamps and great lighting. I also have a weakness for fresh flowers (a weekly splurge during the winter months), which has led to a love of vases. Rugs are also something that add instant warmth and texture to a room. They are so portable and versatile and can easily change the mood and feel of a room.  


beauty in imperfection…

A home is most enjoyed when it is being used and loved. We set up a ping pong table in our dining room because it was an empty space most of the year. I love imperfection. It is beauty, forgiveness, creativity, and strength.


Written by Rebecca Falzano

Artist Jenny Prinn has created a home and studio in Yarmouth much like one of her paintings—rich in color, full of vibrancy, and multi-faceted. The daughter of two antiques dealers, she has layered her space with treasured pieces inherited from family and works of art by artists she admires. From a variety of eras and styles, the items all work together effortlessly to tell a story that is not easily defined or contained. Her collection is the kind that has no rules, that takes risks, and that rewards the eye at every turn. We asked Jenny to share her thoughts on her home and her art.

Artist Jenny Prinn has created a home and studio in Yarmouth much like one of her paintings—rich in color, full of vibrancy, and multi-faceted. The daughter of two antiques dealers, she has layered her space with treasured pieces inherited from family and works of art by artists she admires. From a variety of eras and styles, the items all work together effortlessly to tell a story that is not easily defined or contained. Her collection is the kind that has no rules, that takes risks, and that rewards the eye at every turn. We asked Jenny to share her thoughts on her home and her art.

In the compositions of my spaces I am acutely aware of the importance of rhythm, pacing, pattern, color, and negative space. I am always trying to push the compositions in my artwork and I like to do the same in my spaces.


THE MAINERS: You live in Yarmouth, which has to be one of Maine’s most charming small towns. What year was your home built? And what do you like about it?

JENNY: 1970, the same year that my husband and I were born—a great year for people, not a great year for houses! I can start by telling you what we don't like about it: the low ceilings! (It's a good thing we aren’t really tall.) But I would have to say that my favorite features are the open spaces we created, all the built-ins my husband built, and the screened porch. We basically live on the screened porch from May until almost November. We eat, read, play games, and watch TV out there—even if it means that I put on a down vest and hat.

THE MAINERS: Many artists recall being drawn to art at a very young age—other artists report having a turning point later in life where they changed course entirely to pursue their art. Do you remember when you first heard the call to become an artist?  

JENNY: I really don’t. I just remember always wanting to have a job doing something creative. (I also remember everyone always saying you can't make a living being an artist.) However it was when I turned 40 that I decided that I could do this. It was so cliché—a woman hitting her 40th birthday and deciding that she had nothing to lose, that she would only have herself to blame if she didn’t give it a try. It was a big step for me to think that, one, I had enough talent and two, that I had a perspective or voice that people would appreciate and want to purchase. It was terrifying, but I am so glad that I had that moment of strength and clarity. When I’m second-guessing myself or feeling self-doubt I try to channel that 40-year-old’s guts and determination.

THE MAINERS: How do you think being an artist influences how you see your space?

JENNY: In the compositions of my spaces I am acutely aware of the importance of rhythm, pacing, pattern, color, and negative space. I am always trying to push the compositions in my artwork and I like to do the same in my spaces. For that reason, my spaces constantly evolve and change. I move things around.

THE MAINERS: You have an incredibly vibrant home, much like your artwork. What draws you to color?

JENNY: Honestly, I look at these beautiful all-white or neutral spaces in magazines and online and they're gorgeous and seem so sophisticated, and I think, “I want that.” Yet, it's so difficult for me to keep it neutral! Eventually color will seep into every space. For me, color is a necessity. It's the vehicle that helps me express myself the best. It's like spices for a chef—it's how you add depth and intrigue and personality to a dish. I can't imagine life without it.




Most recently read book: The Goldfinch

Go-to weekend meal: Anything that I don't have to cook and that someone serves to me!

Analog or digital: Reluctantly digital. I hate that there's not something tangible to hold and look at, but it is so convenient.

Describe your style in one word: Multifarious. (The only reason I chose that word is because Webster’s says it’s a synonym for "eclectic". And I hate the word “eclectic” used to describe a style. It seems like such a generic and lazy term!)  

Favorite place to find inspiration: The ocean. In it, on it, beside it—doesn't matter.  

Item you're most comfortable wearing: No question—hands down one of my caftans.

Best local spot to browse antiques: Unfortunately I don't really know anymore; so many of my favorites are now gone. But I do like some of the group shops that are peppered up and down Route 1 here in Maine—they're great for hunting. 

THE MAINERS: Your aesthetic is also very beautifully layered. And somehow, everything works together. How do you know when to stop layering? 

JENNY: Sometimes I don't! I just keep adding items that I love. I have a philosophy (right or wrong) to buy what you love and worry about where it will go later. Oftentimes, I will move an item two or three times over the course of months (and even years!) until it tells me where it belongs. Sometimes it's not obvious from the start.  

THE MAINERS: Clearly your parents being antiques dealers has rubbed off on you. What have you learned from them about collecting?

JENNY: I learned so much from them. I learned to love history in general and to appreciate the provenance of an item. To admire and respect the makers and designers of objects. To recognize design periods—and the “why and how” an object looks like it does. I was exposed to so many different items, time periods, and design styles. My dad was a “picker,” or what they called a “door knocker,” and not only did he love his job, he was really good at it. He was honest and kind and incredibly knowledgeable, which are extremely important if strangers are going to let you into their homes to go through their drawers and attics. Every day he would arrive home with a Suburban full of new treasures, and my parents would go through all the items, big and small. Growing up, my brother and I were a part of this daily event. I learned by osmosis. It's probably why my style is so multifaceted. I love so many styles and periods—it would be impossible for me to choose just one.  


THE MAINERS: What are some of your favorite antiques in your home?

JENNY: I have items that belonged to my parents, my grandparents, and my husband’s great-great-grandparents. I am blessed to have these items in our spaces. For me they are a tangible connection to the past and to who my husband, children, and I are. These items have an almost talisman effect for me. The items that I probably love the most are: the pink slag glass lamp from my grandmother, the Drexel coffee table from my parents, the eagle leg lamp from my husband’s great-great-grandparents, my Poul Jensen Z chair, a painting by Alfred Chadbourn from my parents, the Sewer Art sculpture from my dad, a pair of gorgeous portrait paintings from my parents, and my vintage brass and glass coffee table.

THE MAINERS: Tell me about your favorite pieces of art (by other artists) in your home. What are your most treasured possessions?  

JENNY: Oooooh, this is difficult! A few of my favorite pieces are my Alfred Chadbourn painting—he is one of my all-time faves (and it’s such a bonus that he was from Yarmouth; I was lucky to meet him and see his studio years ago, when I was a teenager), a pair of vintage portraits by G.A. Williams, four original Hilla Rebay pieces, a Sewer Art/folk art sculpture of a man in a hat, an early painting by Heather Day, two drawings by Katy Ann Gilmore, a limited edition screen print with gold leaf by Lisa Hunt, a small blue portrait of a girl, and our vintage velvet Elvis. Other than photos of my parents and my sons’ art, my most treasured possession would probably have to be the pink slag glass lamp from my grandmother. I have loved it since I was a child.

For me, color is a necessity. It’s the vehicle that helps me express myself the best. It’s like spices for a chef—it’s how you add depth and intrigue and personality to a dish.

THE MAINERS: Where does your day start out? Where does it end up?

JENNY: This is such a non-glamorous answer. My day starts with getting my boys ready and driving them to school. It ends with me driving them to and from practices/rehearsals, making dinner, and cleaning up. Clearly, I'm living the dream!

THE MAINERS: It must be convenient at least to work in a studio that is just steps from your kitchen! How does your home studio influence your work?

JENNY: It’s amazing! I can work at any hour of the day—which is often until very late at night. And I can be ready to pick my boys up from school and take them to practices, performances, and games. However, the downside is that I am always available to take my boys to practices, performances, and games! It is hard for me to get a solid, uninterrupted day in the studio, with me being so accessible. But I wouldn't change a thing. It allows me to be both a mother and an artist—which is not easy to balance—so having my studio in my home is paramount. My studio influences my work, only in that it’s my space. I have all that space to myself and I can make as big of a mess as needed. I like that it’s so close and accessible, and that I’m able to come upstairs and just close the door behind me.

THE MAINERS: How old are your boys, and how has being a mother influenced both your art and your home?

JENNY: My boys are 14 and 12.5. This is a good question—I'm not really sure. I guess it has influenced my home in that I want a home filled with lots of character and color so that they gain an appreciation and respect for objects and their history. I want them to know that a home is a way to reflect one’s personality, and that it doesn't have to follow the “rules” or be too serious. As for my work, being a mother definitely influences me in that I try to be brave and to reach for things that I might think are out of my reach. I want my boys to see that I am strong and confident. But it's also great for them to see me when I'm feeling insecure and what I decide to do with that insecurity. I love that they see it's possible to do what you love for a job—but that it takes a lot of work, often times around the clock.

THE MAINERS: What other artists do you admire?

JENNY: This is such a difficult question! There are so many! I honestly admire any artist who is hustling every day and trying to make a go of this as a living. It's not an easy path! I am in awe of people who seem to do it all so seamlessly. And my taste in art is as varied as my taste in home décor. It's all over the map; there's no rhyme or reason to it. I love what I love, and I make no excuses about it. I am typically drawn to abstract work, although I am a huge fan of hyperrealism—it is so fascinating to me and is so not how my brain and personal filter work. I also adore 16th- and 17th-century portraits and still lifes, and I have a weird thing for portraits without a face.  

I learned to love history in general and to appreciate the provenance of an item. To admire and respect the makers and designers of objects. To recognize design periods—and the ‘why and how’ an object looks like it does. I was exposed to so many different items, time periods, and design styles.


THE MAINERS: Do you ever take risks with your décor?

JENNY: Decorating on an incredibly tight budget, using a lot of the furniture we already owned, and following my gut. (Thankfully my husband is usually on board.)

THE MAINERS: When it's time to clear your head, where do you go in your home?

JENNY: Other than my studio, it would be the living room in the winter months, and the screened porch the rest of the year.

THE MAINERS: What keeps you here in Maine?

JENNY: My husband and I both grew up in Yarmouth and we wanted the same experience for our boys. We stay in Maine because of family, its natural beauty, its people, the wholesome environment—and of course, the ocean.  










Written by Rebecca Falzano


If you’ve ever been inside contemporary design showroom Periscope in Rockland, you’ve already gotten a taste of Ariel Hall and Jan Leth’s design aesthetic. Not only do the two share a strong connection to Maine (Ariel grew up on the midcoast and Jan spent time there for many decades before moving up permanently), they also both have robust creative backgrounds. Ariel is an artist, and Jan worked as a global creative director at the advertising firm Ogilvy.

Ariel and Jan founded Periscope to share their love for modern and contemporary design. The shop showcases a hand-picked, evolving selection of housewares, furniture, and lifestyle items from both established brands and emerging designers. 

We recently visited Ariel and Jan (and baby Lola) at their home in Spruce Head. 

I think I’ve always infused my living spaces with a bit of whimsy and pragmatic creativity.

THE MAINERS: Like many creatives, you moved to Maine from New York. What was your journey like? What did you give up to come here and what have you gained?

ARIEL: I felt ready to return to Maine shortly after grad school. I’d been a working artist, and also supporting myself with other jobs, and I looked ahead and just couldn’t quite see how I’d ever afford a quality of life that felt desirable or, frankly, reasonable. I was in my early thirties, knew I wanted a family, and couldn’t imagine doing that in a city with such restricted space. My dad had a bout of cancer and I thought, “Okay, that’s it. I’d like to be in Maine. What am I waiting for?” (My dad’s doing well, by the way.) At first I had it great: I was living in Maine but still working in the city at MoMA, so I was back and forth between the two places a couple times a month. I got the best of both worlds: all the stimulation of the city and all the beauty of Maine. But after two years of this I was a bit tired of the travel and my work at MoMA ended. I really miss the city’s grit, wild creativity, diversity, and my momentum in the art world, but I’m grateful for the natural world here and the ability to spread out more. This feels like a healthier place to be a kid, so I’m happy that Lola is building her sense of the world from this place; we can, and do, round that out by travel to cities and other places. I need a fairly regular dose of urban to feel balanced myself.

JAN: I echo some of that. I miss the diversity, energy, and creativity, for sure, but I do not miss the grind. Here I obviously enjoy being more in touch with nature and feeling a greater sense of community, which one just doesn’t have in a city the size of New York.




Best place to catch the sunset- On a boat in Penobscot Bay!

Favorite tourist trap- McLoon’s Lobster Shack

Best place for a swim- Clark Island Quarry or Beauchamp Point

Favorite gallery- CMCA 

Go-to meal to cook for guests- Scallop ceviche

Favorite place to find inspiration- BDDW (New York)

Thing you love most about where you live- All the space! You don’t get space like this in a city, indoors or out!

THE MAINERS: Space is a huge benefit of living in Maine. You’ve done such a beautiful job curating yours. Your home is a lovely mix of old and new, and yet Periscope is decidedly modern. How do you merge the two styles? 

ARIEL: Well, in many ways it seems like an obvious way to go. When you inherit items, and can be selective about which you hold onto, then the blending of old and new becomes pretty natural.

JAN: My father was an architect, coming from the Danish design world, so he and my mom already had an informed, selective taste. Over the years I’ve whittled my collection down from them to what suits me and fits with other pieces I’ve collected along the way. It’s a constant process of riffing. 

ARIEL: I think we both have an inclination to temper the old with the new. Much of the older pieces are made of dark woods, but midcentury stuff started seeing a surge in lighter woods, and having a mix of the two keeps things balanced. I also really respond to the materiality of things, so texture, which is inherently different with aged than new things, plays a big part in how something feels to me. It’s nice to have smooth and shiny next to dinged and patina-ed. 


THE MAINERS: I would imagine that owning a design store must be an exercise in restraint when it comes to decorating your own home. How do you decide when you have to have a piece from the store in your home?

JAN: Well, the practical answer is space! We’ve already got a furnished home, so anything that we newly acquire now has to be really spot on. There are also probably a few things from home that we could rotate out to make space for something new, but sometimes it’s hard to actually see what’s there and remember that you can reassess it. It’s easy to get so used to things that you don’t even truly see them anymore. 

ARIEL: Which brings us back around to the merging of old and new. There are these chairs we carry at Periscope, a beautiful Børge Mogensen design from 1958, called the Spanish Chair, and I just lust after them. They’re gorgeous new, but they’re even better as they age. Somebody’s got to buy them new, but when you really want them is 20, 30, 40 years from now when the wood is all smoothed over and the leather is soft and creased from wear. Maybe this says something about quality and craftsmanship over other driving forces in deciding what to buy. 

THE MAINERS: Your appreciation for craftsmanship is evident throughout your home. Ariel, has your life as an artist influenced the space you live in?

ARIEL: Honestly, this is the first home I’ve lived in where I haven’t been the dominant decorator slash creator! Jan already lived here, and I moved into his space. So in this situation the question points to how two people meld their sense of creating space together

THE MAINERS: And how did that go for you two?

ARIEL: It’s a little slow and gentle. I don’t want to rush in and make changes too quickly, especially as we’re both people who feel strongly about our aesthetic choices, and we’re both incredibly stubborn. 

But back to your previous question: I think I’ve always infused my living spaces with a bit of whimsy and pragmatic creativity—like, how can I creatively solve a storage problem? Could I use those gorgeous rocks I lugged home to prop up a shelf? I’ve always seen my living space as an extension of my sense of self, and it’s always functioned as a sort of “thinking” space for creative projects and my intellectual life—I try on ideas through doing and redoing, through iterating, through continual, progressive musing on the books I’m reading and the ideas they spur and the tactile results of that. Something I’ve made or found goes up on the wall and then comes down, or gets placed on a shelf, then moved, then moved again and combined with something else… That doesn’t happen so much in this house because the space begs to be left more uncluttered, and because I also have a studio in the house, which I’ve never had before, so much of that thinking process can happen in a more contained area.

THE MAINERS: Art—including your own—is so much of the soul of your home. Could you tell us about some of your favorite works? What advice would you give someone looking to start a collection? 

JAN: Either the Red Devil over the fireplace, or the brush head guy I made that’s hanging in the stairwell.

ARIEL: I agree with both of those! I also have some pieces, both others’ and my own, tucked away in boxes that I’d love to unearth and put up, but since those aren’t up on the walls yet… I guess that makes me think, in terms of starting a collection, I’d say just buy what moves you. Support your artist friends, if you can, and have fun playing with proximity when placing pieces in your home. Move things around! Swap things out!


THE MAINERS: Outside of your art collection, do you have any other prized collections you can tell us about? 

ARIEL: I’d probably say my jewelry. I used to wear lots of jewelry, all the time, but since moving back to Maine I’ve found I’m less adventurous that way. And now that I have a baby-almost-toddler, for whom jewelry equals toy, I’m not really wearing any at all. BUT I still have a great collection! Some of it inherited from my grandmother, some from my mother, and much of it found at thrift stores.

JAN: My motorcycles! I’ve got five. Not riding them as much as I’d like to be right now, but I’ll get back to it.

THE MAINERS: Where are you most at home inside your home, and why?

ARIEL: This isn’t what my heart would want to say, but it’s probably the kitchen. Since Lola was born I’ve spent more and more time in the kitchen, which is open to the dining room and living room. We basically hang out there all day, eating and cooking, yes, but also playing and working. I can usually get some computer work done at the counter or work on some small hand project at the dining table while caring for her. It’s an easy place for us both to be, occupied and relatively happy, for long stretches. 

JAN: Sitting at the dining table in the middle of the great room. It’s central, and it’s just so open and light, I love it. 

THE MAINERS: You both have long-time connections to Maine. Has your shared love of this place made its way into your aesthetic?

JAN: I think there’s an appreciation for simplicity and natural materials that we both share, especially for wood, and a certain color palette of blues, greens, and grays that we tend to both prefer. 

ARIEL: That’s definitely true, and I’d add that we both like a little of the crusty funkiness of Maine, too. We like to make things from ocean detritus. 


THE MAINERS: Simplicity is evident in your use of white throughout. Tell us more about color—or lack thereof in some cases—in your space. 

JAN: The house was painted this slightly warm white when I moved in, and it’s perfect. A modern home like this, with such a high ceiling in the great room, and so many large windows… It just wants to be white, a clean palette to highlight outside, or allow whatever’s within the house to punctuate and stand out.

ARIEL: White walls, white ceiling, white trim: it’s clean, makes the space airy, and keeps it uncomplicated and unfussy. As for what goes in the house, I almost always tend toward what I’d call “easy” colors—naturals, mostly—with a little flare of red or neon here and there. Jan likes bolder colors in general. 

THE MAINERS: What is a typical Sunday morning like in your house?

JAN: Well, I’m working seven days a week these days (on projects for Ogilvy), so if I’m lucky Sunday mornings bring a little respite with a brunch with family or friends before getting back on my computer for the day. 

ARIEL: It’s true! We’re pretty much go, go, go here between running a small business, Lola, and Jan’s Ogilvy work. I’d like to think that Sundays could be precious, and maybe one day they will be again, but right now they’re like any other day. Lola gets us up early!

THE MAINERS: Speaking of Lola, how has having a baby influenced your space?

ARIEL: We’ve got a lot more stuff now! And lots more plastic. We’ve also shuffled rooms around a bit, sort of abandoning what has been our bedroom upstairs—this completely serene, tidy space—and moving downstairs into what had been the guest room. We haven’t even started on creating a room for Lola yet. We’ve hemmed and hawed about which room should be hers and finally decided that we’ll dismantle our shared studio space and make it her room.

JAN: This house wasn’t really built for a family. It hasn’t been obvious what room should be Lola’s. It’s a real sacrifice to give up our studio, but she’s obviously worth it!





    Written by Rebecca Falzano


    When a historic home by an esteemed architect goes up for sale, you hold your breath that the right people find their way to it. There’s a responsibility inherent in such a house—a call to honor its past while ushering it into the future. This house designed by John Howard Stevens, son of renowned Maine architect John Calvin Stevens, fell into just the right hands. Ali Malone and Ben Ray share a love of real estate, art, and design, and their enthusiasm for creating eclectic spaces has found the perfect home here. Ali is a broker at Portside Realty Group and a real estate development consultant, and Ben is the founder of Evangeline Linens. The couple also owns Urban Edit, a company that buys, renovates, and resells homes. With their combined skill set and passions, the couple is poised to be the home’s careful stewards for years to come.

    Read on to get a glimpse inside their lives and this historic space. 


    "We have both developed quite a love for art collecting and we especially love supporting local artists.

    Actually, maybe art 'addiction' is a better word."


    Quick Edit

    Favorite record to play on a Sunday:

    Leon Bridges for the adults. Michael Jackson on repeat if you ask the kids.

    Describe the vibe in your home in one word:


    Most unexpected item in your closet:

    Usually our kids. It’s their favorite hiding spot. 

    Summer or winter:


    Current book on your nightstand:

    David Sedaris, Theft by Finding for him. A full pile of guilty pleasure mysteries for her (don’t tell).

    Best family-friendly neighborhood spot:

    Isa for dinner. Rose Foods for breakfast. 

    Place you met:

    Yankee Lanes back when the Bowl Portland league was there (pre-Bayside Bowl). We bowled in a league together for our whole relationship until this year.

    Chocolate or vanilla:

    Chocolate. With nuts. 


    THE MAINERS: So you hit the historic house jackpot! How did you find the house, and what was it like the first time you laid eyes on it?

    ALI: In a strange twist of fate, I spent quite a bit of time in this house as a child. One of my good friends in elementary school lived in the house decades ago. I have memories of playing in the room that now belongs to my son. I remember it being a warm home that seeped with character. Reentering the house as potential buyers nearly three decades later was totally surreal. We had sold our last home in the West End the previous year and were in a short-term rental while we shopped. The process had been more daunting than expected, and the nesting instinct was strong (I was 8 months pregnant). We both walked into the house and just said, “yup, this is it.” We loved the character, history, light, layout, neighborhood—everything. The sellers had raised their family in the home, and I think they were happy to see it go to people with vision for the house’s future and respect for its past. It took some time to work through the details, but we closed on the house a month after Harlow was born and began making it our own.

    BEN: We were both on the same page when we saw the house. We knew we wanted to make an offer. We immediately started running through who would have what room, and what projects we wanted to tackle. For us, that’s a great sign. It had been hard to leave the West End, we loved it there, and this neighborhood shared some of the same vibes. That was important, too. And also, when you're without a home and your wife is 8 months pregnant, she’s the boss.

    THE MAINERS: What’s it like living in a piece of history? What speaks to you about the architecture, and how do you honor the history there?

    ALI: We both love Portland architecture and have lived in a series of amazingly different historic homes throughout the city. When we moved in together we purchased a federal-style building downtown that we converted to condos. We kept the third floor in the project. It was (to date) our oldest property, from 1818, and was on the National Historic Registry. We loved the process of restoring it to make it our own while also trying to honor the history. We did that process again just a few years later when we bought a bank-owned Victorian in the West End and brought it back to life. The two properties both felt very “us” even though they were very different architecturally. When we found this house it was so different stylistically from the other properties that we had owned but still felt like the totally right fit. As with our art and furnishings, we both have eclectic taste in architecture so it’s easy to shift from space to space.

    In terms of the John Howard Stevens component specifically, it was a real draw for me. I've shown countless properties designed by John Calvin Stevens over the years. They can vary greatly in style and grandeur but the layouts and thoughtfulness are consistent. Our house actually reminds me more of some the Great Diamond Island cottages than of the more “typical” West End type JCS architecture. I was drawn to the fact that JHS had designed this house to use personally (it was the first house he designed). He started his family in the house and you can feel that in the space. It has a casualness and practicality that spoke to me—it felt modern for the era.

    BEN: It has a bit of a California feel with the beams on the first floor. We’ve definitely dug into the history of JCS and JHS. Only a few other families have lived in this house, including John Howard Stevens. The home was built in 1904 as one of his earliest solo projects; he designed the addition in 1914 as his family outgrew the original footprint. His father, John Calvin Stevens, eventually moved from a house in the West End and built the house next door and his sister built and moved in to a house on the other side. We actually have a wonderful oil painting above the fireplace by John Calvin Stevens that he painted for his son. We’ve bought several books on JCS and even have (copies of) the original floor plans.

    THE MAINERS: Honoring the past while making some updates is a delicate balance, isn’t it? What were some of the first projects you tackled? 

    ALI: The master bedroom and bathroom in the house didn’t work for me. It was dated and the flow and utility wasn't being maximized. We never even moved our stuff into the room. We worked with the talented group at Barrett Made to gut the rooms back to the studs and totally rework the space. I think it’s now my favorite space in the house. We vaulted the ceilings up and left all the old collar ties exposed. We actually combined what had been two rooms to create an office for Ben, tons of (well hidden) closet space, a spacious and bright master bathroom, and a large bedroom area. When the chaos of the family and working at home gets overwhelming it feels like a mini spa retreat to me. We painted the whole room white, trim included, which modernized the space quite a bit and is a nice shift from the darker trim in the rest of the house.

    BEN: We also dove right into some painting projects. Our den had been all dark wood paneling with black floors (not original to the house). We painted the whole room white, which made it much brighter. It’s a space that gets a lot of use by the whole family, so we wanted it to be bright and playful. Also, we both love being outside and we’re excited to work in the garden. The house had mature gardens, but we wanted to simplify them and work to create more usable outdoor space for the family. The second summer in the house we built a beautiful back patio. We have our Preway fireplace out there and have even just ordered some comfy new outdoor furniture. We put in a nice herb garden and have a grape arbor over the dining area.


    "I LOVE the credenza—it's supposedly a Kagan—in our living room that our record player sits on. We actually bought it off the people we rented from in between this house and our last. They were moving to New York City, and it was too heavy for them to move. The Lucite legs make it look like it’s floating."

    THE MAINERS: How does your style complement the house’s architectural bones? 

    BEN: I don't know if it actually does. We buy what we like and throw it in a space to see if it works. It's eclectic and different and authentic. We strive to never have a space looking too much like a Design Within Reach showroom. (Although, we do love everything from Design Within Reach.) I’m not sure if our style fits with the house. I hope it does. But it’s our style and it’s what we love.

    ALI: Yes! What he said. It’s a lot of trial and error. And we both try to have fun with it. It’s easy to complement a house with great architecture.

    THE MAINERS: Ali, as a Portland native and a third-generation real estate broker, you have a deep-rooted appreciation for homes. What was important to you in finding your own home?

    ALI: I'll definitely sound like a broker with this statement, but LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. We have to be drawn to the neighborhood and to the vibe of both the house in question and the neighboring properties. I also have issues with claustrophobia, I'm always drawn to houses that have a good, open flow, and I tend to like properties that are up high (all three of our houses have been up on hills) with some sense of openness and view. Light is also very important to me. This house faces south and the layout deliberately maximizes light. John Howard Stevens was also pretty progressive on the energy efficiency front. The house has overhangs that maximize passive solar in the winter, when the sun sits low in the sky. In the summer, the overhangs create shade and help to keep the house cool. I'm also a “structure person,” I like the nuts and bolts of a house and like to spend time down in the basements of properties to get a sense for how well built they are.

    THE MAINERS: Ben, how does your experience with and love for textiles get woven (no pun intended) into the design of your home? And how did you get started on Evangeline?

    BEN: For more than a decade, I have traveled the United States working in the textile industry. I have always been on the sales side of small Maine businesses (Angela Adams on the west coast, Transformit and Brahms Mount here in Maine). At a certain point, it just made more sense to branch off and do something on my own. I would have loved to buy into any of the above companies but knew that was never going to be an option. Evangeline, named after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, is my new business. I’m making heirloom-quality Maine bed blankets and throws and am selling them across the country in small boutique stores and high-end linen shops. I am proud to own my own company and to be able to execute my own vision for luxury, high-quality goods. I’m proud of the Maine connection, too, as it inspires me every day. It’s great to be able to support the textile industry here. I’m so excited to grow and be able to expand and hire more people to join my team. Being in the home industry makes the home design stuff more fun, too. When I travel to trade shows and to visit the stores that carry my products, I always find tons of inspiration. It’s great to discover new brands, trends, and so on, and to be able to support the companies that support me.


    THE MAINERS: Your combined styles not only complement the house, but they work really well together—which often time takes some work. Where do you both get your eye for design from?

    ALI: I think we both enjoy, most of, the same design elements. The fun part, for me at least, is how our styles are compatible but our skills sets are actually quite opposite. I really enjoy doing layout work and color selection—paint colors are my jam. Ben is really great at the interior furnishings, sourcing products, and finishing touches. It’s fun to be able to complement each other.

    I was lucky to have grown up surrounded by great design. Both my parents have amazing taste and have instilled a great love and respect for the arts in all of their children. I remember my parents hosting “gallery shows” at their house and sometimes being allowed to choose a piece of art at studio openings. I also grew up around tons of property (my dad being a broker) and around renovations (I remember three big moves as a child—all with big projects). As a kid, we used to spend weekends at “apartment camp,” which consisted of using “elbow grease” to improve our family-owned apartments. Once you see the potential that a space can have if you invest yourself in it, the sky is the limit.

    BEN: I'm a bit OCD. I think it helps, as I like rooms to look and feel a certain way.


    THE MAINERS: Tell us about your amazing and diverse collection of artwork. What are some of your favorite pieces?

    BEN: We have both developed quite a love for art collecting and we especially love supporting local artists. Actually, maybe art “addiction” is a better word. It’s nice that this is an area where our tastes are, usually, pretty well in line. We coveted one of the pieces in our living room, a sort of modern portrait by Rob Sullivan, for so long that we each almost bought it for the other for multiple holidays. I finally won by surprising Ali with it for Christmas years ago. I found a piece at a junk shop up north that is a favorite of both of ours. It's a collage-style piece of two nudes in a beautiful frame. We have no idea who it’s by but that doesn’t matter to us. Having MECA in Portland is such a great asset for the city. We’ve met so many students and teachers who are so wonderfully talented and creative. We definitely get inspiration from there.

    ALI: Yes! Totally agreed. Portland’s art scene is so inspiring. Some of my favorite pieces are from artists that have been affiliated with MECA. The pieces by Tim Wilson are some of the first ones that we bought together. Also the wonderfully talented Michael Drodge and Anne Buckwalter. Our wedding photographer was Winky Lewis—she’s incredible. One of my favorite pieces is definitely a giant wedding photograph of us in our wedding attire wearing rubber animal masks that she took. It’s a fun version of the usual wedding shot. I also love our George Lloyd paintings. My parents have always collected his work, and he had an amazing show at the PMA a few years ago. I used to live in the apartment below him when I met Ben. The PMA is also such a great resource; the Contemporaries membership option is so great for ushering young people into the wide world of art.

    THE MAINERS: You also have a great mix of old and new furnishings. What are some of your favorites?

    ALI: I LOVE the credenza—it's supposedly a Kagan—in our living room that our record player sits on. We actually bought it off the people we rented from in between this house and our last. They were moving to New York City, and it was too heavy for them to move. The Lucite legs make it look like it’s floating. I also love the dining table by George Nakashima. It's so different from any other dining table you see around. I was so relieved that it fit in our dining room in this house! I also love our Womb Chair and so does everyone else in the family. We all fight over who gets to sit there in the morning. It’s really the most comfortable chair of all time. It was on both my and Ben’s wish lists for a long time before we finally found one on Craigslist that we could justify buying.

    BEN: I like the skulls and bones and zebra pelts and old things that are weird in form. We have this pelican skull that we found in Panama and brought back with us (very carefully). I also have quite a chair fetish. I really like our dining room chairs—chrome and worn leather really works. I might like the hunt for new and interesting pieces even more than owning them though. I’m really excited to be opening a retail shop in “the black box” on Washington Avenue this summer. I'll be selling Evangeline blankets and throws there, but I'll also be selling authentic vintage furniture and art. It will let me keep hunting even though out house is getting full! I’m going to be sharing the space with Amie Artisans, owned by Meredith Brockington, who is amazingly talented. She also is the photographer behind Evangeline.

    THE MAINERS: Speaking of shops, what are some of your go-to places to find items for your home?

    BEN: All our furnishings are sourced through Craigslist or thrift shops, Portland Flea for All, or secret spots throughout Maine. Like I said, I like the hunt and nothing is better than finding a buried score (figuratively and, often in Maine, literally).

    ALI: Or Marden’s. I am obsessed with Marden’s. We've gotten rugs, furniture, flooring, and even plumbing fixtures there. (No, I don't work there, ha.) It's always hit or miss but when you hit, it’s always amazing and such a bargain. And with Ben working in the design industry, we have wholesale access to great lines.


    THE MAINERS: Does having kids change how you view or treat your space? 

    BEN: We still have a white couch even with two kids under five. People are always shocked by that. I think we’ve taught our kids to be respectful of furniture but in the end, it’s all just things.

    ALI: I think we both decided that when we became parents we didn’t want to be totally buried in plastic. We try to be thoughtful about what we buy for them, and we swap stuff out on them all the time. We’ll hide stuff in the basement, then bring it back up a few months later and it’s like Christmas for them! We definitely had to get creative with storage options too. We have lots of stylish little bins everywhere so we’re not looking at the toys all the time. All this said, there is nothing that makes me smile more than finding a stray Lego while I'm gardening or a baby doll buried in my sheets when I go to bed at night.

    BEN: I've woken up with Legos stuck to my back—nope, not kidding.

    THE MAINERS: So what is one of your favorite family routines in this house?

    ALI: I love our morning ritual most of all. We have wonderful light in the living room in the morning. We all go down and get our morning drink (coffee for us and milk for the kids), and they play while Ben and I read the paper. We toss on a record and they’ll dance. We don't have a TV in the living room so there are no distractions, it's just a space to be together. One of the things that makes me feel most fortunate is that, since we work from home, we don't have a crazy rush in the mornings, and we can spend time as a family.

    BEN: Our dance sessions are so fun and give me a chance to play records. Atticus has some real moves. I also love having fires in the living room in the winter.

    See more of Evangeline Linens here