This ocean-side haven serves as an enchanting place to get away or get together. The idyllic cottage, reborn from a family home, has been a labor of love for sisters Jane Rabbit and Kathy Mercer.
Strolling along the beach and making family recipes alongside their mother are favorite memories of growing up in this small Maine beach community for Jane and Kathy. When the cottage passed from one generation to the next, the sisters opted to preserve it as a weekend and summer getaway for the coming generations.
Plans changed, though, when the need to replace a deteriorating roof led to the discovery of unsound support beams, so the sisters opted to tear down the home and rebuild it with a similar but larger footprint while recreating the original character and charm of the circa-1890 cottage. “When you walk through the front door, you can see all the way through the house to the ocean beyond,” Jane says.
All it takes is a corner to fix a landing spot for beach hats and sandy bags. Old-fashioned beaded board lends interest to the mudroom’s white painted walls. Baskets organize beach necessities. Recreate these built-in elements with a short bench, cubby shelf and hooks hung from molding.
In the main gathering area, tall windows capture a view of the tree-lined backyard and the ocean beyond. Durable white oak planks cover the floor. The round window by the staircase was added because “it recalls the shape of a porthole,” Jane says.
The vintage school desk and chair were originally a gift from a neighbor to the sisters’ mother.
Sand, sea, sky, and sun were the inspiration for the cottage colors, with the view serving as the primary artwork. “The sun can be strong at times, so we opted for lots of washable, white slipcovers,” Jane explains. Most of the other furnishings are family heirlooms that date back a couple of generations.
Jane fashioned the staircase after one she saw in a home nearby. Clapboard siding lends additional interest to the staircase wall. The drop-leaf table served as the kitchen table in the original home.
Hooked by Jane, the rug in front of the table depicts a schooner that ran aground more than a century ago. The shipwreck can still be seen on the beach at low tide.
Provide soft landing spots and flashes of color on expanses of hardwood floors with small rugs. Cut to match a piece of nonslip rubber padding for each to help them stay put.
An alcove off the main room, the hearth area serves as a cozy spot for warm brews and casual conversations. Jane and Kathy hooked the colorful wool rugs by hand; these portray Nantucket whirligigs.
The bookcases display a collection of vintage bottles and their mother’s favorite books.
Coastal and seafaring references abound in this nautical cottage.
This handsome marble-top chest has been handed down through generations. Jane and Kathy’s mom used it as a chest of drawers when she was a little girl. The large-scale jar displays wine corks that the family has been collecting for years.
“The layout is open so that the whole family can be together, but there are also multiple nooks where you can relax and enjoy the view or the sunshine,” she adds. The window seat offers ideal natural light for hooking rugs.
The kitchen is designed for true cooks. “Kathy and I make everything from scratch,” Jane says. “The layout and the large island make it easy for us to cook together when we are both here.” Storage is plentiful, with nooks in the island, cabinets to the ceiling and help-yourself open shelving by the sink.
Black soapstone counters top off white painted kitchen cabinets. Vintage-look subway tiles protect the walls. Running the cabinets all the way up to the 9-foot ceiling provides display space for vintage crocks, bean pots, and antique dinnerware.
A big-screen TV keeps the family occupied during inclement weather. Comfy chairs are from the original home—the sisters had them reupholstered in blues and yellows.
A vintage oil painting at the end of the upstairs hallway reminds visitors of the stunning lighthouse views that are just up the road.
Beaded board wainscoting adorns the walls of the main upstairs bath. The pedestal tub was salvaged from the previous cottage and resurfaced. The chandelier originally hung in the old cottage’s kitchen. Two rows of glass tiles lend additional interest to the watery blue tile floor.
Each of the four bedrooms has the same footprint, including the angled wall created by the gambrel roof. The hooked rug in this bedroom displays Jane and husband Peter’s wedding date. Classic glass lamps lend balance to old mismatched side tables.
“When we step inside the door, it doesn’t take us long to shed our hectic lifestyles and become a part of this community all over again,” Jane says.
Photography courtesy of Jamie Salomon, except as noted
© Caruth Studio