In the Media
Maine Home+Design, May 2014
The coastline of the Kennebunks is classically scenic, a graceful undulation of points, necks, and crescents shaped by sandy swath and rocky ledge. Along this shoreline is a smattering of historic homes with the sea at their feet—as much a part of the landscape as its natural features. They are landmarks, points of reference, living relics in an evolving town.
One of these antique homes sits along Beach Avenue. Anyone who’s driven by knows it: a Victorian on the rocks with a grassy patch leading to an open porch leading to open ocean. Built in the 1880s (after a fire burned down the original house in 1860), the house’s other-era charm is what first attracted Michael and Barbara Neuberger. The Massachusetts couple has been coming to Maine for more than 15 years, first as renters then as summer residents. They timed their visits with the Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association summer program, which their four children participated in every year. Their first home was right around the corner from Beach Avenue; it was an old home they had renovated. For many years, during their walks and runs along the beach, they admired the Victorian’s architecture and its location right at the edge of the ocean. “It’s a proud home that has stood almost untouched for many years overlooking the water,” says Barbara. Needless to say, when the place went on the market, they jumped.
Maine Home+ Design, May 2014
Since 1660, there has been an inn on one end of Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk. Since 1756, that establishment has been the Seaside Inn, run by the Gooch family and their descendants. In fact, the current owners are ninth-generation innkeepers, which makes the Seaside Inn the oldest continuously operating family business in the country. In 1959, a ranch house called The Dunes was built next to the inn and by 2001—when a Wisconsin bond manager, his wife, and two children were visiting the Kennebunks—the house was available for rental. The family rented each August till 2009, when the Seaside Inn’s 20 acres were subdivided, and the house came up for sale. “We love that beach. We love that community,” the husband says. “We had to buy it or say goodbye.” The property was spectacular, directly abutting the beach and with broad views up and down the coastline, but the ranch was in disrepair. The family wanted to build new, but they had to act fast, as FEMA was changing the flood maps. If they waited, they wouldn’t be able to build.
Maine Home+ Design, February 2014
Real estate developer and hotelier Tim Harrington is responsible, with his business partners, for nine upscale hotels and inns in the Kennebunk area. Their properties include luxury bungalows in the woods; bright, chic rooms at Goose Rocks Beach; a New England inn; and elegant, European-style accommodations: Hidden Pond, the Tides Beach Club, the Kennebunkport Inn, and the Grand Hotel respectively. So where does the Miami-based Harrington rest his weary head when he is in town? The answer has changed in the 29 years that Harrington has been coming to the Kennebunks. In fact, it has changed eight times, as he’s bought, renovated, then sold homes for himself. Up until a few years ago, Harrington lived in a large, turn-of-the-century shipbuilder’s house with many rooms. “It was really fun,” he says, but too big and lonely in the winter. Sociability was on his mind when, in 2009, he saw an old post-and-beam house across the river from Sea Grass Lane, a road of luxury residences that he had developed with Michael and Stephen Spenlinhauer of Kennebunkport’s Seaport Development Group. Originally built as a single-family home in the mid-1880s, the post and beam neighbored the Breakwater Inn, also built in the 1880s. (It operates to this day as the Breakwater Inn and Spa.) By the time Harrington came across the house, it had been divided into three units, two of which were available and one of which was being used by an artist. Although the house was no longer what it had once been, Harrington was drawn to its location: on the mouth of the Kennebunk River with tremendous, wide views of the river, ocean, and coastline. “The mouth of the river is a special place,” Harrington says. “Every boat that comes in and out of the harbor goes by the house.”
Whether it’s unearthing a distressed armoire or scooping up one-of-a-kind watercolors from a local artist, face it, you love the thrill of the find.
Maybe you love the thrill of the hunt less and need a place to begin your home decor quest. On a recent field trip, we confirm that Hurlbutt Designs, Kennebunk’s home goods shop, is a must-add on the shopping itinerary of any home-design lover.
When not designing the interiors of commercial spaces (Kennebunkport’s Hidden Pond Resort and Earth restaurant, Tides Beach Club, and the Kennebunkport Inn, among others) and residential homes, owner and designer Louise Hurlbutt is busy hitting up trade events and sourcing antiques worldwide to bring a collection of uncommon goods to the Maine coast.
The gorgeous 4,000-square-foot shop and design studio Hurlbutt runs with her husband, Ralph, brims with art, ceramics, furniture (including Hickory and Mitchell Gold), and unusual, eye-catching objets d’art. I had my eye on a trio of vintage glass wine jugs, a collection of geometric porcelain tea jars, and textural ceramic birch vases.
Why add to the complexity of a robust interior design operation with a retail store? “It’s simple,” Hurlbutt says. “I really believe interior designers work best when the products can be seen and touched by their clients. The vignettes and room displays tell a compelling visual story and help clients understand the design process and how everything will work together in their home.”
The shop, of course, is also a destination for tourists and summer residents who drop in to scoop up a gift, find a treasure for their cottage, or just garner a dose of color and style inspiration from Hurlbutt.
Hurlbutt’s impeccable style and love of color and design come from some formal training at the New York School of Interior Design as well as more than 20 years of living abroad.
Maine Home+Design, May 2012
I love the Kennebunks.
My friend Bettina often notes, “you’re good there,” after checking in with me during a Kennebunkport visit. She knows what this place does for my soul, surrounded by great friends, in familiar territory, and with views and access to the Atlantic at every turn.
When I decided I had to begin a move back to Maine in 2001, Kennebunkport was where I started with my young family. With my three sons, we explored and fell in love with magical places with equally magical names, such as Cape Porpoise, Goose Rocks Beach, Cleaves Cove, Turbat’s Creek, and Middle Beach. For my kids, these were fun-filled destinations where we kayaked, collected beach treasures, or rode our bikes. For me, they became important—and unforgettable—healing places.
So, of course, I have a special excitement about sharing the stories in this issue of Maine Home+Design. On these pages we talk about the exciting work being done by Tim Harrington and Deb Lennon as they continue, in the tradition of Laurie Bongiorno, their commitment to creating a world-class destination for visitors and new dining options for full- and part-time residents. With their investment in properties such as Hidden Pond, Tides Beach Club, the Kennebunkport Inn, Old Fort Inn, Cottages at Cabot Cove, and others, as well as their focus on quality design and construction—working with the likes of Louise Hurlbutt, Ted Carter, and Kevin Lord—they are transforming the Kennebunks yet again. And, they are doing it smartly and tastefully.
Maine Home+Design, May 2012
At some point during the planning of my wedding, about the time when dresses and hairstyles and such were being discussed, I balked. All this to-do. It wasn’t my thing. I said to my mother, “I don’t really want to be the focus of attention.”
“But you’re the bride,” she observed.
Well, true enough.
Given my own way of thinking, I shouldn’t have been so surprised when I called up real-estate developer Tim Harrington to arrange an interview. My task: write a profile of this man responsible for beautiful residences, upscale restaurants, a major health and fitness center, and multiple luxury-hotel properties in the Kennebunks.
Maine Home+Design, May 2012
A client asked me to design a small space off the bedroom she shared with her husband. The room was to be “her” space, a study or a library—a retreat where she could escape to write poetry, read, and relax. Her criterion was a pink palette because pink embodies an ongoing spring and summer. She wanted to feel happy and smile every time she entered the room. She also felt strongly that she wanted most of the furnishings to be made in the United States.
In a design world that has lately featured neutral colors, I was excited to design with a pink palette. Ralph Lauren and Lilly Pulitzer have brought pink back into their lines. Pink paint can be a tough color to work with, but one can create a glowing ambience with candles and gentle lighting. It is one of the most flattering of colors. One of my favorite colors in this palette is Benjamin Moore’s Bridal Pink.
This Space, This Way:
This summer house sits on the water, so the homeowner wanted it to have a nautical feel. Louise Hurlbutt used a classic navy and white color palette with pops of coral for some fun.
“When a home has views of the water, I like to pull in the colors of the sky and ocean so the interior does not conflict with the exterior surroundings. With this open plan, from kitchen to dining room to living room, it is so important that there be great flow in the design and color.”
Trick of the Trade:
“Architectural features are important. This room’s coffered ceilings with dropped beams, stonework, and an old mantelpiece add to the good bones of the house.”
Maine Home+Design, August 2011
For many years, the phrase “if we lived here” hung in the air of this Kennebunk cottage, pregnant with possibility. Maine had taken its hold on the Canadian couple who rented the house every summer for two decades. (Even before that, the wife had been coming to the area since she was 12.) The house had its own hold on the couple, too, and it’s no wonder: the cottage is a historic gem filled with the kinds of stories that families pass down over generations. Its original owners got married in 1881 in front of the home’s fireplace. In the attic is a door with the height of every grandchild etched into the wood. History lives here. And with that history came opportunity.