Kick off your shoes and step right into our Scarborough, Maine, home. From striped floors to beach-chic furniture, its creative touches fit every coast lover's lifestyle.

By Abigail B. Millwood
September 03, 2008
Jean Allsopp


Our mission: to create a new home with all the charm and character of a long-standing Maine cottage. So we turned to Portland-based designer Tracey Rapisardi, who always delivers captivating beach style with a large dose of functionality. "This house is designed for easy living," she says.

There’s nothing plain vanilla about the kitchen, with striped beaded-board walls, V-groove ceiling planks, an apron-front sink, and custom distressed cabinets. To keep the space light and bright, Tracey chose a sea-blue color with an antique rub for the island, topped with a white quartz counter. Modern, stainless steel appliances balance the kitchen's laid-back, lived-in feel. The double-drawer dishwasher offers flexibility when you have only a small load. Tracey also loves the large range: "It's like having two ovens," she says.


The dining room feels like an enclosed porch, with three walls of windows and doors. It's just one of many spaces residential designer Tom Daniels, who worked with Custom Concepts Inc. president Mike Richman, created to give the impression that the cottage is a beloved family home, rather than new construction. "We wanted the house to look like a structure that had been carefully added onto over time," Tom says.

Tracey followed suit with a design that implies the space was once open-air. "When all of the windows and doors are open, it feels just like you’re outside," she says. She styled the room accordingly, hanging a faux-weathered beach sign on the wall and a rusted chandelier filled with sea treasures above the table.


In the living room, Tracey painted subtle blue stripes on the walls and arranged the sitting area around the fireplace, which is surrounded with a facade of smooth, round rocks like those found on the local beaches. She dressed the chairs and sofas in an eclectic mix of custom fabric slipcovers and paired them with distressed painted wood tables. "The colors are great, and the worn look makes the room feel casual," Tracey says. "You feel like you can put your feet up."

Through the shutter doors, an adjoining study provides a comfortable place to curl up with a good book. It's furnished with a wicker settee and armchair, playful sea star–print cushions, and striped bolsters.


Tracey designed the master suite as an oasis, wrapping the room in sandy creams and watery blues in a mix of prints and patterns. "I wanted to combine classy traditional with beach cottage details and an urban contemporary twist," she says. To achieve the look, she layered the room in a sophisticated damask duvet and cane headboard, cabana-stripe pillows and distressed furniture, and a bold dot chair and modern lamps. To elevate the style even more, she turned her signature striped walls sideways: She asked her son, Nick, who owns a painting company in Boston, to carefully brush on horizontal stripes.

"There’s nothing like having a house on the water and not even needing to get out of bed to see the ocean," Tracey says. "You just wake up, and there it is." For those who can pull themselves out of bed, a private oceanside balcony awaits on the other side of the French doors.

No luxury suite would be complete without a posh bath. This one accommodates a spacious soaking tub and a large walk-in shower with body sprays and a rainfall showerhead. Individual vanities ensure plenty of room for the morning routine, but we can't guarantee there won't be a fight over the pièce de résistance: the dressing room. With rows of shelves for sweaters and storage, and a section devoted to showcasing shoes, this walk-in closet is every fashionista's dream come true.


Splashy colors are the name of the game in this comfortable guest room, where Tracey let her creativity run wild. "I wanted to show that you can use a lot of color in a small room and still mix in a little bit of formality and elegance," she says. "It's all about the beds in this room, so why not make them spectacular?"

Tracey’s daughter, Mandi, who designs bedding, pitched in on the project. She layered custom pieces with store-bought selections, and helped Tracey choose a sophisticated yet fun washed-silk fabric in a bamboo pattern to coordinate with the style of the headboards. Mandi also sewed the home's many custom slipcovers and curtain panels. In this room, she framed the windows with gauzy embroidered curtains that allow sunlight and breezes to fill the space.


Climb to the third floor and you'll find a room primed for a sleepover of mass proportions. With three beds (two twins and a full) plus cots, the bunk room has plenty of sleeping space for an ever-expanding crew. "In old Maine cottages, the third story is always where the kids go," Tracey says. "So I wanted it to feel like a dormitory and make it fun."

Her high-style dorm room includes painted floors and beaded-board walls and ceilings. Some boards run vertically and some run horizontally, almost as though they were put in place on a whim—exactly the look Tracey was going for. To maximize floor space, she chose casual wire shelving, baskets, and hooks instead of large bureaus or chunky dressers. Richie built the sailboat shelves in place of bedside tables.

Drawing inspiration from the scenery (the bunk room does have a bird's-eye view, after all), Tracey worked with a palette of pale blues and greens. Mandi continued the nautical theme by making casually chic duvets out of sailboat-print fabric with rope ties. Paired with polka-dot sheets and pillows, the decor is young and cheerful. "This room is everyone's favorite,” Tracey says, "because everyone wishes they’d had a place like this when they were a kid."

With ample storage and its own bath, the bunk room becomes a retreat for children of all ages, whether they like to watch boats out on the water, play board games by lantern-light, or hear a happy ending as they drift off to sleep in a soft bed.


Over the garage, Tracey turned bonus space into a craft and media room. "No matter who you are, everybody has projects," she says. "Whether you’re a scrapbooker, seamstress, or gift-wrapper, you need a space to do it." She took advantage of nooks created by the eaves of the house, placing work tables underneath the windows and using the abundant storage space to hide extra supplies. Cushy floor pillows in a wide range of colors and patterns make this an ideal place to spend a rainy—or lazy—afternoon.


Developer John Wiggin and builder Erik West worked with Tom and Mike to create a rambling Maine cottage that looks as though it's been on the waterfront lot for generations. Even more important than style was durability. "We needed products that had the aesthetics to go along with the cottage feel, but could also stand up to the elements," Mike says.

To achieve this, they covered the exterior in weathered gray polymer shingles that look like cedar but require none of the upkeep, and architectural stone that blends perfectly with Maine's building vernacular. For the roof, John chose low-maintenance composite shake shingles designed to withstand even the harshest weather. Also contributing to the house’s durability, clad windows and doors and PVC-based trim look polished and timeless, yet won't warp or rot. “Being right on the oceanfront, we often find that wood products get beaten down,” Tom says. "These materials look traditional, but at the same time, they’re going to last."


Outside, Tracey set out to create living spaces as inviting as the interiors. Comfortable resin furniture centers around the outdoor fireplace, made of manufactured stone that gives the appearance of aged rock but is more lightweight and easier to install. Upstairs on the roof deck (right), she opted for scaled-down teak pieces. "I was more conservative here because space is tight," she says. "We chose teak over bulky furniture so you can still see through the railing."