This Restored 18th-Century Maine Farmhouse Is an Artist's Treasure Trove

kettle cove home tour exterior wrap around proch
Photo: Justin Levesque

For some, an 18th-century farmhouse located a couple hundred yards from Maine's coast sounds like a dream. For designer Tyler Karu, it was simply the setting of her mother's home. When it came time to design the potential-rich property, her mission was simple: "Our vision was to preserve the character and history of the home," Karu explains. "Hundreds of years and numerous renovations left the property feeling like a bit of a hodgepodge. We wanted to strip the house to its bones and start over, paying homage to authentic farmhouse style, but with an eclectic focus driven by my mother's art and furnishings collection."

The small town of Cape Elizabeth also played a key role in the home's design. "We wanted to honor the beauty of the property and the environment—you can see the ocean from the primary bedroom," she explains. In the end, Karu and her mother transformed the 2,900-square-foot home into a cozy oasis that strikes the balance of charming and functional.

01 of 12

An Adapted Vision

kettle cove home tour entryway stairway
Justin Levesque

When it came to design challenges, Karu says that dealing with layout issues was the biggest hurdle from the start. "The kitchen is overly large, and some of the other spaces that we would have liked a bit more square footage in were lacking," she notes. "We either moved walls, or, when that was not doable, cleverly furnished the spaces to function on a smaller scale." The entryway, seen here, complete with a skinny bench for sitting, illustrates this.

02 of 12

A Touch of Maine

kettle cove home tour dining room table
Justin Levesque

Dining rooms are among Karu's favorite spaces to design, and that sense of enthusiasm was certainly reflected in her mother's own. "We designed the dining table with our friends from Huston & Co., a custom furniture company in Kennebunkport, Maine. We love working with them, and this table is a collaboration we're really excited about," she shares. "The Lindsey Adelman lights are also a highlight and conversation starter. Everyone loves them. They're basically iconic at this point, but I always think they're most appropriate installed in projects by the ocean."

03 of 12

A Gallery Wall

kettle cove home tour dining room art gallery
Justin Levesque

The dining room also became an outlet for personalization. "We wanted to be sure the house felt unique to my mother and showcased the pieces she's collected over the years. The dining room is filled with art created by artists she admires, her friends, and her mother (my grandmother, who is a world-renowned portrait artist)," Karu says.

04 of 12

The Gallery Continues

kettle cove home tour staircase photo gallery wall
Justin Levesque

"The black-and-white gallery running up the stairwell is a collection of work by my great-uncle on my father's side, Leon Levinstein," Karu says of the home's second gallery wall. "I'm fortunate to come from long lines of creative people."

05 of 12

A Natural Color Palette

kettle cove home tour entryway hallway seating area
Justin Levesque

Selecting the home's color palette—a curation of neutrals, pictured here in the hallway—came easily when Karu considered the setting of the property, which is less than a mile from Maine's beautiful coastline. "We wanted the colors to be neutral or rooted in nature. The majority of the color palette is soft, allowing the furnishings and materials to speak for themselves."

06 of 12

Old and New

kettle cove home tour kitchen island home decor
Justin Levesque

Karu's mother is, in the designer's own words, "a skilled and prolific cook"—she is a cooking columnist for magazines and websites, which is why the kitchen needed to function as a true workspace, without sacrificing the farmhouse aesthetic. To achieve this, they merged found treasures with modern-day technology. "The beams were salvaged from a barn in Warren, Maine, and look like they're original to the house," Karu says. "It's not always easy to create an Old World aesthetic in a room full of large stainless appliances, but I think we succeeded in making the appliances recede into the background."

07 of 12

Form and Function

kettle cove home tour kitchen island eating area
Justin Levesque

While it was important that the island have plenty of prep space for cooking, Karu was concerned that the mass of stone on the oversized island would feel overwhelming. To create balance, she added a brass transition strip and wood countertop to designate a counter-stool seating area.

08 of 12

Strategic Antiques

kettle cove home tour decorative pantry door
Justin Levesque

Of her and her mother's intentional antique search, Karu says, "We hunted for specific items, like a pantry door that looked like it might have been there for a while. We found the etched glass door with the ship from Portland Architectural Salvage and knew we had the right piece."

09 of 12

Somewhere Cozy to Gather

kettle cove home tour living room stone fireplace
Justin Levesque

The sunken living room has a built-in cozy vibe, which Karu took full advantage of by adding a statement stone fireplace surround. "We worked with a local stone mason and locally sourced stone to be sure it had an authentic quality and didn't look like a stone supplier façade," Karu explains. Another item of note: her mother's framed insect collection. "It's a mix of decoupage plates and a bust, large framed insects, botanical prints, and an antique European school chart."

10 of 12

Bright Nooks

kettle cove home tour living room nook home decor
Justin Levesque

In the living room, a wall-suspended half table shows off a sea-foam pottery collection; above, another of Karu's mother's collected paintings hangs on full display.

11 of 12

Lots of Contrast

kettle cove home tour rustic bathroom
Justin Levesque

While the compact bathroom's bold wallpaper certainly introduces a moody tone to the space, the metallic accents offered balance and contrast with a hint of shine. "We loved the wallpaper with the sink and faucet combo. They have a bit of a steampunk vibe," Karu says.

12 of 12

A Touch of Femininity

kettle cove home tour master bedroom
Justin Levesque

The master bedroom showcases blush tones, a curved headboard, and shapely prints to create an inherently feminine space that Karu notes is very true to her mother. "My aesthetic leans more masculine, and I love that this space shows the difference in our personal styles and feels so much like her," she says. Matching nightstands, lighting, and accent mirrors add symmetry and balance.

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