Skylands: Maine Summer Home
Martha redecorates Skylands, her rugged summer home on the coast of Maine, and reveals the basic principles of her deeply personal style.
A pergola covered with fruit-bearing kiwi vines on the western terrace.
A series of 26 reproduction 17th-century astrological globe engravings in the second-floor hallway.
A porcelain worktable and open shelves.
One of a pair of glazed terra-cotta sphinxes designed by Emile Muller.
Martha uses scale to dramatic effect. A 6-foot-long mirror hangs above a 10-foot-long table she designed, with a polished pink granite top and hidden drawers. On it are just a few strong objects, like the enormous concrete planters.
Reflections bring a room to life. On this 19th-century American table, delicate finishes that capture light -- a gilded mirror, mercury glass vases, 18th-century candlesticks, lampshades trimmed with glimmering passementerie -- energize the rugged textures of the house.
Faux bois concrete planters, filled with moss from the woods surrounding the house, run the length of a dining table set for 20 guests and create a humble but perfect centerpiece for Maine.
An assortment of big glass storage jars sits on a window ledge in the butler's pantry; their metal tops echo the galvanized metal of the sink.
Eighteen stools of various heights were gathered from the rest of the house and painted white. They now stand around the kitchen table, and guests, short or tall, can sit where they are most comfortable.
Great Wall of China
In the kitchen, Martha created her own Great Wall of China by taking every white dish she could find out of the cupboards and putting them on display. A porcelain fishmonger's table blends in perfectly to create an intriguing composition in an unexpected place.
Every home needs a heart. You might expect it to be the fireplace, but a circular table, 9 feet in diameter, dominates the Great Hall and serves as the hub of Skylands. Nothing smaller would have even made an impression in a room that measures 28 by 42 feet. Seven stools were collected from the far corners of the house and upholstered in the same wool damask that covers the sofas. The stools are enough alike to look good together, but different enough not to feel too formal and planned.
The Steinway grand piano with a player mechanism had grown so black over the years that Martha assumed it was ebonized until she had it restored.
The nickel-coated copper-topped table has the mellowed look of pewter.
Card Table Makeover
Martha transformed an ordinary card table by covering it with a floor-length tablecloth made from pumice-colored leather, and trimmed with antique silver-mesh ribbon at the seams; hand-tooled white gold details the edges. A game of Scrabble is never hard to initiate at Skylands.
Venetian glass, on an antique bronze faux-bamboo mirrored tray, sits on a nickel-coated copper-topped coffee table -- an ethereal still life that sparkles and almost disappears in the afternoon light.
The basic elements in each bedroom are similar, yet different enough so each room has a distinct personality; a consistent and subtle formula keeps them simple and inviting. A lustrous four-poster is dressed with a cotton voile canopy, Belgian linen, cotton matelasse, striped woven wool, and a skirt like a taffeta ball gown.
A cabriole-leg bench serves as a window seat.
In a bathroom, thick, creamy terry-cloth towels are the perfect complement to thick, creamy tiles.
An ancient Chinese incense bowl and a book-covered circular table in the Living Hall echo the effect of the table in the Great Hall. Just beyond, Edsel Ford's vintage telescope beckons guests to cross the room and take a peek.
Martha never forgets the big gesture. Skylands' first-day book, a hybrid guest book and scrap album, is so enormous, at 30 by 36 inches, it needs to rest on two tables when open. Soldierlike, a tall brass floor lamp stands guard; the silk shade with antique ball fringe designed by Martha softens all that brass.