Decorating & Design

August 31, 2009

Road Trip!

A little while ago, I blogged about the importance of experiencing everyday style all around us — style that doesn’t cost a penny. Sometimes the most inspirational style experience can be free and that’s exactly what happened for me this summer. My wife Sara and I decided to take in the beauty along the coast of Maine. Oh yes, we loaded up the car (usually stuffed with props and junk finds) and headed out on a road trip!

road trip - on the highway to Maine

After making it safely through Quebec with the help of Nancy our GPS, we arrived in beautiful Maine. Of course I started snapping the perfectly faded architecture. This building actually had a ‘for rent’ sign swinging, and believe me, I was tempted. Do you know how many photo shoot locations I could get out of that place?!?

building with a "for rent" sign

Bar Harbor was one of my favourite stops. The elegance of the seafaring lifestyle reminded me that there is life beyond the heat and grime of the city.

Bar Harbor - sea-faring lifestyle

Another Bar Harbor shot — love the Hippie Van — must put on my Christmas list.

Bar Harbor - hippie van

Okay on to the good stuff — the houses! Bar Harbor used to be the summertime playground for New York and Boston society. And they knew how to ‘summer.’ They built these gorge-OUS summer houses with cedar shakes and gambrel roofs. Couple that with the twisting vines and the dappled shade from the century-old trees. I was in love.

Bar Habour - old summer house with vines

Sitting on the porch was a way of life. And check out these porches! I think we should bring this back, don’t you? Instead of tacking garages on the front of our houses, let’s make it a sweeping verandah.

large front porch summer house in Maine

Oh and I love the introduction of blue here! Just as pure as the ocean nearby and that layer of moss on the roof doesn’t hurt either. Don’t you just want to hear the sound of that gravel drive as you arrive at this, your summer house? Me too!

Summer house - blue accents, moss covered roof, gravel driveway

Here’s a snap captured beautifully by Sara — now if that’s not inspiring I don’t know what is! I can just see a room inspired by this scheme now — cloud white walls, pale blue ceiling, mossy green upholstery and bleached wood furniture the colour of weathered stone. Dreamy!

inspiring photo

We had to do a little shopping in Portland, Maine. I found a terribly chic little emporium called Blanche & Mimi where they had vintage French bistro chairs, block-printed bedding and vintage crockery. Later I found out that Martha Stewart had been lunching just down the street! P.S. Hood’s up ‘cause it was raining.

shopping in Portland, Maine

 My other (and number one) favourite stop was Kennebunkport. I can’t even begin to describe how effortlessly stylish our hotel was. It’s called The Colony and it’s this sweeping seaside resort from another era. It’s perched right on the ocean and the accompanying sights and smells are so invigorating. Check out that ship-shaped weather vane.

The Colony hotel in Kennebunkport - effortlessly stylish

Each room is charming and untouched (there are NO televisions!) and come with excellent ocean views. The foyer (below) is a dark moody room with unspoiled wood panelling, a fireplace, and intimate little groupings of vintage furniture. Plus the staff gathers bouquets from the grounds to brighten things up. I may have drooled upon entering. Oh and when you step through that door with the Palladian window, you’re looking right at the ocean. I am not lying.

The Colony foyer overlooking the ocean

As I mentioned there are no TVs, but there is this chic old library and a games room. If you need a break and a stylish place to curl up with a good book — is this not the perfect spot?

The Colony - chic old library and games room

Sara and I had our anniversary dinner in the hotel’s delightful dining room (again, sweeping ocean views). We ate off vintage monogrammed china and real silver. There was Maine blueberry pie too!

The Colony - the dining room with an ocean view

Let me tell you, it can be pretty draining pumping out one creative idea after another in this business. We all need time to recharge — and Maine did just that for me. I’d never been before, but I can guarantee I’ll be back. Soaking up all that beauty and style didn’t cost me a cent and has inspired me with tons of fresh new material. I highly recommend you give it a try.

Michael in Maine wearing a summer hat

Oh and while you do so, please wear a summer hat.

Photo credits:
Michael Penney