Wouldn't you just love to spend July 4th at this onetime hotel that designers John Knott and John Fondas transformed into their Maine summer house? Located on the remote Little Cranberry Island where the only year-round residents are lobstermen, this summer home is off the beaten path and only accessible by boat. There is one little store, and no cell-phone signal. It is truly a place to escape!
The living room's vivid fabrics, all by Knott's firm, Quadrille, pack a playful punch, while Syrian inlaid chairs and Chinese ceramic stools evoke the cosmopolitan taste of New England seafarers.
China Seas Aqua IV wallpaper sets off blue coral, a 19th-century lobster claw, and a vintage American marine relief painting.
The bold geometry of curtains in Quadrille's Tashkent and an Adirondack folding screen anchor the lively play of China Seas fabric patterns in the living room. Nitik II trimmed with Pimento on a pair of vintage armchairs, New Batik on an Albert Hadley armchair, and Aquarias on throw pillows. Framed whale prints and a mermaid console add a salty splash to the mix.
A French copper ship's lantern.
Knott retrieved a 1970s ikat from his archive for this slipcover.
The dining room's coconut-shell chandelier, Home Couture's paisley Taj wallpaper, and soapstone pagodas cast an exotic spell on a Yankee crew of antique Hitchcock chairs. The resin mirror is a 20th-century gem by decorators Zajac & Callahan.
A 1958 model Chris-Craft on a table made by a 19th-century sea captain.
Antique wicker adorns a hall papered in Quadrille's Vanderpoel Stripe. Cypress doors retain original hotel room numbers and exit signs. Dark floors got a coat of Benjamin Moore Patio White deck paint for summery brightness and easy cleaning.
An American Empire four-poster in the Greek Revival style just clears the master bedroom ceiling. The bed's monumental scale befits the wallpaper, Quadrille's Independence Engraving, depicting George Washington at the reins of a leopard-drawn chariot; the design was taken from a 1783 British printed fabric.
Independence Toile, the same pattern with a blue ground, covers the daybed next to a 19th-century English campaign chest.
The patriotic theme sprang from Fondas's collection of Washington memorabilia and American flags.
Restored windows frame views of Cadillac Mountain and Acadia National Park that have barely changed since Frederic Church painted them in 1850. His canvases inspired Maine's first wave of summer visitors.
For Fondas, the white canopy recalls Early America as well as the colonial nostalgia of his native Bahamas. This guest room's Georgian four-poster is canopied in check linen with a pom-pom fringe and dressed with Matouk linens. Hanging a mirror above the headboard, Knott explains, is a European touch.
Curtains in Home Couture's Lorraine flank a bamboo tripod from Emerson Antiques in Blue Hill, Maine. The Aesthetic Movement chair is upholstered in the same batik pattern used on the walls. A bird print ("Our low-maintenance pet," Knott says) perches in the 19th-century French cage.
Large-patterned Henriot Floral wallpaper by Quadrille in a cabin-sized guest room.
Quadrille's Les Indiennes fabric had never been printed in black until Knott recolored it to match the stripe in a guest room.
Old photos guided Knott's replacement of lost deck railings. He designed a new entrance portico using salvaged columns from upstate New York.
A restrained Shingle Style exterior belies the exuberance within.
I am positively charmed by this remote New England home, originally built in 1905 as a hotel for "rusticators" from places like Boston and Philadelphia. To learn more, click here for an interview with the designers/owners.
Happy Fourth of July!