Coastal Cottage offers Modern Retreat
Owners: Chantal and Michael Jennings
Size: 1200 square feet
Architect: Elizabeth Jennings
Location: Schoodic Peninsula, Maine
Interior Design: Chantal and Michael Jennings
Furniture: Thos. Moser
The moment you turn down the nearly 1/2 mile private driveway to the Jennings cottage, you know you are about to experience something magical. Cut through old–growth forests, the driveway winds through coastal pines draped in usnea. The harsh, coastal weather has stunted and twisted the jack pines to look like meticulously pruned and trained bonsai. The forest floor is covered in lush green mosses, and massive granite boulders left behind from receding glaciers dot the landscape. The drive ends on a ledge of pink granite with sweeping views of the Atlantic ocean and the protected entrance to the harbor. The Jennings have left this unique property as intact as the day they purchased it almost 37 years ago.
Finding an artist colony in down east Maine
The property was once owned by California watercolor artist Barse Miller. Drawn by the rugged shores that occupy this area, Mr. Miller established his small summer artist colony, Rangemark. Here he hosted numerous watercolor workshops until he died in 1973. This place offered solace, beauty, fair winds for sailing, and an opportunity to paint en plein air.
When the Jennings purchased the property in 1983, the land and views were breathtaking, but the buildings were nothing more than a dilapidated main house, a tiny bunkhouse, and a horse shed. Years later, they found themselves with the arduous task of demolition and hauling away the all–but–abandoned property before they could begin breaking ground on the new site for the cottage.
View Former Artist Colony and Demolition
View Installation and Build of the Cottage
A daughter’s designs
Elizabeth Jennings’s goal was to create the small escape her parents envisioned. Her initial design had clean, modern lines. She wanted to create a minimal home that retained much of the “New England” charm while not competing with the land. Her design included cedar shakes, copper flashing, and a standing seam copper roof. Elizabeth added weather-related adaptations: overhangs, a covered entryway, and a slate-floored entrance that would accommodate muddy boots and wet paws.
The open layout of the interior invites intimate dinner parties. The large southern-facing windows provide plenty of ambient light. When it came time to set Elizabeth’s design into motion, her parents turned to Bensonwood in New Hampshire.
From day one, Chantal and Michael were involved in every aspect of construction and the finish details of the cottage. They chose the house site, guided construction trucks up and down the driveway, hauled rocks for the foundation and landscaping, chose fixtures, assisted the finish carpenter, and designed custom cabinets.
An interior inspired by Thos. Moser furniture
primary bedroom and bath
To the far left of the cottage are the master bedroom and bath. Here the early morning light greets each day with a view of the entrance to the harbor and the ocean. The furniture in the bedroom includes one of the first Pencil Post bed designs from Moser. Chantal wanted an uncluttered and calming bedroom. On either side of the bed, the nightstands are simple Minimus Tables built by Chantal at a Customer-In-Residence program. In the corner of the room sits an Aria Chair Michael completed during his Thos. Moser Customer-In-Residence program. The Jennings chose the light salmon upholstery to reflect the color of the granite boulders and shoreline. The primary bath, set behind the bedroom, features custom cabinetry, a compact washer and dryer, and a beautiful river stone shower.
The small yet well-equipped kitchen has a stunning waterfall island crafted by Sheldon Slate Company of Monson, Maine. Chantal wanted the space to be easy to work in, allow for conversation, comfortable daily meals, and polished enough for a cocktail party. The carefully thought-out cabinet layout allows for fluid movement throughout the kitchen and houses everything a cook needs. The small dishwasher, combination microwave/oven, and induction range are energy efficient. The island’s Auburn Stools are from Thos. Moser.
living and dining area
The main living space is unobstructed by walls and creates a welcoming space for guests. There is even a secret loft for their grandchildren, complete with a porthole. A Harvest Table accompanied by six early Fanback Chairs, a predecessor to our Catena chairs, were Chantal and Michael’s first Moser purchases in 1981. Chantal points out, “I wouldn’t trade the table or chairs for anything. I raised my children at that table, and we’ve shared many meals and conversations here. That table is a part of our family’s history.”
The beautiful antique Marblehead pond yacht was a housewarming gift from Mary and Tom Moser. The vintage yacht, hanging on the wall over the fireplace, links land and sea.
The floors and ceilings, inspired by Moser, are crafted of ash. Michael recalls, “When the Moser’s had their first showroom in Portland, Maine, the floors were ash.” He remembers how he loved the way the cherry furniture stood out on the light ash floors. Chantal and Michael wanted to incorporate this warmth into the interior of the new cottage.
The Jennings find the cottage liberating. Its small size and beautiful furnishings free up time to enjoy the surrounding area. Elizabeth is delighted that her parents are so happy with their little coastal retreat.
“The furniture is a testament to good design; it looks as stylish and modern today as the day we bought it.” Chantal says, “It showcases the versatility of Moser’s designs. An upholstered sofa pairs beautifully in the same room with the Vita Chairs, Harvest Table, and Auburn Stools. The designs go with anything, and each piece has a timeless quality.“
Hiking on the single-file trails along the hidden coves of their property, it’s clear that family, friends, sustainability, and caring for their community are of the utmost importance to the Jennings. From curating a collection of furniture to building a sustainable, unobtrusive home, with a deep appreciation for all things beautifully made, is what brought this family, the Moser’s, and their little cottage on the rocky Maine coast together nearly 40 years ago.
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