The Ferguson’s found their four acres of heaven in Yarmouth, Maine. Resplendent with towering pines and verdant landscapes, they worked with local interior design firm Nicola’s Home to create a three-bedroom contemporary coastal farmhouse that offered first-floor living with plenty of room to entertain and spaces that captured both their personalities.Read More
Home Owners: Elizabeth and Stelios Theofanidis
Interior Designer: Alexandra Theofanidis, Studio Alpha Interiors
Architects: Graham Architects and Richard Moody & Sons Construction
Location: Kennebunkport, Maine
At the beginning of 2020, we all took a step back. We paused, reassessed, and headed into an unforeseeable future. Interior designer Alex Theofanidis took this time to step back nearly 50 years to begin redesigning her future.
In the 1950s, Alex’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Greece to pursue their medical studies and begin a new life. They worked incredibly hard and ultimately made a comfortable life for themselves in Connecticut. In the early 1970s, they began looking for a vacation home on Cape Cod. However, years before, her grandfather had obtained his medical license in Maine and had always wanted to return. They traveled to Kennebunkport and immediately fell in love with the Maine coastline.
Alex’s grandmother, an astute observer, was the force behind purchasing the oceanfront condo. Seeing the location, she found the developer and handed him a check. When he told her the place was not for sale, she said, ‘Call me when you change your mind.’ A few months later, the development went under, and that is how they landed their seaside getaway and where Alex’s story and our interview about redesigning her generational summer home began.
What was it like redesigning a generational beach home?
Did you have any Pushback from family members?
The greatest challenge of redesigning the home, from my experience, was the pressure I put on myself for everything to be perfect. Of course. I have this pressure with every project I work on, but it’s different when you’re looking for the ‘Wow!” reaction and approval from your entire family. Thankfully, we don’t have a huge family, so I didn’t have to field a lot of opinions. Luckily, I understood what the space needed from years of observation, which gave me a good foundation for my vision for the project. But they say your parents will be your most challenging clients, which couldn’t be more accurate.
What were some of the “Must-Haves” for the renovation?
We had a few years to think through what was necessary for this renovation before construction started, so the list of must-haves was quite long. It ranged from completely opening the entire first floor to installing the Toto Neorest in the primary bath. Since the project was a complete gut redesign, there was an unlimited amount of possibility of what we could do with the space. This, of course, was incredibly exciting for me.
As the designer, my must-haves evolved around designing fully custom millwork throughout the project, from creating a chef’s kitchen to fully optimizing the use of each space. As our family grows, maximizing the number of beds also falls under that category, which is why we knocked down walls on the 3rd floor and vaulted the ceiling to create a multi-use bunkroom floor for all ages.
“I have known Thos. Moser furniture before I even entered the world of interior design. I have always admired the craftsmanship, attention to detail, and respect for natural wood. My goal for every project I have in Maine or New England is that there is a Thos. Moser piece because I believe the designs evoke a true essence of New England style.”
Why was it essential for you to celebrate Maine craftspeople with your furnishings?
I find that an essential part of my role as a designer is to celebrate local artisans and styles of any project’s location. I find it quite lucky to have projects in Maine because it’s not hard to find incredibly talented local craftspeople.
Ultimately, I’m fortunate that I’m able to celebrate Thos. Moser’s incredible design and craftsmanship in this project. Thos. Moser furniture was a must-have when developing the furniture package for this project. It was initially a lot of back and forth with what pieces we wanted to go with. I knew I wanted the Wishbone Table and the Bowback Stools from the get-go because of their simplistic design and true craftsmanship. It wasn’t until we visited the showroom in Freeport that we added the Pencil Post Bed, the Ellipse Lounge Chair, and Ottoman. I wish we could have added more to the order, but there was a budget I needed to abide by.
The dining room features the Wishbone Table and Cumberland Chair in walnut.
What is your favorite room in the home?
The sunroom is one of my favorite rooms in the home. Initially, my parents wanted to knock down the wall between the living room and the sunroom to create one large room. I forcefully pushed back on that and suggested glazing the wall with upper windows and a French door to optimize the views but create a functional space for someone to watch TV in the living room and another person to relax and read a book in the sunroom on the Thos. Moser Ellipse chairs as they gaze onto the vast Atlantic Ocean.
The Ellipse Lounge Chair and Ottoman in cherry.
What is your fondest memory of being at the beach house?
I have so many fond memories that it’s hard to choose one. However, the one I’ll share is more of a sensory memory than a story. It’s of my grandfather cooking in the 1970s dark, inefficient kitchen on the yellow enamel appliances that the home used to have. He wasn’t that amazing of a cook, and he worked so much that he didn’t cook that often, but it filled the home with so much warmth and love when he did. My one goal is to replicate that spirit with the new space. And I only hope both my grandparents would be proud of what I created from their investment.
The capstone of Alex’s design was to celebrate the home with a custom newel post, created by Kyle James, at the foot of the stairs. Her goal was to create a design that was simple yet timeless. When she started discussing the approach during construction with the project manager, he suggested looking into applying a mortgage button to the top of the post. She immediately fell in love with the idea. They had ‘1973’ inscribed on the button to commemorate the year her grandparents purchased the home. Of course, the mortgage is well paid off on the home, but it felt important to her to create a symbol of appreciation so that future generations can understand the history of their little house by the sea.