A Study in Wallpaper at Goose Rocks

With wallpaper, antiques, and a careful eye for modern updates, Liz Robinson created a playful Goose Rocks hideout for the ages
Words By Michael Colbert
Photos By Maura McEvoy
ArchitectJohn Buckley Architecture|BuilderBowley Builders|Interior DesignerMia Carta Design|CabinetmakerDerek Preble

When in 2021 Liz Robinson met Jeanne, the owner of a home on Goose Rocks Beach, she found powerful insight into the direction of the home when their masks came off at lunch: Jeanne was wearing bright red lipstick.

“As I’m getting to know my clients, through conversation or looking at images together, it’s like tuning into an old-fashioned radio,” said Liz. “I’ve got this dial, and I’m trying to figure out where they are. What’s the wavelength?”

With a coat of Farrow & Ball Blue Ground paint, the dry sink became a playful bar for the dining area.
For Jeanne, wallpaper brings joyful self-expression into a home. Upstairs, they didn’t shy away from vibrant patterns to channel the surrounding beauty of Goose Rocks Beach.
Jeanne’s brother-in-law hand-crafted the steel windows that overlook the dining room.

When Jeanne first conceptualized her vacation home in Kennebunkport, she’d described a muted, airy, coastal aesthetic, but their meeting provided Liz with new perspec tive on Jeanne’s bold taste. Given Jeanne’s deep love for patterns and wallpaper, Liz developed a new design vision: incorporating dynamic patterns and colors into the home.

“Wallpaper allows you to bring so much personality, feeling, and emotion to a room,” said Jeanne. “It’s a really great way, I think, to bring in a sense of joy.”

Schoolhouse fixtures and antique wooden furniture invite guests to unwind in timeless simplicity.

While they decided to paint the rooms downstairs, upstairs they incorporated wallpaper in inventive ways. A soft blue wallpaper reaches high up the cathedral ceilings of the guest room. One wall of an upstairs living area uses a pattern with rich blues and soft reds that depicts birds in tree branches, inviting you to peer through the second-story window and onto the trees.

Liz selected Colefax and Fowler “Bowood” wallpaper, a classic English pattern of cream and florals, for the primary bath, where it resides playfully alongside a contemporary soaking tub, antique stool, and another shade of blue-green on the trim.

The home’s eaves transformed into a delightful reading hideaway, outfitted with Moroccan pillows, a colorful rug, and record player.
A bright custom cabinet by Derek Preble, based on an antique precedent, pops in this contemporary bathroom.

“We could have matched the green of the wallpaper, but I thought this was more interesting,” said Liz. “Maybe this trim was painted at a later time, giving it that sense of history.”

Throughout their collaboration, Liz and Jeanne looked carefully at the home’s bones and identified opportunities for its new life. One of the homeown er’s favorite spaces is in the children’s room. During the remodeling, they opened up a lofted storage space, attached a ladder, and created a hideout furnished with Moroccan rugs and pillows for a cozy afternoon indoors. The space feels like the most peaceful treehouse, a wonderful nook to stumble upon.

Classic linens and brass fixtures balance the bold, forest pattern of the bedroom wallpaper.
An antique bench and modern tile set the tone in the entryway.

Such blending of old and new, playful and classic, unified the home. For both Liz and Jeanne, it was important to design the home in dialogue with Goose Rocks. Jeanne wanted the home to be of the woods surrounding it, and Liz saw an opportunity to make the house feel like it had been part of this seaside community for decades.

“When you go to Goose Rocks, there’s a 1960s vibe with lots of single-story beach cottages,” said Liz. Whenever she and her husband visit, they look out for new construction, holding their breath that some of the older homes might still be standing. She finds that the neighborhood has a classic, summer-in-Maine feeling, something she hopes is not lost to time.

Pale blue tempest-themed wallpaper brings serenity to the guest bedroom.
Hidden sea creatures in the wallpaper ask visitors to pause and take a peek.

“It’s really a special place,” she said. “There’s a general store. There’s a little community center that has tennis courts and a communal area that hosts ice cream socials and a 5K race. Being there really feels like a throwback to another time.”

While the house required some updating, Liz identified accents to make it feel lived-in. Jeanne is an avid antique collector, and throughout the design process she found pieces that fit beautifully into the living space, like an old draper’s table they cut down to make a coffee table, or a dry sink they painted with Farrow & Ball’s “Blue Ground” and repurposed as a bar for the dining area.

A thoughtful pairing of blue and orange tones makes this bedroom coastal and woodsy.
Goose Rocks Beach occupies a special place in Liz’s heart—she honored the history in the home’s design.

“We talked a lot about patina, choosing materials that wouldn’t go out of style, but would age,” said Jeanne. Throughout the home, they selected brass fixtures, leather accents, marble and soapstone countertops, and tile that will mature and grow rich with age. When the family isn’t using the home, they rent it out, and they were careful to select materials that are durable and will stand the test of time.

Though one of Jeanne’s favorite spaces in the home is the children’s room hideaway, there’s no need to climb the ladder to find a retreat within the house. The Goose Rocks home is suffused with a sense of serenity.

“I wanted certain parts of the house to feel serene, but I also wanted to have fun with it,” said Jeanne. “I wanted it to be this happy place that we will come to. If you look at each room—with the wallpaper, the color, the materials—everything has to do with nature and bringing nature inside the house.”

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