On the Harbor

A couple with a passion for entertaining balance function with design in their Rockport home
Words By Anna Mangum
Photos By Erin Little


John Priestley

When Michael Hampton and his husband, David Kantor, were looking for a home in Rockport, they had a vision of an old house with classic details and great architectural character. After looking at many homes that didn’t quite fit, Michael walked through the front door of his home-to-be and saw its architectural finesse, refined details, and captivating natural light, and he immediately knew he had found the place. All those things, and a stunning view of Rockport Harbor and the Goose River, just outside the back door.  

Michael just opened a new store in August called Hampton & Co. - Art and Antiques, conveniently located across the street in Rockport Village.

Michael and David purchased the house in 2013 and intended it to be their vacation home. At the time, it suited their needs as a secondary residence. “Every square foot had been thoughtfully designed and utilized,” Michael says of the space, originally built in 2011 for a woman hailing from California—which also happens to be Michael’s home state. “The spirit of the house is very Zen due to the minimalism of the architecture.Now tasked with the job of furnishing an empty house, Michael’s priority was to maintain its clean lines and not obstruct any of the views. He mixed pieces from quality retail sources with a few choice antiques and decorative objects, including a vintage coffee table by Kelvin LaVerne and an 18th-century armchair. “Upstairs, I have what I call my ‘console of curiosities,’” Michael says. It displays most of my favorite objects, including Regency candlesticks, a French Napoleon III clock, a sculpture by Robert Courtright, and an exquisite carved stone Chinese Buddha from the Northern Qi dynasty circa AD 550-577. It still has traces of its original paint and gilding. I can admire it for hours!”  

The French telescoping table is from Maison Meilleur in Paris.
Michael and David have a custom bedframe with custom pillows in a Rogers & Goffigon stripe.

The once D.C.-based couple was initially only able to spend a short amount of time in Maine during the summer. However, the pandemic was the paradigm shift that allowed them to live here full-time—a classic tale among many people who formerly only summered in Maine. Michael adds, “After many years of moving around in the D.C. area, as well as Santa Fe, New Mexico, we finally feel like we are home!” Their biggest challenge in making the switch to living year-round at the Rockport home was storage. Since the home was designed for a single person with a minimal aesthetic, Michael and David had to get creative with how to make space. Major changes included converting the open-air swimming pool into a garage, designing and installing a more practical vanity in the main bath, revamping the main closet, and adding shelves and drawers to open space in the office area.  

Likely the stack contains design books for Michael and books on boats, sailing, and Maine history for David.
The couple's shared work area is upstairs to create a separate space from the rest of the house.
Michael laughs, "I have a thing for canopy beds!" The wall hanging is an old cruise line prop from a local estate sale.

Keeping the clutter at bay and adding more appropriate storage helped with another lifestyle change that is a new reality to many: working from home. And, as any work-from-homer knows, success in this arena comes from having a functional and intentional workspace.  They share an office upstairs that has privacy from the rest of the house to effect the work/life divide. But of course, all work and no play is no fun. Michael and David know how to enjoy life, and their space reflects their love of hosting. They utilize all parts of their home when entertaining guests and can accommodate a decent-sized group of people. “We have the great luxury of having both an upper and lower porch, and a compact backyard where we have hosted many parties,” Michael says, “including for Bay Chamber Music School here in Rockport. It’s an organization we love and are very involved in. David is a gifted pianist!” Indoors, they have two comfortable seating areas that are versatile for entertaining. And, of course, what’s a party without food and drink? Michael enjoys whipping up dishes and cocktails for friends in their kitchen, where everything is custom-made, including the shiplap cabinets that blend seamlessly into the walls. One of David’s favorite memories at home (in addition to his and Michael’s engagement on a warm September afternoon) took place in June 2014, when they hosted a garden party for their closest friends and family. Their whole group walked to what was then Salt Water Farm restaurant, and they were married the next day at the Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel in Rockport. David says of that particularly special gathering, “That whole weekend was magical, and we were so happy to be able to show our friends and families why we love Maine so much.”  

In addition to having a space and aesthetic that meets their needs and desires, beyond their property is one of the most enchanting towns and serene water views. Located right in the center of Rockport Village, the couple is just a short walk to 18 Central Oyster Bar & Grill, Nina June, Seafolk Coffee, Ralston Gallery, and the town library.

When they aren’t working or entertaining, Michael and David enjoy walks down to the working harbor to watch the constant changes of boats and lobstermen coming and going. David, an avid boater himself, particularly loves the proximity to the harbor. He learned to sail in his mid-20s and used to teach offshore sailing at the U.S. Naval Academy 

Their location is hard to beat: Not only is the house a short walk to restaurants and shops in Rockport Village, but there is also an incredible view of the harbor and Goose River.

when living in Annapolis, MarylandNow, the couple owns their second powerboat, an Albin 28 named Duet. “One of the nicest things about our house is being able to look out the window and see our boat sitting on her mooring,” David says. The love of sailing runs deep: The books in the stack pictured are primarily about boats. With the coastal views, prime location, and Michael’s new design shop opening just across the street, their spot on the harbor iready for memories (and parties) to come.  

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