When Jonny and Susie Marshall’s four daughters grew up and left home, the large, century-old house in Portland, Maine, where the family had lived for three decades no longer suited their empty-nester needs. The couple turned to longtime friend Nicola Manganello, the creative force behind the design company Nicola’s Home in nearby Yarmouth, to build a farmhouse cottage that embraced this new stage of their life.
The Marshalls have known this designer extraordinaire since she was a child and have enjoyed watching her artistic talents develop, so it was a natural fit for them to work together. Nicola was hands on with every stage of the home-building process, from working alongside the architect and choosing materials to selecting home furnishings and fittings. “She guided me every step of the way,” Susie says. “It was a seamless project, from the architect to the contractors to the men who put in the cobblestone driveway—it was all under this great ‘Nicola umbrella.’”
Located near the Atlantic Coast in a small enclave developed by Nicola’s Home, the structure may resemble a simple Maine farmhouse on the outside, but inside it’s a breathtaking juxtaposition of old and new elements. “Susie wanted it to feel like a mountain house, so she selected very rustic finishes, like the pebble shower in the master bath and hand-scraped oak floors,” Nicola says. “They wanted great storage and amenities and, the best part, all new furniture.”
For the main level, Susie and Nicola collaborated to create a tranquil master retreat bathed in light, where birch bark-patterned wallpaper lends texture and ties the space to the surrounding woods, visible from the cozy window seat. It’s perfect for curling up with a cup of coffee and a good book. A pebble shower brings rustic yet refined style to the master bath.