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Transforming a Maine fixer-upper into a striking summer retreat

They were expats living abroad when they bought this unwinterized home in the town where he spent childhood summers.

Homeowner and designer Amanda Pratt and her youngest daughter, Lily, relax on the screened porch off the living room. photo by Amy K. Boyd; makeup by Kristen Kelly

Amanda and Jon Pratt bade farewell to Manhattan in 2010 to return to Hong Kong, where they had met and worked for years, but they wanted to plant roots stateside. The following fall, they bought a house on Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine, where Jon had spent childhood summers. Their daughters, Emilie, 11, Annabelle, 9, and Lily, 6, are now the eighth generation of Pratts to enjoy summers there. With aunts, uncles, and cousins at every turn, Amanda Pratt says, “The house gave us a sense of permanence we couldn’t have in Asia.”

The family moved to Boston in 2016, and they continue to decamp to Maine in the summer. Pratt, who launched her own design firm three years ago following a career in finance and management, finished renovating and decorating their six-bedroom shingle house last year. Although the unwinterized home was in such terrible shape that they were inclined to tear it down, the couple quickly reversed course. “We fell in love with the architectural integrity of the house,” she says.


Pratt, whose taste skews contemporary, began by painting everything white. “A blank canvas accentuated the bones and amplified the potential,” she says. It also helped create the sense of breeziness she craved, having become accustomed to the architecture of Southeast Asia, which seamlessly melds indoors and out. The challenge was how to express herself in a conservative setting. She says, “The house became a platform for my contemporary interpretation of the beach.”

She established an unexpected color scheme of pale purple and watery blues, then began filling the house with fun pieces that reflect an affinity for craftsmanship. In the entry, for example, a neon sign reading “beach” in her handwriting hangs on a wall covered in Abigail Edwards hand-drawn seascape wallpaper. Says Pratt, “I love pulling up to our house at night and seeing the fluorescent blue glow.”


In the living room, a Madeline Weinrib dhurrie provides a pretty pop of pastel against newly pickled beadboard, injecting lightheartedness and calm. Furniture is as clean-lined as it is durable. Minimalist Gervasoni Ghost sofas with white linen slipcovers (stripped and stored offseason) are no-frills but welcoming, and a trio of powder-coated metal coffee tables are equally practical. Kenneth Cobonpue’s rattan Yoda chairs, with seat backs that resemble tall grasses, lend a tropical feel. Metal artwork, including a re-edition of a Curtis Jere “Birds in Flight” wall sculpture, will still look good after it gains a patina.

French doors open onto a screened porch on the west side of the house, where the sun sets over clam flats and a path leads to the beach past a newly built playhouse. (The deep window seat on the second floor, a favorite story-time spot, enjoys the same view.) Contemporary pieces by Dedon — Pratt’s go-to outdoor furniture line — include a woven sofa as well as two lounge chairs with teak legs made cozy with seersucker cushions and pillows in globally inspired textiles. A lantern from a market in India is one of many trinkets collected on the homeowners’ travels that are sprinkled through the house.

Fully renovating the kitchen was a priority for Pratt, who attended cooking school while living in New York. The project replaced asbestos-laden linoleum, enlarged the windows over the sink to let in light and maximize the ocean view, and eliminated a wall to expand the room’s footprint. Still, the space is small, making scale and efficiency important. Counter stools tuck neatly under the Montblanc marble-topped island, and industrial-style open shelving holds tableware.


Floorboards painted Benjamin Moore Spring Violet, a subtle grayish purple, run from the kitchen to the dining room, where a vintage Madeline Weinrib rug grounds the space and sculptural George Nelson pendant lights float like clouds above. Tosca chairs from Tribu, with cushy seats of braided weather-resistant fabric, surround a Dedon dining table that expands to seat 12. “A wood table would crack over the winter,” says Pratt. “This metal one is durable and chic.”

The showstopper is the 450-pound rhinoceros-shaped bar made from old machine parts that Pratt designed for her husband. She commissioned metalworkers in Thailand to create the piece, inspired by sculptor Francois-Xavier Lalanne and a Botswana safari (the pair’s first trip together). “I love the industrial look, and that I could reinterpret old things to be beautiful, but its weight makes it incredibly difficult to move,” Pratt says. Next up are jellyfish made from copper sheets by a fabricator in Maine.

The rhino is functional and fun, and, like the much of the decor, sparks conversation. Pratt relays a recent anecdote: “Last weekend, when Jon’s dad was here for dinner, he said, ‘I never would have thought you could do contemporary in this space, but you did. I love it.’ ”


In the living room, throw pillows in a mix of patterns by Missoni Home, John Robshaw Textiles, and Roberta Roller Rabbit are among those piled on the chairs and sofa. Amy K. Boyd
A metal lily-pad wall sculpture by Curtis Jere and a photograph by Slim Aarons, Poolside in Sotogrande (1975), lend a vintage feel to the dining room. Amy K. Boyd
Above the rhinoceros-shaped bar are pieces from last year’s Maine College of Art Summer Art Sale fund-raiser, an abstract painting by Maia Snow and small encaustic works by Dietlind Vander Schaaf.Amy K. Boyd
On the screened porch, Dedon lounge chairs are constructed of durable all-weather materials. Pratt says, “The pieces are contemporary, but not so much that it’s out of place here.” Amy K. Boyd
In the kitchen, counter stools tuck under a marble-topped island, and industrial-style open shelving holds tableware. Amy K. Boyd

Marni Elyse Katz is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine.Send comments to magazine@globe.com. Get the best of the magazine’s award-winning stories and features right in your e-mail inbox every Sunday. Sign up here.