tale of the unexpected
Collaborating with her daughter on the renovation of this 19th-century farmhouse took Candace Karu out of her comfort zone – and she is delighted with the result
A pared-back decor, exposed beams and a statement fireplace are perfectly in keeping with this inviting farmhouse in Maine
When Candace Karu asked her interior designer daughter, Tyler, for help renovating a farmhouse near the ocean in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, she admits to being a little nervous about a mother-daughter collaboration. ‘Throughout Tyler’s childhood, her father and I developed residential properties, so she grew up on our sites, but this was our first project together,’ she explains. ‘My style is eccentric and quirky whereas hers is spare and clean. I did wonder if we might clash!’
Candace need not have worried. The quirky touches still abound but Tyler also coaxed her mother out of her comfort zone – and Candace is delighted with the result. ‘There are things in this house that I never would have chosen, and yet they are now some of my favourite features,’ she says.
The decision to move to the farmhouse was prompted by a need to downscale: the
large home in which Tyler and her brother grew up had become too big for Candace and she wanted a property that required less maintenance. What sold her on the farmhouse was its location: ‘It is in a beautiful spot, across the road from a large working farm,’ she says.
The house had endured what Candace describes as ‘generations of bad restorations and additions’, and so it required a brave approach. ‘I worked with architect Caleb Johnson and he took the building back to the
FAVOURITE ROOM ‘My kitchen is the heart and soul of this house. The island serves as my office, prep space and dining area’
stud walls to return to the original layout, albeit with some modern updates.’ One of these changes is the kitchen, formerly three small rooms that have been knocked together. As a food writer, Candace often creates cookery videos, and so the vast island is an essential feature. ‘ We used quartz and timber worktops to designate the preparation and eating areas,’ she says.
The much grander proportions of Candace’s former house meant that most of her furniture wouldn’t suit the farmhouse, and she hosted a barn sale in order to pare back her possessions. ‘I kept a lot of decorative pieces,’ she says. Some of her most treasured artworks are in the dining room, many of which are by her mother, Jean Pilk, a renowned portrait artist.
There are several new items of furniture that have been inspired by the origins of the house, such as the distressed cupboard doors of the island unit and the steel-topped table, a modern take on a farm-style trestle design. There are also many nods to the nearby ocean: plates decorated with fish and pendant lights made from glass and rope.
This is a home that weaves together treasured pieces, contemporary designs and traditional ideas with a twist, and Candace has only praise for her daughter’s input. ‘I credit Tyler with knowing me well enough to recognise what would work for me – I think that’s the mark of a good designer.’
DINING ROOM The walls are decorated with a collection of marine-themed plates, which reference the nearby ocean, and a display of portraits, most of which are by Candace’s mother, Jean Pilk. Richard Bramble sells a selection of fish and shellfish plates, from £9.95 each. Try globe rope pendant lights, £85 each, Unique’s Co at Notonthehighstreet.com
KITCHEN Antique beams salvaged from a remote barn juxtapose strikingly with an industrial steel support. For a similar kitchen, try the Classic English Kitchen, price on request, devol. Cherner stools in walnut, £865 each, The Conran Shop DI S T INCT IVE home truths
THE PROPERTY Farmhouse, built in 1850 LOCATION Cape Elizabeth, Maine ROOMS Kitchen-diner, sitting room, dining room, office, utility room, dog room, boot room, cloakroom, three bedrooms (one en suite), bathroom PURCHASED 2014 PREVIOUS PROPERTY ‘Before I bought this farmhouse, I lived in a six-bedroom property by the ocean,’ says Candace.
SITTING ROOM A fireplace surround made with stones collected from the beach in front of Candace’s former home forms an arresting feature. Wallography sells vintage wall charts, from £65 each. For a similar chair, try the Flump, from £745, Loaf
MASTER BEDROOM A striking metal bed flanked by a pair of brass pendants sets the tone in this eclectic space. Sama lights, from £90 each, Moroccan bazaar, have the look of these
CLOAKROOM Warm metals and patterned wallpaper add a luxurious touch. Double-walled copper basin, £ 450, Copperfield baths, is comparable
BATHROOM An old Victorian dresser proves a quirky vanity unit. For similar hexagonal tiles, try glass Source in grappa, £90sq m, Solus Ceramics