Tour Nicola Manganello’s Maine Home

August 17, 2023

Nicola Manganello opens up a dark eighteenth-century parsonage in coastal Maine.

Text by Jorge S. Arango    Photography by Liz Daly, Jeff Roberts, and William Waldron

In the beginning, there were chickens.

“The oldest part of the house is from 1771,” explains designer Nicola Manganello of the home she moved into six years ago in Yarmouth, Maine, “and there were mules and chickens on the property when I got here!”

She had known there would be of course. As a lifelong resident of the town, Manganello often passed this home and barn (where the animals lived). “In high school, my humanities class held a scavenger hunt that began at the round stone in the wall of the property,” she recalls. She’d spent a lifetime fantasizing about residing there.

Today the livestock is gone. But so are the dark interiors dictated by eighteenth-century building methods, which local minister Tristram Gilman employed when he erected the original structure. With only a fireplace or woodstove, ceilings had to be low and windows small to prevent heat from escaping.

Various expansions followed but without really addressing the interior gloom. In 1905, none other than John Calvin Stevens—the era’s most famous local architect—installed brick fireplaces and, sometime before his death in 1940, returned to design an addition. Another 1990 renovation tacked on a front entrance porch, a further addition, and a covered deck out back. At that time, the 3,500-square-foot circa-1790 barn was also moved further away from the house. (Today, it houses Nicola’s Home, Manganello’s namesake design studio.)

Manganello’s revamp two years ago, however, proved transformative. “The house is traditional,” she concedes. “But since I was spending the money to renovate it, I wanted it to be cleaner.” When she first moved in, she had opened up the front, creating a more graceful entry hall. Now, she gutted the Stevens addition and rerouted some stairs, yielding an expansive open floor plan anchored by the kitchen. “I entertain a lot, and this is where everyone ends up,” she says. “That’s why double islands were important.”

To flood spaces with natural light, Manganello says, “We brought in Marvin sliders and large windows over the kitchen counters, and we took the cover off the back deck.” On the wall opposite, a new three-season screened porch achieves more gracious proportions and further amplifies light. Finally, she appended a two-car garage and reworked its connection to the main house. Square footage for the four-bedroom home tops out at just under 5,000.

Inside, she remembers, “There was a lot of plaster and paint. So, we replaced it with V-groove and painted everything white.” Manganello then complemented the brightened interiors with light woods and a pale upholstery palette. “Somehow, I’ve evolved into loving pink,” she says with some surprise. “In Maine, everyone likes blue-and-white or beige-beige-beige, so I’m playing with a different tone.”

The blush shades, however, are soft rather than hot, and Manganello mixed them with Swedish Gustavian-style and Danish Modern-style furniture. “I love the simplicity of Scandinavian design,” she says. “But I like it in traditional settings. I think that juxtaposition is very interesting.”

Manganello also took a unique approach to upholstery. For instance, she deployed an old tablecloth on Shaker-style host chairs in the dining room and quilts from her bedding line for Garnet Hill on a few armchairs.
Finishing textural touches add palpable warmth. “I’m a sucker for anything woven,” she confesses. “There’s a craftsmanship to it that adds to a space. And with all the fabrics in here, something more earthy needed to happen.” Hence the abundant presence of bamboo, rattan, basketry, and cord.

Reverend Gilman might not have dug the pink, but he surely would have appreciated the enhanced comfort and light.

Additional Architectural Design, Interior Design, Builder, Landscape Design: Nicola’s Home

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