tucked away on a side street in a small community thriving with artists and creative folk, is a sweet little bungalow owned by Caren-Marie Michel, painter and master gardener. she graciously welcomed me into her sweet home bursting with color and character, gave me a tour, fed me snacks and offered good conversation. enjoy the tour!
How long have you lived in this home?
We have lived here since 1981, 33 years.
What is the history of the house?
The house has always been in my husbands mother's family, built in 1923, the year his mother was born. His family was one of the first French Canadian families to move to this side of the Presumpscot River in Westbrook.
What kind of renovations have you done to it?
Completely renovated everything except the 1960's aluminum siding and sunporch windows. We are even starting to do second time around renovations now! We just did our second roof and heating system, oil to natural gas. All electrical and plumbing systems. Converted an unfinished attic to a master suite adding a bath and home office/small studio/art storage with four skylights. Replaced all the windows, added a deck. Completely new kitchen, local carpenter built cabinets. Renovated first floor bath with the original claw foot tub. Refinished the hardwood floors twice. Went from a large lawn with no plantings to no lawn, garden everywhere with a bluestone patio. This summer will be redoing the the front porch trim and some interior and exterior painting. We just painted our downstairs bath Poppy Red, a fun color!
What is your favorite part of the home?
That's tough, the kitchen has great light, layout and color. The skylights in the master suite are wonderful, and of course our two studios.
How has your home evolved over the years in terms of your style?
Interior colors have gone from all whites to brights! Fresh Cut Grass, Poppy Red, Mandarin Orange... all Benjamin Moore. And the studio/art spaces keep taking over more and more of this small bungalow!
Your amazing garden has been curated by your husband. Do you both have some favorite trees or perennials?
We both share in the planning, but he does all the work! We were both Master Gardeners. We love our 30 year old weeping Red Jade crab apple, Fred has done a wonderful job pruning the tree, it looks great in the snow with lights. Hostas, Hemerocallis, Boulevard Cypress, Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, Japanese Tree Peonies. We make many of our plant choices with his future photographs in mind. His plant pics are at https://www.flickr.com/photos/horticultural_art/
How is it to live and work out of the same place? Do you it enjoy it?
We like it, but it is always a challenge, convenient for me to work all night painting, but it's very easy to become distracted! His work comes directly from the garden to become his plant still lifes, timing is very important. Art storage is hard at home., it's everywhere! Studio visitors do enjoy seeing the work in a home setting.