Interior designer Tyler Karu and her husband, Brendan, are year-rounders in a tiny coastal community peppered with summertime visitors — and Karu, a Maine native, would not have it any other way. “Our house seems really Maine to me. Believe it or not, walking across the beach by our house gets me feel Maine in my spirit,” she says. The designer expresses her connectedness to the place by sprinkling her home with components from her and her husband’s history — and of course, filling each room in the house with nautical tokens that evoke the rhythms of the sea.
in a Glance
Who lives here: Tyler Karu, Brendan Ready and their dog, Haddock
Location: Prouts Neck, Scarborough, Maine
Size: 1,700 square feet
A vintage life preserver and a fishing escape hang on a post by the dining area, a symbol of the way the homeowners’ lives are attached to the goings-on by the docks. Dinners are punctuated by the crashing of the waves surrounding.
“The brutal winters make the summer and drop that much more enjoyable for us year-rounders who live here,” says Karu.
In the living room, Karu tempered the formality of a gray tufted sectional by layering in splashy throws, pillow cloths and a striped custom-upholstered wingback chair. The bamboo dividers and chevron-pattern jute rug add heat into this light-filled location.
Sectional: Bludot; rug: Serena & Lily; lamps: Portland Architectural Salvage; wingback: Hudson’s Bay
The corner reading corner theme is Maine nautical matches ’70s glam — a fantastic example of Karu’s penchant for unique pairings. The designer uttered the rocking chair in the family home; the glass ball is a vintage fishing float, a nod to the house’s coastal context and her husband’s seafood enterprise.
Fishing float: Portland Architectural Salvage
A vintage cabinet in the dining room homes serving pieces. Some are family heirlooms; a few are collected from flea markets as well as from Target. The white skull, by artist John White, was a present from an aunt.
The kitchen island is made of an old railway cart. Karu added the pub extension after bringing the cart indoors, so the whole block no longer fits through some of the doors.
A look through the kitchen window reveals a garden within walking distance of the beach. “It’s always a wonderful sight to see friends and family relaxing in the living room or totally wiped out in the guest room after a complete day at the beach,” says Karu.
A portrait of the family’s beloved Brussels Griffon, Haddock, with a Maine Art College student hangs above the muse and version within an antique settee.
Art: Laura Alexander
The guest room, dubbed “Haddock’s Room,” strikes a nautical note using its navy blue partitions. “This chamber is where Haddock hangs out. He sits on the bed or side chair and watches folks come and go from the window,” says Karu.
Leon Levonstein, Karu’s great-uncle, was a urban photographer. “Some of these framed photographs are his, such as the small one of my father as a young boy,” says Karu.
Other framed photographs are from Karu and her husband’s wedding. The print is by illustrator Hugo Guinness.
The couple’s bed frame is a piece from Karu’s childhood; the wood detail on the bed resembles both a compass rose and a ship’s wheel. Even though the bed frame and the throw pillow evoke a nautical theme, plantation shutters, an antique Persian rug and vintage bedside tables lend the room an eclectic touch.
Art: Gary Copeland; seat: Calypso Home; side tables: eBay; wall paint: Ice Cube Silver, Benjamin Moore
A captain’s mirror above a refurbished vanity which has been abandoned in the garage pulls the eye — but look closer in the master bath and you’ll see a less obvious piece that conjures up that boat-on-the-dock texture: cleats from a marine supply shop that Karu utilizes to hold her bangles.
Wall paint: Smoke Embers, Benjamin Moore
The next guest room stays flexible with twin beds out of Karu’s husband’s childhood.
Wall paint: Steep Cliff Gray, Benjamin Moore
The designer called Manhattan home; she pays homage to the Big Apple with a framed subway map print by Triboro Design that leans against the wall. She dressed her home office table using an old Williams Sonoma duvet cover.
“Although I feel more productive in my Portland office [about 7 kilometers off], I am a lot more creative in this room in your home,” says Karu.
After Karu and her husband moved into their beach cottage, they set the goal of restoring its original appearance and texture. “We inherited a home that has been reeling from a few dated renovations, and we have been chipping away at it gradually ever since,” says Karu.
Dip a Toe Into Modern Nautical Style