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“140 Years of Interior Trends”: The Waldoboro Inn Opens in Maine

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“140 Years of Interior Trends”: The Waldoboro Inn Opens in Maine

October 27, 2023

My design aesthetic was forged in the world of fashion,” writes Alexa Stark. I’ve been a champion of up-cycling and re-purposing from the day I graduated.”

Alexa is writing to us from Waldoboro, Maine, where she quietly opened an eclectic, lovingly hand-done inn and wine bar this summer. “Though I’m ‘from away'”—she went to the Parsons School of Design, then lived in Portland, Oregon for a long stretch—”I had been an active member of the Waldoboro community for 33 years, taking part in local theater summer productions at the Waldo Theater, teaching workshops, and volunteering at the annual bean suppers,” Alexa writes. “During the height of the pandemic I moved to Maine full time and turned most of my attention to the Midcoast community, taking a job with Oyster River Winegrowers while keeping a toe in my fashion line” (have a peek at that here).

So Alexa was familiar with the 1880 Italianate mansion in Waldoboro’s small downtown—she’d driven by many times—and when she saw it posted for sale, she knew she’d, somehow, be opening an inn. “When I first walked through the doors I felt ease. It just felt right.” She brought in friends Nathan Reimer and Danielle Lombari, who she’d met in the Pacific Northwest. “We talked about it nonstop for a week, and after bringing my father Eric Stark, into the conversation, we put in our offer.”

The next eight months (“and counting,” Alexa adds) was a whirlwind of renovations both massive and tiny. “It needed a new roof, two new bathrooms, heat pumps, wallpaper removal in the main stairwell, and ten fresh painted rooms,” according to Alexa. “High Seas Builders and artist Santa Wolanczyk were a great help, and luckily between us owners we could do a lot of the build out ourselves.”

Not to mention all of the hand-done details: hand-painted wallpaper, window coverings infused with family history, and re-done furniture inspired Alexa’s work in fashion, just to name a few.

Join us for a look around.

Photography by Nola Logan, courtesy of The Waldoboro Inn.

alexa and her pup, henri, outside the inn. the inn and attached wine bar, ida&a 17
Above: Alexa and her pup, Henri, outside the inn. The inn and attached wine bar, Ida’s, have already become a destination for the community and design lovers in the know. (When I stopped by on a Monday night a few weeks ago, Ida’s was full to brimming with diners for a pop-up dinner.)
&#8\2\20;the inn is an italianate mansion built in \1880 by captain john b. 18
Above: “The Inn is an Italianate mansion built in 1880 by Captain John B. Stahl, one of Waldoboro’s illustrious ship captains who sailed the coast, bringing timber, granite, and ice to ports south,” Alexa writes. “In 1920 the house was converted to a twenty-room boarding house and tavern by his son and daughter-in-law. Stahl’s Tavern closed in the mid-sixties, and the house was bought by Waldoboro’s pharmacist, becoming something of a community hub.” Fast forward to October 2022, and Alexa and her crew became the fourth owners of the house, giving it life for 2023. 
the downstairs sitting room is one of several common spaces on the main floor.  19
Above: The downstairs sitting room is one of several common spaces on the main floor. “The aesthetic of the inn is a collaboration between myself and my father, Eric Stark,” Alexa writes. “He was a contemporary art dealer in New York for 20 years and then the curator of the art collection at The New School, before he started an interior design business blending contemporary art and European and American post-revolutionary furniture (from 1800-1960).”
alexa and co. preserved the bright yellow wallpaper in the front room, which da 20
Above: Alexa and co. preserved the bright yellow wallpaper in the front room, which dates to the years the house was owned by the town pharmacist. “I think it’s from the 1970s,” Alexa writes. “I kept saying to myself, ‘This house has lived through 140 years of interior trends. I must highlight the good parts; whether it’s 1880s parquet floors or 1970s wallpaper, it all has its place in this home.” 
the kitchen is open to overnight guests, with make yourself breakfasts and mix  21
Above: The kitchen is open to overnight guests, with make-yourself breakfasts and mix-and-match serveware. “A lot of the furniture and textiles throughout were collected by my grandmothers on both my Greek and French sides,” Alexa writes. “Any gaps we had after installing our personal items were filled with things found at the Thomaston Auction House, Cabot Mills antique mall, yard sales, and local thrift stores.” 
there&#8\2\17;s a rotating array of breakfast pastries on offer—thes 22
Above: There’s a rotating array of breakfast pastries on offer—these are by our friend Marjory Sweet of Double Grazie (see: Marjory Sweet in Maine: The ‘Farm Lunch’ Author Starts a New Chapter in a ‘Ghostly’ New England Rental).

Above L: A passageway on the first floor sports jaunty stripes freehanded by Alexa herself. “It took me two days,” she says. “I plan on adding more hand-painted wallpaper in future rooms.” Above R: The windows are hung with handkerchiefs-turned-curtains. “Every piece of fabric in the inn, whether it’s used for upholstery or for curtains, has come from deadstock or from my grandmothers’ repurposed clothing or from household goods such as table linens, scarfs, and old denim. The result is something nostalgic while at the same time both contemporary and aesthetically pleasing.”

there are currently three guest rooms open, and each has a personality of its o 25
Above: There are currently three guest rooms open, and each has a personality of its own. Room One, shown here, has an original fireplace and cheerful painted floors.
room three is a mix of classic new england (braided rugs, rakes as display) wit 26
Above: Room Three is a mix of classic New England (braided rugs, rakes as display) with a twist: a graffiti-ed settee by Alexa. “When I reupholstered it, I thought it need something contemporary to juxtapose the post-Revolutionary craftsmanship,” she writes. “So I used the method of airbrushing I use to bring vintage clothing new life in my fashion line.”
the moody bathroom in room three. 27
Above: The moody bathroom in Room Three.
scarves as window covering. &#8\2\20;both my grandmothers were collectors o 28
Above: Scarves as window covering. “Both my grandmothers were collectors of fabrics,” Alexa writes. “My Yiayai in particular had a love of scarves and handkerchiefs. For years I held on to hundreds of them, not knowing what these could be, and then one day I thought: What if I made these into curtains? It was an aha moment. I never used them for my fashion designs because I never wanted to cut them, and making them into curtains I didn’t have to, which felt important to me.”
room five. &#8\2\20;the art in the inn comes primarily from my father&# 29
Above: Room Five. “The art in the inn comes primarily from my father’s collection—mostly artists he either represented or worked with over the years, including James Turrell, Winston Roeth, Richard Serra, Agnes Denes, Nan Goldin, and Frank Gerritz,” Alexa writes.
alexa and co. are also hosting artist residencies, with hopes that visiting cre 30
Above: Alexa and co. are also hosting artist residencies, with hopes that visiting creatives will leave a mark on the inn. A recent visitor, Jackson Joyce, painted a mural on the walls of the bathroom in Room Five.
ida&#8\2\17;s, the wine bar, is housed in the former carriage house in warm 31
Above: Ida’s, the wine bar, is housed in the former carriage house in warm weather and in the common areas of the inn when the weather turns cold. It’s named for Ida Stahl, the daughter-in-law of the seafaring captain who built the house.
&#8\2\20;the furniture in ida’s was a collaboration i did with furni 32
Above: “The furniture in Ida’s was a collaboration I did with furniture designer Gregory Beson,” Alexa writes. “We had met after his residency at Haystack Mountain School of Craft where he started to develop a line of approachably priced outdoor furniture. He only had a bench at that time, and after seeing it I knew I wanted it.”

“When I told him I was opening an inn with my friends and father he asked ifw e could collaborate on furniture. I think I said YES before he even finished his sentence. He proposed this project to his students from his Parsons chair design course, hoping someone would be interested in interning, and so many applied within the day. We ended up with three incredible interns to help bust out the whole collection within a week.”

the project of updating the inn continues, alexa says. &#8\2\20;we did as m 33
Above: The project of updating the inn continues, Alexa says. “We did as much as we could before opening this season and plan on continuing this winter, though we aren’t in a rush. We want to do the remaining five rooms slowly. Our first push was to get open, and now that we are, we’re taking our time responding to our guests’ needs and the natural flow through the space.”

For more, including upcoming events and pop-ups, head to The Waldoboro Inn.

And for more places in Maine we love, see:

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