An Eclectic Maine Cottage
A Collection of Collections
Upon entering Barbara Kurgan's Maine retreat, it's wise to give your eyes a moment to adjust. At first, everything feels comfortingly familiar, traditional even. The cottage's soothing coastal palette, primarily grayish-greens and blues, lulls you into a quiet calm. But wait: Is that ceramic bust in the living room wearing a necklace made from...golf tees? And doesn't the dining room's "rag rug" sort of resemble a Spirograph drawing? As for the fine antique English secretary anchoring one living room corner, it's packed to the gills with the kind of flea-market folk art most people call junk.
In this photo:Thank-you notes adorn an Ingo Maurer chandelier. The table — ringed by 1940s birdcage Windsor chairs — is Martha Stewart, and the rug is from Tucker Robbins. Barbara Kurgan has collected Last Supper paint-by-numbers for nearly two decades.
An Unexpected Arrangement
Lilacs, irises, and lupines invigorate a 1930s Haeger urn. The ocean scene, by Kris Ruhs, is painted onto magazine pages.
Bright Idea: A 19th-century Masonic hat and a golf-tee necklace lend levity to a formal bust.
A Place for Everything
"I've always liked piles," Kurgan explains. "I have a slag glass vessel full of 100 wishbones that I've kept. I love to see stacks of the same thing. I can't stop adding to them." She confesses to being "terribly sentimental," buying up ceramic pencil holders made by children, because "I feel bad when I see them at garage sales — people should hang on to those!" She also saves sand from her favorite beaches, storing it in glass test tubes.
In this photo: An African basket and a 19th-century amber wine vessel top a cabinet packed with curiosities — ranging from sand-filled test tubes to a log cabin bank, an old American flag to a bird's nest.
The living room's armchairs, slipcovered ottoman, and faux-suede settee are all by Mitchell Gold. The mahogany mirror above the mantel dates from 1910.
Situated in the living room, a 1920s oak secretary hosts a vignette that includes an aluminum change sorter, a papier-mâché mushroom, a scorpion puzzle, and a pair of ceramic pencil holders.
Beneath a woodcut used to make trolley-station signs, a lacquer tray and chrome butler's stand, both from West Elm, function as a bar.
"I'm not a fan of bold colors, but I love messing around with size and scale," Kurgan says. "I like putting big objects on top of delicate things."
Chenille blankets and pillows from Martha by Mail warm up 1920s Czechoslovakian sheet-metal beds.
Kurgan's bathroom boasts a circa-1900 amoeba etching; a cut-paper image of Mao Tse-tung; and a pen-and-ink drawing by a friend. Equally alluring: the cast-iron radiator from Architectural Antiques.
Bright Idea: A tall plant stand keeps bath-time necessities within easy reach.
Kurgan stationed a basswood moose head on her front porch, where she stores wood in an Ikea basket.
"When you have a lot of 'stuff,' you have to figure out how to contain it," Kurgan says. "Everything here is controlled chaos."