Across the Pond

A longtime family camp in Buxton gets a DIY high-style upgrade, complete with gold wallpaper, pop art prints, and sliding glass to bring the outside in

Two days after Laura and Simon Bindloss got engaged on the shores of Bonny Eagle Pond in Buxton, they “flew to opposite corners of the earth” (as Laura puts it). Simon was headed back to London, where he worked in finance, and Laura was moving to New York City to start the next phase in her career. The pair had met in London, but when Laura’s visa ran out, they knew that the separation they were about to undergo would test any relationship, even one as happy as theirs. Fortunately, Laura says, “Simon didn’t care. He had already bought an engagement ring. He knew he wanted to make it work—that’s a testament to him. He’s a planner.” She had no idea the proposal was coming. “I never in a million years would have thought that was the moment he’d pick, but romance got the better of him.”

Simon got down on one knee on a rocky ledge just a few feet away from the pinescented waters of the pond. As Laura’s father looked on in approval from the deck of their old Maine camp, Simon popped the question. After she said yes, they popped a bottle of champagne and celebrated as the sun went down, casting a festive rosy hue over the waist-deep waters of Bonny Eagle.

Things have changed since that happy evening. Laura’s father has passed away, and the couple no longer needs to buy plane tickets before embarking on a date night. Now they live together in New York City, where Laura runs Nylon Consulting, a public relations firm for luxury brands, and Simon works in renewable energy at Wavelength Lighting. The camp has changed, too. It’s chicer and more stylish, but it still feels like home to this intercontinental couple, who purchased it from Laura’s mother in 2017.

Simon and Laura didn’t want to change too much about the house—after all, it is filled with memories, and the structure itself was perfectly functional. However, they decided to get rid of a lot of the “granny stuff,” as Simon puts it. “We carted away maybe 15 carloads of old things,” he says. “But we tried to keep a lot, like this wood box that we turned into a television stand.” The downstairs living room, dining room, and kitchen area saw the bulk of the couple’s renovation work. Before they purchased the house, it had dark wood kitchen cabinetry, lots of knotty pine, a huge cast-iron stove in the middle of the living space, and heavy wood furniture that hadn’t been moved in years. They decided to rework the layout of the semi-open-concept room, removing the stove to create space for a breakfast bar, sanding and painting the kitchen cabinets to create a lighter overall feel, and bringing in new rugs and furniture sourced from Laura’s client list.

The result is a sunny, modern living room with a white-painted brick fireplace, a cheerful ikat blue and white rug, an L-shaped sofa bed tucked into the corner, and a bright yellow armchair that adds a vivid pop of color. Laura also used leafprint fabric from one of her clients, Ferrick Mason, to cover the living room ottoman and add another pattern into the playful space. “We chose all the colors in the room based on that fabric,” she explains.

The kitchen has been updated to feature a long blonde-wood breakfast bar with highback black bar stools, sophisticated green cabinetry, sky blue walls, and a collection of framed watercolors painted by Simon’s mother. They also knocked down part of the front wall and installed a glass sliding door to create a seamless transition from the living room and dining space onto the deck. “We really spend most of our time here out on the deck anyway,” Simon says.

“The first summer we owned the place didn’t feel like too much of a holiday, since we spent every weekend driving up, going to Home Depot, and painting everything,” says Simon. Fortunately, the couple didn’t need to do much to the upstairs bedrooms— Laura knew that a few quarts of paint, carefully chosen wallpaper, and some new textiles would work wonders. “The cool thing about our house is that it’s an extreme juxtaposition of high and low,” Laura says. “We have wallpaper from de Gournay and pieces from Ikea.” They covered the drab, faded pink of the bedroom walls with coats of white and blue paint and brought in modern geometric patterned textiles to freshen up the beds. In their bedroom, Laura wanted to showcase a particularly striking gold chinoiserie wallpaper that is covered with whimsical paintings of rosebushes and songbirds (hand-painted in China by the artisans at de Gournay). It’s one of those quirky design decisions that almost shouldn’t work—shiny gold paper in a Maine camp?—yet somehow it does. “Laura has a real eye for interior design,” says her husband. Plus, Laura adds, “That room can feel a bit dark, and the gilded wallpaper really picks up the light and brightens it up.”

Although their home base is 300 miles away, Simon and Laura come up to Maine as often as possible. “For me, Maine is what a summer holiday should be: near a lake, lowkey, and relaxing,” says Simon. They spend their days floating on the water, visiting Snell Family Farm for fresh produce, cooking on the porch, and enjoying the occasional dinner out at MK Kitchen in Gorham. They play on the rope swing at Salmon Falls, Simon trains for triathlons in his downtime, and Laura likes to go fishing for pike. “One time she used a Jordan’s hot dog as bait and managed to catch a reasonably large fish,” Simon says with a laugh.

The house is their escape from everyday life, and in the past five years, Maine has become their place, just as it was for Laura’s parents and grandparents. When asked if she would ever consider a vacation home closer to New York City, Laura is vehement. “We’ll never sell this house,” she says. “Never. It’s been in my family for too long. There’s a part of my grandmother’s soul in this house, and there’s a part of my dad here, too. And the fact that it’s where we got engaged? That makes it all the more special.”