Touring the Moody, Stylish Portland Home of Evangeline Linens’ Founder
From disco balls to taxidermy, the house’s decor is as eclectic as it is cool.
When you walk into their home, you can’t help but appreciate Ben Ray and Ali Malone’s eye for design. Tucked into a quiet neighborhood just off Brighton Avenue in Portland, their 1904 John Howard Stevens–designed house is the perfect canvas to highlight their years of searching flea markets, scrolling through Craigslist, and supporting local artists. Built in 1904, this house was one of the first solo projects by the son of architect John Calvin Stevens. This early home from the younger Stevens caught the attention of trendsetters at the time, when in 1911 the dining room built-in was featured in House Beautiful magazine.
Ray and Malone purchased the home in 2016, when Malone was eight months pregnant with their middle child. Even with a new baby on the way, they immediately set out to update the home while still appreciating the canvas they were working with. They brightened up rooms, expanded the mudroom, and turned awkward closets into bookshelves to display their extensive collection of books and oddities they have collected over the years. Their biggest renovation was the primary bedroom and bath, which they opened up and modernized to become their place of refuge. The home already had mature gardens, so they cleaned them up and added a patio to make the area more family-friendly and to entertain friends. Sitting on their patio around their Preway fireplace has become one of their favorite ways to spend time.
A native Mainer and lifelong entrepreneur, Ray learned to sail at a young age, and through high school and college he rescued and refurbished sailboats as his summer job. After attending college for journalism at University of Maine, Ray headed West to San Francisco for six years and worked for Maine-based textile and furniture brand Angela Adams and French lighting designer Objet Insolite before returning to Maine in 2008. In 2018, using his years of experience, Ray launched the textile brand he had always wanted to create, Evangeline Linens. The brand has products in over 300 retailers and in boutique hotels, including the Press Hotel, and has garnered mentions in O magazine, Elle Decor, and Martha Stewart Living.
This spring the textile company, which is named after the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow epic about a young girl searching for her lost love, opened its first retail storefront, in Portland’s Old Port. Stepping inside the store, Evangeline Linens Studio, is meant to feel like an extension of their home, Ray says. “I designed it to be dark and moody—a theme that always resonates with the Evangeline product and photography. I like the skulls and taxidermy and zebra pelts and old things that are different in form,” he says. “Currently I’ve been obsessing over collecting antique hip flasks from the early 1900s and vintage pottery.” The store is filled with Evangeline blankets and throws, along with iconic midcentury furniture, foraged objects, home goods, and art that are all also for sale.
Ray and Malone have put just as much thought into the new studio as they have into their home, including choosing the storefront. “We love historic buildings, like our John Howard Stevens home, so when 332 Fore Street became available, we jumped on it,” Ray says. “The space already oozed that Portland vibe with exposed brick, beams, and rickety floors, but we are transforming it to ‘Evangeline Moody.’” The Samuel Butts House, where the studio is located, dates back to at least 1792, according to the Portland Historical Society. “It’s the second oldest surviving structure on the Portland peninsula, fittingly behind Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s home on Congress Street, whom Evangeline Linens was named after,” Ray says.
Each morning before work, the whole family—Ray, Malone, and their three children—like to start their day in the living room. The adults wake up with their morning coffee as the kids enjoy glasses of milk. Ray and Malone read the newspaper while the kids play. A gold disco ball chases the sun as it moves across the room, bathing the walls in flecks of light. “We toss on a record, and the kids will dance. We don’t have a TV in the living room, so there are no distractions—it’s just a space to be together,” Ray says. “One of the things that makes me feel most fortunate is that, since we work from home, we don’t have a crazy rush in the mornings, and we can spend time as a family.”