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Best of Maine: Home and Garden

Publisher Partner DownEast Magazine

We periodically publish content from DownEast Magazine, The Magazine of Maine. Dedicated to evoking and illuminating the spirit and culture of Maine at its best.

The Trustiest Tools. The Funkiest Flourishes. The Most Fun Places to Buy Them.

Building Supplies on the Cheap

Maine Building Materials Exchange

Sure, you can count on finding screaming deals on things like doors, windows, fixtures, roofing materials, plumbing, furniture, and more in the 14,400-square-foot warehouse that is the Maine Building Materials Exchange. But what’s more is that the nonprofit makes sure these items are available to everyone, regardless of income, with a unique, sliding-scale pricing and a membership scheme that’s helped keep home upkeep affordable in Maine for over 25 years. Intrepid redecorators will find treasures among the vast inventory — mostly new and mostly donated from companies and contractors — and the reuse ethic keeps building materials out of landfills. A true homegrown alternative to the big box stores. 102 Lisbon Rd., Lisbon. 207-636-7670.

Year-Round Flea Market

Portland Flea-For-All

With three jam-packed floors of vintage clothing, furniture, handmade wares, art, and so much more, “the flea” is organized chaos, as all proper flea markets should be. The difference here is a space filled with carefully curated pieces and consignors, handpicked by owners Nathaniel Baldwin and Erin Kiley. It’s everything you love about flea markets, without having to do the digging yourself. The selection runs the gamut, from midcentury desks and fainting couches to kitschy kitchenwares, bikes, records, and the best selection of vintage clothing in the city. The space also hosts popular events like Flea Bites, where people can eat from their favorite food trucks while shelf-surfing. 125 Kennebec St., Portland. 207-370-7570.


Belfast Bay Shade Company

Printmaker Dina Petrillo’s gardens are the source of the botanical motifs that elevate her lampshades to works of art. The shades are made with kozo papers, whose durable bark fibers interact with etching ink to gorgeously hued results. Each printed shade is one of a kind. “We feel they make an important connection to our friends who are farmers,” Petrillo says. “We’re celebrating place and land and plants.” 1 Franklin St., Belfast. 207-735-8237.

Hand Tool Revival

Snow & Nealley, Hudson Bay Axe

There are beefier axes out there for full-on lumberjacks, and there are sexier ones with cherry handles and higher price tags, but for a light-duty, all-purpose axe that can split small logs for the woodstove, come along camping, and keep its edge, Snow & Nealley’s entry is solid. What’s more, it’s a classic Maine brand enjoying a renaissance since the company’s 40-employee facility in Bangor closed in 2003. The brand limped along for a few years with a skeleton staff in brewer until Chris Hilty’s family bought it in 2012. The Amish family moved the business to Smyrna, where they originally tempered and heat-treated axe heads forged overseas. Snow & Nealley has now transitioned to operating using 100% American-made materials. 800-933-6642.

Outdoor Art

Decorate your garden with one of these handmade crafts.

Schools of Fish

Let Tyson Weiss’s enchanting ceramic koi, trout, and salmon swim among your fountain grass and Siberian irises. You’ll imagine you’re at the bottom of the sea. Fish in the Garden, Falmouth.

Maine License Plate Birdhouses

David and Cheryl Sherwood give old Maine license plates new life as shelter for our feathered friends. Supply your own retired plate or tell them what you’d like. Pine Tree Birdhouses, Vassalboro.

Twig Structures

Woolwich artist Susan Perrine weaves twigs into dreamy arbors, huts, and trellises on which vines climb and in which you find solitude.

Excerpted with permission from the July 2014 issue of Down East magazine.

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