We love sharing stories from the road. Far-flung adventures to stoke your curiosity and inspire you to find your Outerknown. Our first of the new year is a special one. As we’re all still hunkering down and living local, we wanted to share the story of a family inspiring us to make the most of our surroundings. Along the cool, craggy coast of Maine, the LaVecchias are living in sync with nature. In a home warmed by the sun, fed by what their land offers, and inspired by the natural world to create; Molly is a gardener/landscaper and Nick is one of our favorite New England photographers, who, for a rare moment, is on the other side of the lens, captured here by our good buddy Mikey DeTemple.
We caught up with Molly and Nick to talk about the beauty of living simply and appreciating what’s right in front of you…
These are some strange times. What’s been keeping your family healthy and looking ahead these past few months?
Molly: We have been very lucky that our lives did not have to be drastically altered. We both are self-employed and work jobs that keep us outside and able to distance if need be. Our son (age 6) had to make the most changes in regards to school, but we really have embraced homeschool and alternative curriculums. We also lean hard into nature and spend many days walking the beaches and wood trails that are around us. We have also made sure to keep connections with friends and family through Zoom or outdoor meetups.
Nick: Strange indeed, I’ll echo what Molly said. Luckily we live in a place and live a lifestyle that hasn’t been too drastically affected. Time at home, in the yard, in the garden, at the beach, and in the woods is all part of everyday life. We’ve been able to maintain that, with some subtle changes, of course. This past year has really made it clear that time at home with family and friends will always be top priority.
Nick, what brought you to Maine, and what’s something about York that’s unlike anywhere else?
N: The coastline and surfing are what brought me and my brother Mike to Maine from Vermont. We had been coming to surf here in York for years before we decided to trade the mountain life and snowboarding for a life closer to the ocean. York offers a quiet off-season life, with easy access to all ocean activities, as well as plenty of space to roam the woods and make some turns on the back hills.
What’s so great about the surf community of the northeast?
N: For me, it’s a much quieter and less competitive environment. Most people are out to truly enjoy time in the ocean, riding waves, and trading stories. The community is tight and friendly.
What’s a common thread throughout your photography? Has your style evolved?
N: I think the most common thread is nature in general, with the ocean and seasonal change being a focus. I love being out and shooting the winter months, when it’s raw and coldest. Watching the environment transform into a place closer resembling the Arctic. This is what gets me excited to go out and create new work. Lately, I’ve been pulled hard towards the subtle beauty of everyday life around home. The scenes and moments that generally go unnoticed.
Your home seems to be an extension of your values. What are some of your favorite elements?
M: For me, it would have to be the tight envelope and the orientation of the house. We have a high concentration of windows facing south that maximize solar gain on our concrete floor. There can be days in the winter where it is 30 degrees, sunny, and snowy outside, and indoors we are at a comfortable 68 without any heat on. Plus, having big windows allows us to feel like there is a very little border between us and the outdoors.
N: Similar for me, I love that all of the thought and work we put into creating a small and efficient space has worked out far and beyond what we could have imagined. To live in a space that is primarily running from the sun is pretty amazing. We get the majority of our heat and electricity from the sun, while the design of the house truly feels like we are just sitting out in the field, separated by a wall of glass.
Molly, can you fill us in on your garden creations and what you’ve been growing at home?
M: In my work, I have properties with all types of gardens, from English cottage style, modern minimal plantings, and formal displays. At my own home, I try to keep my gardening more simple and functional. We have a large vegetable garden right off our deck. It really is an extension of our living space. I can easily run out while cooking and gather ingredients or build recipes. More importantly, Leo can freely go in and out of it and eat whatever he finds. Since he was a baby, he has loved being eye level with tomatoes, reaching for snap peas and green beans trellised over his head or pulling the green tops of carrots to discover what has grown underground. It is a competition between him and our dog Charlie who can get the most carrots; I rarely have any left to bring inside.
We also have a large cut flower garden where we make bouquets throughout the season and watch the pollinators busy at work. We can see the hummingbirds flit in and out, notice the monarchs on their migration, and watch the bees fly back and forth to the hives my dad keeps on the property. For years he has had hives in the lower part of our field, some years with great success, others with swarming colonies or harsh winters. It is always great to help him introduce new colonies, check and remove full frames and extract the honey; it’s usually a family affair with my sisters, niece, and nephews all helping out. Now that a Maine winter has settled in, all my gardens have been tucked in for a long nap. We have plenty of houseplants to keep something green nearby and me busy, but spring is always a welcome sight.
What’s an environmental issue on your minds as of late?
M: Living in the northeast and seeing the reliance on fossil fuels (oil) to keep places warm and functioning has always been mind-blowing. Now that we have seen how a subtle shift in mindset and building techniques can lead to a cleaner way of life, we are committed to sharing our experience and helping others make more educated decisions. With the amount of new construction happening, we can only hope people will turn a corner and start to think differently about their living environment. Ask questions and challenge yourself, your town, your architect etc.
Layering is crucial to getting through fall and winter in the northeast. Any Outerknown pieces coming in handy?
N: The Blanket Shirt and Hooded Puffer are the two most used pieces in my closet this fall/winter. Comfortable, sustainable, and designed to be well worn. I think that goes for both of us.