Drift off to coastal Maine and float through a summery reverie with Cora Hilts, co-founder and CEO of Rêve En Vert. Cora sat down to tell us about her journey sustainably renovating an old farmhouse in her childhood hometown with her husband (and lab puppy, Peggy!). Get ready for romantic ocean views, crisp white linens, wild flower fields, and all the details about how Cora styles her Nini Bed, Voya Tables, and Kaydan Chair. Let's dive in!
Q: Hi, Cora! Could you give us an introduction? (Tell us a bit about you, your background, your family?)
I am the co-founder and CEO of Rêve En Vert, a platform for elevated sustainable living that I started in London after studying environmental development. After almost two decades of living abroad in Paris and the UK, my husband and I moved back to my childhood hometown on the coast of Maine last year to sustainably renovate an old farmhouse here and try our hand at regenerative agriculture, rewilding and looking into what a consciously curated home really looks like!
Q: Let's hear about your beautiful Maine home. What has your moving and restoration process been like?
It’s been a slow process but I am happy to say a very thoughtful one. We decided to postpone any real renovations we want to do in favor of getting the house fitted out with as many sustainable solutions as possible. For us, getting heat pumps, an electric water heater, an EV charging station, etc. have been all the year 1 steps. Other than that, we have been investing in a few pieces we know will work in the house for years to come, like our Medley furniture!
Q: What's a typical day for you like?
I wake up around 6:30 am here in Maine as our bedroom very luckily looks out onto the water and you get the sunrise coming up over it around that time…it’s so beautiful I can’t help but wake up then! I then go and make a coffee with my husband, take our puppy Peggy for a walk and sit down to emails in the UK. I fit in some yoga or pilates as a break around 11am. Then I have been learning to make lunch and dinner from scratch a lot more here, so after work days I would say that cooking with a glass of wine is something that brings me a lot of joy and a way to wind down naturally after a long day of work since I now operate between London and LA time zones with Rêve En Vert! Bedtime is around 10pm with a good book.
Q: How would you describe your design aesthetic, and how do you cultivate it?
I would say I am very lucky in that my husband and I are very mid-century inspired, but we love the idea of keeping things reflective of traditional coastal Maine design. We have invested in a lot of design books and also found quite a few images of our house from the late 1800s and early 1900s that are dictating how we want to execute the overall renovation. I love pieces that look luxurious but also very liveable…I never want our house to feel like somewhere you can’t get comfortable! Our palette has been very earthy, using mostly creams and greens and browns with hints of colour through art and decor.
Q: What was your approach when you started designing your home? Did anything change from your original vision for the space?
Absolutely! We came here thinking we wanted the whole house to be open plan, very much like our old flat in London, but quickly realised the beauty of various rooms that make up an old farmhouse historically. I think the biggest mistake people make is renovating too quickly because it doesn’t allow the house to give you time to learn about it….especially with these old houses that have so much history behind them. We really want to honour what the house has been and just add more contemporary elements for ease. Our next big project will be the kitchen where we will be putting back in an old wood burning stove but then updating with slate, marble and reclaimed wood!
Q: Do you have a favorite room in the house, and if, so, what makes it your favorite? How does this room reflect you/your family/hobbies?
I think my favourite room is the sunroom where we have put the beautiful Voya Table….given it’s all glass out to the ocean you can sit here with a coffee, glass of wine or small date night meal for my husband and I and enjoy the view from the comfort inside (very precious in the cold Maine winters!). I think this room is really reflective of how much we want the house to absorb the nature from outside to bring into the fold of our design.
Pictured: Voya Round Dining Table in Walnut wood
I had done a lot of research on sustainable furniture companies and you guys were consistently one of the best for both design and ethics! We have always loved walnut as a wood, and so the Voya Tables were a no brainer. They also brought in some of the vibe of the mid-century design we love.
Pictured: Nini Bed
The Nini Bed in the white boucle type fabric was the dream find for our guest room as we were working with low ceilings but wanted something that was beautiful and made with fabric to offset the wood floors. That bed has had more compliments than anything else in the whole house - our guests absolutely love sleeping in it.
Pictured: Kaydan Chair
In our den we have the Kaydan leather chair against this beautiful moss green paint from Backdrop - I absolutely love that colour combination.
Pictured: Kaydan Chair
Pictured: Kaydan Chair
Additionally you get views of the ocean from right outside so it’s a very special visual blend to me.
Q: What's another favorite object in your home?
It’s a multitude of objects but I would have to say the artwork…a lot of it came from my uncle who sadly passed away last year and having his favorite pieces on our walls keeps him close. Also my husband bought me a piece of work I had had my eye on for months for my birthday and it now hangs on my side of our bed…I love waking up and looking at it every morning.
Q: What’s a silly memory you’ve made in the house?
Since we got our English Black Lab puppy Peggy I would say all of the absurd baby talk happening is up there in silliness…
Q: How about a very favorite memory in the house?
The first night we moved in actually…my husband and I had wine and a takeaway pizza on the floor next to the old fireplace and wondered what the hell we were doing in a farmhouse on the coast of Maine in a snowstorm. It felt like the beginning of something exciting and it has been.
Q: Any recent or upcoming projects in your home you'd like to share?
This upcoming Spring we are going to be working on curating a sustainable patio and new herb gardens actually inspired by those outside of the French Laundry…I am in the midst of finding reclaimed bricks and stones for the landscaping, and looking at finding vintage wicker pieces. My husband Jamie is going to make me a large reclaimed wood dining table that will sit in front of the ocean. My parents own a landscaping company and will be helping make it all happen, with my mother aiding me in finding local native plants to place around everything. I can’t wait for that to come to fruition for summer dinner parties and cookouts with hopefully most of our produce now coming from our own land.
Q: If you could sum up the feeling of your home in a few words, which would you choose?
Well this is what I -hope- it feels like….thoughtful, natural and full of love.