Stay in touch with the coast.
Sign up for our newsletter »

Friendship, Art & Commerce

New homes, new lives, new friendships forged while decorating

By Regina Cole

Photographs by Sarah Szwajkos

Rachel Ambrose (left) and Nancy Marshall (right) celebrate their careers, their friendship, and their colorful homes in Rachel’s kitchen.

Nancy Marshall’s favorite color is orange. But until recently, Maine’s self-professed “PR Maven,” a public relations professional whose client list includes, among others, the Maine Office of Tourism, the Nature Conservancy, Kennebec Savings Bank, and the Orvis Company, never thought to use it in her décor. 

“The color suits me, both physically and psychologically. I love its energy, warmth and vitality,” said Marshall, wearing an orange sweater that was a perfect foil for her auburn hair. “But, until recently, I would never have dared use such a bright color in my home or in my wardrobe. If you had asked me my favorite color, I might have said ‘navy blue.’ Embracing the colors I love is part of the new chapter I’ve begun.”

The new chapter began in 2016, when her marriage of more than 30 years ended. She decided to move to Portland, where she met Rachel Ambrose. Ambrose owns Home Remedies, a Portland store that Architectural Digest named one of “Eight Best Interior Design Stores in New England” in 2017. Her three-decades-long marriage also had ended in 2016. The two became friends, resulting in a fertile exchange of skills and insights. Today, Ambrose uses public relations and marketing savvy to grow her business, and Marshall has gorgeous orange wallpaper in her bathroom.

“We have learned so much from each other,” Ambrose said. “I am amazed at Nancy’s ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. She’s very authentic, and I use her example when it comes to networking, just as I have helped her with design decisions.”

Her friend agreed. “Besides coming to believe that I can have favorite colors and use them, one thing I’ve learned from Rachel is to think not just, ‘Oh, this is pretty,’ but also, ‘Who will use this? How?’”