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Project DetailS
Scarborough, Maine

Higgins Beach Cottage Duo

Higgins Beach Cottage DuoHiggins Beach Cottage Duo

Project Location: Scarborough, Maine

As longstanding summer visitors our clients had always desired a home of their own in this intimate beachfront neighborhood in Greater Portland, Maine. When it became available they were happy to purchase a half-acre parcel that sat one house back from the water and included two circa 1920’s cottages.

Historic neighborhood photos show the original cottages as, closely related, one-story twins. In the early 2000’s a previous homeowner significantly updated the “front cottage” with a new flood compliant foundation and second floor addition. The renovations and additions had chopped the home up into numerous small and hard to furnish spaces, while limiting views, and providing minimal connection to the outdoors. The prior updates included raising the height of the first floor above the flood-plane; which further severed any implied connection between the two cottages. Meanwhile, the barely touched “back cottage” was in dire need of significant cosmetic and structural repair.

Beyond the architectural challenges that existed, both the site and the two cottages were non-compliant with respect to current town zoning standards and recent coastal sand dune rules. As such our process toward a preferred and integrated design included a lengthy, but necessary, permitting phase. Collaborating closely with our clients, the Town of Scarborough, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, we were able to craft a site-specific design solution that met the goals of all entities.

With careful editing of existing walls and structural components we were able to provide open-plan living on the main floor of the “front cottage”. The newly configured space now serves as the “great room” for the home. Windows were enlarged, added, and arranged to provide views, abundant daylight, and natural ventilation to all interior spaces. A new master suite and carefully manipulated attic level addition provide bedrooms and bathrooms for dad, mom, and siblings. At the exterior, a covered entry porch was carved out of the existing building to provide a protected entry from the street. A false gable and rooftop deck were removed and replaced with a reconsidered one-story roof and integrated balcony that furthers curb appeal and enhances views of the ocean beyond. At the heart of the site, the “front cottage” connects to a new covered porch and open-air shower at the reconstructed and elevated “back cottage” via a wood deck and outdoor dining space. The “back cottage” interior provides a mudroom, laundry, sitting area, loft, bedrooms, bathroom, and a welcoming cottage aesthetic for visiting family and friends.

Exterior materials that have long been a durable mainstay in coastal New England, along with locally resourced interior finishes, further connect the property to this tightly-knit community. The newly implemented landscape design dramatically reduces the amount of asphalt on the site while offering space for more sustainable native plants and dune grasses.

In the words of our client, the duo-cottages now better connect with, “tradition, family, and fun … to me that is inherent to Higgins Beach”.

Project Completion Date: 2015


Jonathan Reece


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