The town of Harpswell, Maine boasts 216 miles of coastline, three major islands connected by bridges, and more than 200 smaller islands. One of these larger islands, Bailey Island, is where our clients would come year after year from New Jersey to visit their seasonal family cottage. With many fond memories of summers spent in Maine, they decided to purchase a home in Harpswell close to their family cottage and make it their full-time residence. The timing was right for the couple as retirement was in sight and their excelling son would soon be off to college.
The home purchased by our clients was situated in a neighborhood we knew well, as we had completed a house there the previous year. The neighborhood provides boat access with many properties on the peninsula featuring water views of coves fed by Casco Bay. The house, a classic four-square contemporary split-level with an octagonal center skylight, featured sweeping tidal views of a small cove. Though we were compelled by the uniqueness of the home’s character, its roof structure had already failed. We explored saving the home, but with our clients’ program requirements, and a need for anticipating costs with limited variables, we decided to take advantage of the opportunities new construction presented.
Taking lessons from the existing structure on its site response, we worked with limited buildable square footage thanks to increased setbacks required by the neighborhood covenants and a bluff condition at the water’s edge. We partnered with a civil engineer who assessed the bluff and provided recommendations for its stabilization, protecting our clients’ investment in the property. The bluff’s stabilization and our proposed siting of the home were both put in front of the Town Planning Board for approval.
The determination of the lot restrictions set the course for the new design of the home. The program requirements were extensive for the active couple and included an ample two-car garage, wood shop, greenhouse, home gym, office, rec space for ping pong and movies, two bedrooms, and two-and-a-half baths. Using the angles of the buildable area, we set the garage to the north with its wood shop and its south-facing greenhouse. Similar to the prior home, one enters at mid-level so that the main level, with its spectacular views, is only half a flight of stairs away from the garage and formal entry. The primary living area at level two makes use of the mono slope roof system with high-volume space. The view of the cove demanded outdoor entertaining space with an ample deck that carefully skirted a specimen tree.
The main level includes an open-concept kitchen, living, and dining space with abundant built-ins for our clients’ travel books and collections. The hardworking pantry makes the refined open concept possible. The large amount of glass facing the view is tempered at night with floor-to-ceiling custom window coverings and an exterior louvered sun shade to prevent solar overload in the summer months. The extra deep fireplace adds a warmth to the large volume space. This level also includes the master suite to the east with a generous dressing room and a master bath that makes the most out of the morning light that makes Maine so special.
Their son’s room and secondary spaces, including the rec area, home gym, office, and laundry room, are in the walkout lower level. Radiant heat was a no-brainer at this level making the typical 55-degree basement slab comfortable in the winter months.
Making the most of a restricted property to meet the lifestyle needs of our clients is a common challenge, and one that we worked hard at here. Like their Bailey Island cottage, we hope this year-round home in coastal Maine forms a new backdrop for new memories in our clients’ next stage of life.
Project Completion Date: 2017
-Contractor: Thorner Building Corp.
-Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates
-Millworker: Seth Helie Designs
-Window Coverings: Jan Robinson Interiors