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by Ann Cameron Siegal

ROOMS WITH A VIEW: Creating a Dream Home on the Coast of Maine

Credits: Photography by Alex Beatty Photo styling by Barbara Bent Hamilton

Two empty nesters, working with what they describe as a crackerjack team of local craftsmen, created a recipe for the perfect dream house on Maine’s Southern Coast.

They took one knockout location, sifted together well-thought out visions of how to make the house fit the setting, and tossed in a willingness to listen to and learn from each other. Then, they sweetened the pot with a floorplan flexible enough to adapt to a family’s changing needs and interests through the years.

Oh, and they also added a heap of patience.

Called to the Coast
The path to this dream house actually began 40 years ago. While poking in and out of coves along the rugged coast, the couple stumbled upon a breathtaking, undeveloped site. After the inevitable exclamation of “Wouldn’t it be great to live here,” they moved on, but never forgot that moment.

Then, five years ago, an ad for some waterview acreage rekindled the dream, and by the description, they knew exactly where the parcel was.

Purchase made, their number one priority was to create a house that was a framework for the view, with no distractions. The colors and textures outside were what the homeowners wanted to use inside.

Weather-oriented people who enjoy watching rain, snow, and fog, almost as much as they love watching the abundant wildlife native to the area, this couple says that having views from front to back, and everything in between, guided their design. No construction or decorating detail interferes with the view.

Designing for the View
To meld practicality with their vision of the finished product, they called on the design and engineering expertise of Classic Post & Beam of York, Maine (www.classicpostandbeam.com) and the meticulous attention to detail provided by builder Clayton E. Child Jr. of White Cap, Inc. in Kennebunk.

Classic Post & Beam, an operation of Northeastern Log Homes, Inc. was founded in 1985. While having numerous stock home and barn designs, designers at Classic Post & Beam encourage clients to bring their own ideas to the table or to rely on the company’s plans as springboard.

This particular coastal setting, although awe-inspiring, did present some logistical and spatial challenges. Classic Post & Beam worked closely with the couple to stage deliveries of the entire home package on a “just in time” basis with each shipment arriving precisely as it was needed.

Spruce and pine were used in the framework. Six-by-six posts, beams, and purlins or ceiling beams, milled in Classic Post & Beam’s manufacturing facility in Kenduskeag, Maine eliminated the need for interior load-bearing walls while allowing for lofty ceilings and large expanses of glass.

Once the timber frame was up, the home grew from the inside out, starting with a massive stone central fireplace touting a chimney that extends up through the ridge vent and anchors the traffic pattern. All interior work was done by hand on site.

The fireplace’s granite stones look natural, as if you picked them up off the ground and put them in place.

The fireplace’s granite stones look natural, as if you picked them up off the ground and put them in place. Working for six months, the stonemason achieved the dry, mortar-less look by surrounding the flue with cinder block, and then covering that with stones anchored at the back with mortar.

The Perfect Mix
Throughout the house, a choreographed balancing act is evident as rooms are weighted proportionally with materials used. That’s why the massive fireplace works so well. With an opening that allows for a view two stories up, the result is grand but personal. A balustered railing on the second floor tempers the opening so it is not visually overwhelming.

The first floor is completely open except for a media room separated by a wall of glazed pocket doors so that T.V. noise is isolated from conversations taking place in the main living area.

The effort to minimize distractions within the home extended to lighting design. It was important for the owners not to see numerous big light fixtures. To achieve this goal, a combination of recessed and track lighting was selected throughout This not only provides a more natural illumination, but also allows for more flexibility in room arrangement and use.

There is room for the grandchildren to push doll carriages or ride their little toy cars, and there are tucked-away nooks for reading. The private office above the garage has enough separation from the living areas to allow for a psychological transition between work and home. The media room can easily become a first floor bedroom if needed, because of a conveniently located nearby bathroom.

Balance is further enhanced through the use of various textures and paint. For example, the third floor loft’s plaster walls and owners’ suite were painted a soothing off-white to carry out the cottage theme. Hand-pegged red oak floors and exposed eastern white pine posts throughout complement a kitchen graced with natural granite counter tops, cherry cabinets and soft matte, ceramic tiles with weathered edges. Together, they all gently guide the eyes from the interior to the wonderland outside.

Tucked in the “L” formed by the rear of the house and the garage, is a screened porch with a sundeck on top, both situated so as to provide sanctuary from cold ocean breezes and Maine’s biting insects.

Solid Andersen casement windows were chosen as the best for letting in the view, maximizing airflow on hot days and keeping out the cold. Likewise Andersen Frenchwood Doors are included in the Classic’s complete home package.

Further weatherproofing was achieved by layering the exterior western red cedar shingles with a five-inch exposure. “Many builders use an eight to ten-inch exposure,” Clayton Child says, noting that while it may be cheaper in the long run, that technique “…lacks an older traditional look.”

To get the salt-washed, weathered exterior the couple wanted, the siding was painted with Cabot Bleaching Oil stain, which protects it from the elements while accelerating even weathering.

Five years from conception to completion and only three years old, the house has settled in nicely, looking as though it has always belonged amid the oaks and shagbark hickory trees.


©2005 Ann Cameron Siegal

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