After spending childhood summers on nearby Capitol Island, our client was looking for a quaint rustic cottage by the sea within one of the area’s summer colonies. As soon as she saw this bright red little cottage, she knew it was the one.

When purchased, the cottage lacked a proper entry, was dark inside without a lot of natural light, and had a tiny kitchen that was hidden from the living area. A modest addition created this bright and sunny kitchen… natural woodwork selected to maintain the original style offers a striking contrast with the white custom cabinetry.

A kitchen island, just off the new entry to the living room, is carefully married to the custom stone fireplace. A large monolithic piece of granite acts as a cornerstone between these two spaces. A stone pops out to create a shelf; another is set in as a display niche.

The fireplace becomes a second focal point in the living area, competing only with the water views. Two stones were hand-carved for the owners, who have special ties to both Maine and Georgia.

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In addition to a new foundation, wiring, plumbing, new roof and siding, the entire house received fresh coats of paint or varnish. The owners decorating style perfectly complements the old Maine cottage: a rustic bureau with crystal knobs (recovered from an original built-in), a rattan and metal basket turned light shade.

Several years after the renovation of the cottage was complete, the homeowner decided to take on a new project: converting the empty crawl-space below the structure into a bunkroom. With an expanding family and a need for more beds, the ledge and dirt covered quarters below was the perfect spot. Nonetheless, the undertaking was fraught with challenges. The room would need to be built onto the grading ledge, which dictated both the depth and headroom, as well as the layout and configuration of the beds. The high moisture environment had to be addressed and the rock completely sealed to prevent stormwater runoff. The beds required being built around the irregular post layout, and the existing electrical panel and exposed wiring to the cottage above needed to stay in its current locations, yet be concealed while remaining accessible.  After several iterations back and forth, the resulting design was able to rectify all of these issues. In turn, the bunkroom is characterized by a large open gathering space with a pair of bunk beds, a twin and queen “berth”, and a full bathroom at one end.

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The goal for the interior of the bunkroom was to incorporate design elements that were reflective of the cottage above, while also bringing in a distinctive and casual nautical flair with bright pops of color. The existing ceiling with exposed joists was cleaned and treated with a dark stain to mimic the deep tones upstairs. Random-width nickel gap covers the walls; painted a creamy white to lighten up the narrow space. Open caged surface mounts bring an industrial feel, while the floral area rug serves to soften the room. LVT flooring, in a rustic-looking wood finish, was incorporated for its durability and performance in high moisture environments. The existing electrical panel was concealed behind a shaker style cabinet door to the right of the custom porthole window. Additionally, dark brown woven wood shades were specified to create blackout sleeping conditions at night, and sleek baseboard heaters were integrated to help keep the space toasty during Maine’s cooler summer months.

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knickerbocker-group-project-maine-cottage-bunkhouse

knickerbocker-group-project-maine-cottage-bunkhouse

knickerbocker-group-project-maine-cottage-bunkhouse

Each sleeping area is equipped with open shelving and charging outlets, as well as task lighting that can be controlled from within each bed. A double-caged industrial sconce illuminates the queen quarters, and an antique bronze oversized boat cleat is used as a grab bar to facilitate entering both the queen and twin berths. Salvaged glass insulators act as the newel caps on the bunk ladder and add a whimsical vintage feel.

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The bunk beds run perpendicular to the entry while the two berths were built lengthwise onto the ledge with steps up to access them. The twin berth resides behind the custom porthole window with the queen stacked behind it. The sleeping quarters were designed to imitate that on a ship, with each space feeling enclosed and intimate. Whimsical buoys were found at a local antique shop and flank the porthole. The dark wood accents were carried onto the steps, ladder rungs, and the frame of the porthole to provide contrast and draw attention to those features.

The porthole element was incorporated for many reasons. Not only does it heighten the seaside aesthetic, it serves to open the thick twin berth wall allowing for views to the water from that area. A 1920’s style nautical sconce and pop of blue can be seen through the porthole on the accent wall of the berth. Built-in drawers were designed to provide added storage within the tight layout. They are deep, extending 20” until the ledge begins, taking full advantage of all available space. A large closet also sits adjacent to the queen berth.

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knickerbocker-group-project-maine-cottage-bunkhouse

knickerbocker-group-project-maine-cottage-bunkhouse

The previous space was dark and tight-quartered, with only two small windows. Therefore, an imperative objective at the beginning of the design process was to bring openness and light in, as well as embrace more of the ocean views. The addition of four large casement windows, the same style as those in the cottage, did just that. Because the exterior walls beneath the cottage were canted, it made creating plumb interior surfaces and window detailing difficult. It did however allow for creative and quirky solutions in the form of built-in storage and nooks. The asymmetry adds to the endearing campy feel of the room, and while it may appear unintentional, it was carefully planned as such.

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knickerbocker-group-project-maine-cottage-bunkhouse

The full bathroom sits at the opposite end of the bunkroom from the entry, and is split into two spaces for flexibility and maximum usability. A sink room is separated from the shower and water closet by pocket doors to conserve space. The custom vanity was built specifically for the large washroom sink the homeowner found on Etsy, and is painted Newburyport Blue. The random-width nickel gap continues on the walls, as do the nautical accents throughout.

With the restoration work complete, relaxed cottage living begins—collecting treasures on the beach, reading in the hammock, drinks on the porch, evenings around the fireplace, “basqueing in the sun”.

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knickerbocker-group-project-maine-cottage