The clients, a couple from the Northeast with two young children, had frequently discussed building a home from the ground up, but thought it was something they would take on later in life. As fate would have it, the opportunity came much sooner than expected. Unable to find a home that met their needs, they asked Knickerbocker Group to assist in selecting the right property. During their first visit to an 8-acre overgrown, woodlot in Cumberland Foreside, it was difficult for them to visualize its potential. Knickerbocker Group provided the vision and excitement which helped paint the whole picture for them, and also devised a way to split the property to make the project more affordable.
One of the homeowners grew up in a beautiful farmhouse in New Hampshire, and she had always been drawn to that simple, rustic aesthetic. “Our style is casual and a bit eclectic,” she states, and “we like pretty timeless pieces with some pops of color or interest. Our decorating blends some older pieces (the Hoosier cabinet in the dining room was made by my great-great grandfather) with some newer classics.” In the living room, deep barn reds bounce off neutrals, heightened by an elegant oriental rug. The custom fireplace acts as a central gathering space, made bold by large hand-selected pieces of granite. Throughout the house, the furnishings simply accentuate all the natural architectural details that were incorporated into each space.
The vintage transom windows throughout the house, as well as the newel post on the main stairwell, were discovered at Portland Architectural Salvage. The newel post holds particular significance to the homeowner; she explains that “it meant a lot because it’s an almost exact match to the newel post in our old house. It was hard for us giving up the home we loved and had thought we would spend a lot more time in, so taking some key elements from it felt really good.” She was also heavily drawn to the bannister; while constructed from new wood, it is reminiscent of the bannister in the home she grew up in, which she describes as having a “wonderfully aged patina.” Now every time someone runs their hands up it, the clients “like to think they are creating a patina that will look and feel wonderful when this house is an old house.”
The home is filled with memorable design features, many of them “found”. The beams were hard to come by, as they needed to be long enough to span the entire length of the living room. The antique pine beams were eventually recovered from a dilapidated barn in Friendship, Maine; the crown molding was then scribed to meet the beams. Their texture, finish, and irregular character give the space a sort of old world charm, as if these beams have lived many lives before this home.
Another unique attribute of the home is its outdoor kitchen and living space; the fireplace opens into both the family room inside the house, as well as into the screened-in porch. The design grew out of beloved features from the clients’ previous home, but reworked for better usability this time around. The second kitchen adds convenience, and allows for the family to spend more time outside. Furthermore, the fireplace, along with glass paneling to replace the screens, makes the porch space usable for the majority of the year. “I think some of our favorite days are weekends when we wake up, make pancakes, get plants at the nursery and work and play outside all day with the kids”, states the homeowner. “The perfect end to the day is grilling and eating outside, just enjoying the house and the land.”
Across the way, the homeowner uses the peaceful studio to create custom and handmade princess dresses for her retail shop. The wide rough-sawn boards continue on the ceiling, and the room is furnished with local treasures and antiques. Reflecting on the project as a whole, she expresses, “I can now say that it’s the most amazing feeling to live in a home that is completely in every way what we wanted it to be…I think we have built something that will work well for us for a long time to come, and I look forward to getting old in this house!”
Knickerbocker Group designed the barn to nestle into the land directly across from the house, adding a new stone wall to help define the homestead from the woods beyond. The barn’s dimensions and exterior details were modeled off the homeowners’ old barn. It’s a multi-use structure, with a garage and woodshop on the main level, and individual “his” and “her” spaces on the second floor. The clients are especially fond of “the curved detail over the front door.” A winding gravel pathway connects the barn to the main house and its grand farmer’s porch.