Built on a wooded cliff side, the home is designed with multiple levels to conform to the land’s elevation changes, define interior spaces and flow, and maximize indoor-outdoor connections.
The story of Tide’s Ledge began much differently than it ended. It was originally conceived as a transitional home, but one that was distinctly more on the traditional side, so as not to “stick out too much” in its classic coastal Maine environment. As the design team continued to meet with the clients about their desires and the direction of the project, it became apparent there was a disconnect between their objectives and the inspiration imagery they were drawn to. When the foundation was going into the ground, the lead architect stopped the process to address the clients’ conflicting visions. After mulling it over for a few days, the clients decided to take a leap of faith and build the bold, contemporary house of their dreams, giving Knickerbocker permission to explore a fresh take on the original concepts.
A connective theme seen throughout the design is the conflict and union between the idea of solidity and weightlessness. In the main living area of the home, a polished concrete fireplace offers a significant massing element as a centralized focal point, yet the fire itself is visible on 3 sides and sits on a hearth that appears to float above the floor as if balancing on a single support. The living room is slightly sunken below the kitchen and dining room level, creating an intimate gathering space, as well as conforming to the elevation changes of the property. The steps leading down into the living area are cleverly detailed to integrate into the fireplace and corner column, creating an unusual reveal that follows the form of each stairs’ risers and treads. Strategic LED lighting in the cove of the ceiling, as well as under each step, highlights these unusual and thoughtful design elements. Red oak flooring and beams in a warm Colonial Gray finish are juxtaposed against polished concrete silhouettes and cool tones seen in the furniture and paint.
The floating staircase with cable rail is one of the most unique features of the home. It is supported by a single steel stringer which allows each step to be suspended between floors. Once again, the apparent mass of the 3-story structure is juxtaposed against its visual lightness. The stair’s openness also allows light to stream through the negative space, creating an interesting shadow effect on the surrounding walls as the natural daylight moves throughout day. Strategic decorative lighting on the walls and near each step illuminates the area at night with a warm glow.
The master bedroom is on the second level and takes full advantage of the indoor/outdoor relationship between the home and property. It evokes a tree-house style of living, with expansive glass windows that capture peeks of the coastal bay beyond and let in dappled light from the trees carefully protected during construction.
The headboard wall in this room is meticulously wrapped in rectangular birch panels, evenly spaced and methodically suspended. Although the accent wall is minimalistic in style and form, it perfectly highlights the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into every area of the home.
An outgrowth of the client-design team’s collaboration, the home is fully outfitted with custom pieces in every room: a single stringer stairway with cable rail; a triangular concrete and wood bench/planter in the mudroom that uses form to guide occupants to the three main wings of the home, a centrally located gas fireplace open on three sides and anchored by polished concrete, and multiple custom furniture built-ins characterized by an “L” shape that subtly resonates throughout the home.
Various cladding materials on the exterior add balance, texture and visual interest, with a palette of material finishes that connects the house to its natural surroundings. The thoughtful approach to the exterior and landscape make for a harmonious melding of home and land—so naturally is Tide’s Ledge nested within its cove-side plot, it nearly goes unnoticed from a passing boater’s view.
The kitchen blends both modern accents and fixtures with the natural elements of wood, stone, and concrete. Just like the master bedroom, the room is framed with casement windows that wrap the corners to capture the unique views of the coastline. The cooler components in the space, such as the stainless-steel appliances and polished concrete floors, are counterbalanced by the tree-lined visual field and the warm bath of natural light. Once again, the “L”-shape is subtly integrated into the space; the form repeats in the island’s Silestone slab. The banquette in the breakfast nook is another custom-designed element and is supported by geometric brushed stainless-steel legs. Pops of color in the décor add a liveliness to the atmosphere.
As the contemporary home design began to take shape, so did the trust and collaboration between the client and the designers— it soon became an adventure to develop something very different than what they had dreamt before. The client states, “I have always had a strong desire to live in a more contemporary aesthetic. I’m not much of a collector of antiques and I feel more at ease in an uncluttered, streamlined and clean-lined space. I have always had a pretty strong sense of what I find visually appealing, and warm contemporary best describes my style.” The solid forms and hard lines of the contemporary aesthetic were softened by a calming color palette, satin and brushed finishes, and the myriad natural textures and materials implemented throughout.
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