For eighteen months, Knickerbocker Group worked with a Connecticut-based architect to integrate a new contemporary clapboard home that features uninterrupted views of the ocean and an open floor plan to showcase the homeowner’s extensive collection of European antiques.
When purchased, the property housed three original buildings: an 18th-century cape—which was relocated on the property and nestled among pines—a barn, and a chicken shed. Common on old Maine farms, these buildings were not sited for views but for the functional, operational efficiency of the former dairy farm. The rolling pasturelands afforded a perfect opportunity to construct a new 7,800 square-foot home among the original buildings, designed to incorporate both old and new.
When the homeowner introduced Knickerbocker Group to the Pemaquid site, it was covered in stakes outlining each room of her soon-to-be seaside haven. With the basic design complete and the architect located in Connecticut, Knickerbocker Group’s role was essential for connecting everyone, keeping the team moving forward, and most importantly, problem-solving. “Every time we came across an unresolved detail, Knickerbocker Group would find a way to solve it,” explains the homeowner. “They were the ones who pulled it all together and made it happen.”
The sense of arriving at a historic farm is heightened upon entering the home as guests are drawn directly into the “great room”, a 19th-century barn the homeowner found in Vermont. She loved the old weathered building and had it deconstructed and transported to the coast of Maine. There it sat for six years before she found the perfect team to fulfill her vision of using it as the centerpiece of a year-round home.
Knickerbocker Group worked to build a home that would stand the test of time, fit into the historic feel of the land, and honor the homeowner’s design aesthetic. Since the client owns The Art of Antiquing, a European antique shop in Round Pond, she had an extensive collection of art and furnishings that she was saving for the home. “This house had been in my brain for a while,” the homeowner says. “It felt like it was just waiting to be built.”
In the center of the great room is a fireplace that Knickerbocker Group built to accommodate the homeowner’s 16th-century mantle she sourced from France. Knickerbocker Group also customized the chimney to hold the French mercury glass mirror and re-engineered each piece of the fireplace, so it was both functioning and accommodating to the art.
Separating the great room and the new home is a 2-1/2 story window wall complemented by two pairs of skylights—a design that invites natural light and provides sweeping ocean views. Knickerbocker Group led the window wall design, which allows the staircase to be seen from the center of the living area as well as from the inside of the barn’s great room. It was a way to create a visually connected home while celebrating the sculptural nature of the stairway.
The staircase treads as with all of the flooring, was constructed out of reclaimed wood and finished with a special wax to match the Vermont barn aesthetic. The homeowner envisioned the stairs having external mounts with European-style balusters to give space between the rails and the steps. Knickerbocker Group worked with Erica Moody, a local metal artisan to achieve this look. David Hammond, interior and architectural designer, replicated the European external banisters the homeowner wanted and constructed the tridents positioned on the bottom brackets. Knickerbocker Group also worked with Michael Alderson Restoration to install the decorative wood piping on each of the stair landings.
Looking down from the stairs to a first floor seating area reveals a herringbone pattern created by Michael Alderson Restorations. Seeing how much the homeowner loved the design, they used the leftover wood to create the living room coffee table which mirrors the herringbone floor pattern.
Off the main living area, a large breezeway connecting the garage to the home features the homeowner’s antique Carrera floor tiles that were shipped infrom England. A set of double doors open to the hallway where an 18th-century English sideboard topped with a French empire table is flanked by lamps, creating what the homeowner describes as a beautiful vignette.
Through the barn and opposite the stairwell is the library, an intimate reading space that can be separated from the great room by a pair of French pocket doors. The walls in the library are adorned with antique panels that the homeowner sourced from NorEast Architectural Antiques five years before building the home. “When I came across the panels, I knew I had to buy them, and I’ve been waiting for the day when I’d be able to use them,” the homeowner says.
Each antique panel was installed by Scott Libby Woodworking who created identical sections to fit the space before Pendleton Restoration restored the room. The result is that it is almost impossible to distinguish the antique panels from the new.
“Everyone who worked on this project needed to have a unique perspective because it is not your typical house,” explains the homeowner. “It was truly a collaborative process, and I remember when Knickerbocker Group joined the team and how interested and supportive they were of everything I had in mind. They would often ask me about my vision and then work to make it happen. I like to call them the dream team.”