Two sisters separated by over a thousand miles wanted to create a place to bring their families together on a piece of family land in Harpswell, Maine. The home needed two separate master suites and plenty of space for kids and friends.
As a home for many people, there should be spaces for interaction and play and quiet spaces for retreat and reflection. It should make the most of its pristine location and be as close to the water as possible. A steep slope, a restrictive setback, the desire to keep the primary living spaces on a single floor, and a modest budget increased the challenge.
The home spreads along a narrow gap on a sloping site, maximizing every room’s connection to the water. The two families are connected visually through one open great room, but private spaces for each family are set apart from each other. The shared spaces reach their high point in an oversized screened porch. In order to create spaces for together time and for private time, a plan unfolded where all of the common spaces spread out along the waterside. A open view from the living room at one end, through the dining room and kitchen, ends at an oversized screen porch at the other end, connected by a large, high-performance hydraulic awning window at the pass-through bar. While there is a visual connection, the distance allows for independent conversations and activities with little interference.
The building is capable of achieving net zero energy, including a super-insulated, extremely carefully built enclosure and high-performance, triple-glazed ventilating windows. Only two roof planes cover the house for simplicity and durability, with the primary slope facing south. The dramatic “Stairway to Heaven,” as they call it, flows all the way up to the top floor, and terminates in a perfect loft hideaway for the kids.