Projects / Renovations      Portland, Maine

Ranch Revival


  • AIA Maine COTE 2013 Honor Award
  • AIA Maine 2012 Merit Award
  • Projected LEED Platinum


Jesse and Betsy searched for two years for the “dump” of their dreams: a tiny, inexpensive, homely 1960’s ranch house. Their new project was within walking distance of their kids’ schools and close enough to Portland that they could ride bikes into work. Undaunted by the home’s challenges, they believed they could renovate it into a stylish, extremely comfortable, highly efficient home for their family—on a budget. As an architect and a fiber artist, their creative vision was clear, and they sensed that the forgotten home on Madeline Street was a true diamond in the rough.


The home is a striking presence in a neighborhood that hasn’t seen any new construction in a few decades. It sets a quiet tone with stained hemlock siding, a slate base, and chimney clad in roofing salvaged from an 1840’s barn. An elegant entry door opens into a vivid blue mudroom, with birch coat hooks by Betsy. In the living room, a curved plaster ceiling billows and heaves, defining the relaxed kitchen and dining room. The ceiling rises rapidly over a proud main living space, grounded by a custom steel fireplace.

The house was expanded to include a new guest room, heated mudroom, and breezeway, and a compact two-bedroom volume was stacked on top of the first floor to create a kids’ wing. Deep-set windows and slatted sunshades maximize winter sunlight and prevent overheating in summer. A compact Scandinavian wood stove heats the home with firewood for only $350 a year, and a Swiss heat recovery ventilator provides fresh air. Salvaged materials include wood end-grain tile flooring, vintage sinks, and manufacturer’s remnant ceramic tile. Even the 6” overcoat of exterior insulation was reclaimed from demolished buildings. The yard includes Maine blueberries, berry bushes, and apple trees, creating an edible, sustainable, landscape.


  • Year Completed

  • Cost

  • Gross Floor Area

    1900 sq ft
  • Beds

  • Baths

  • Partners

    Jesse Thompson, General Contractor
    Rising Tide Custom Builders

Sustainability Achievements


  • Walkable location
  • Near public transportation
  • Sustainable landscape
  • Edible landscape
  • Native plantings
  • Renovation required minimal site disturbance
  • Bike racks onsite
  • Reused materials from the site
  • Resilient landscape design


  • Uses recycled or reclaimed materials
  • Uses locally-sourced materials
  • Designed for durability
  • Designed for low maintenance
  • Designed for minimal embodied energy
  • Low global warming potential insulation


  • Optimized for daylighting
  • Fresh air ventilation system for indoor air quality
  • Visual connection to the outdoors
  • Low-VOC finishes
  • Formaldehyde-free building


  • Low-flow fixtures
  • Landscaping requires little water


  • Uses passive design strategies
  • R-5 windows
  • R-45 walls
  • R-60 roof
  • R-20 slab
  • Meets Passive House Renovation requirements
  • Fresh air ventilation system with heat recovery
  • Super-insulated
  • Triple-glazed windows
  • High Quality Air-tight construction: 1.0 ACH50