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On the Edge of Acadia National Park: A Modern Shingled House for Year-Round Living

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On the Edge of Acadia National Park: A Modern Shingled House for Year-Round Living

August 16, 2021

Acadia National Park is one of America’s hallowed wild places: Once you get a toehold here on craggy, evergreen-shaded Mount Desert Island in northern Maine, you come for generations. The family that owns this parcel overlooking Somes Sound had camped on the property for many summers before deciding to build. They wanted four bedrooms and three baths, but their main request to Matthew Baird Architects was to tread gently: “We were encouraged to embrace a modest expression worthy of the site and to make a structure that would sit lightly on the ground.” The resulting L-shaped shingled structure has two halves: a winterized main building with an open-plan living floor, and a summer sleeping wing for the months when indoor-outdoor living is the ideal.

Photography courtesy of Matthew Baird Architects.

&#8\2\20;the property is in a remote forest on the end of a peninsula with  9
Above: “The property is in a remote forest on the end of a peninsula with eastern views to the mountains, and westerly views across Somes Sound, the only fjord on the Eastern seaboard,” says project architect Florence Schmitt-Thai. “Tall spruce and pine trees contrast against the sea, and the ground is covered with granite outcroppings, moss, and lichen that roll down to the water’s edge.” Shown here, the geometric east-facing front of the house: The summer quarters are in the single-story half; a breezeway connects it to the main building.

The structure is clad in untreated eastern white cedar shingles that will weather over time, and the windows are framed in plantation mahogany. It’s set on what had once been a granite quarry and rests on stilts.

designed to be &#8\2\20;low and open,&#8\2\2\1; the multi glazed wester 10
Above: Designed to be “low and open,” the multi-glazed western side of the house slopes toward the water. A deep overhang protects the living space from too much sun. The second story crow’s nest contains the master bedroom.
the front door opens to a wood paneled gathering space with a kitchen at one en 11
Above: The front door opens to a wood-paneled gathering space with a kitchen at one end and a dining/sitting area overlooking the sound. Note the loft space tucked into eaves (it’s accessed by a ladder and can be used for sleeping or storage).

Trees that had to be removed during construction were put to use: Tom Savage of Savage Forest built the dining table from a spruce he cut down. Some of the panels of the ceiling, too, are from the property’s trees: “The wood was pickled to create a lighter look and avoid yellowing,” notes Schmitt-Thai.

yes, it&#8\2\17;s customized ikea: the all white kitchen is composed of sek 12
Above: Yes, it’s customized Ikea: The all-white kitchen is composed of Sektion cabinets with high-gloss Ringhult doors and Schoolhouse T Pulls in satin nickel. The architects customized the setup with Corian counters, a subway tile backsplash, and a custom island of Corian with a back panel of whitewashed knotty pine. The stools are by Hay and the trio of lights are Factory Light No. 6 Rod Pendants from Schoolhouse. The living room’s saucer-shaped paper lantern is an Isamu Noguchi Ikari Light Sculpture.
stairs to the master bedroom overlook the granite hearth: &#8\2\20;it&# 13
Above: Stairs to the master bedroom overlook the granite hearth: “it’s an ashlar composition and the grout is set back to leave the stone expressed,” says Schmitt-Thai. Here and there, including along the stair wall, the architects artfully left the structural framing exposed.
the simple master bedroom was designed to feel like a tree house. the wood floo 14
Above: The simple master bedroom was designed to feel like a tree house. The wood flooring upstairs and down is pickled white oak, and the ceiling lights in both spaces are classic hardware store porcelain sockets with half-tipped matte chrome light bulbs purchased at Canal Lighting in NYC.
the breezeway leads out to the twin back porches overlooking somes sound. 15
Above: The breezeway leads out to the twin back porches overlooking Somes Sound.
 rooms in the summer cabin are entered from the porch and linked by a jack and 16
Above: Rooms in the summer cabin are entered from the porch and linked by a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. (Unfortunately, no photographs are available of the interior because it hadn’t been furnished at the time of the shoot.) The space at the very end with the south-facing window is used by the owner as a writing studio.
matthew baird architects&#8\2\17; floor plan for the first floor details th 17
Above: Matthew Baird Architects’ floor plan for the first floor details the bathroom tucked behind the kitchen and the summer wing’s two bedrooms, bath, and studio.
the master bedroom suite includes a bathroom and dressing area. 18
Above: The master bedroom suite includes a bathroom and dressing area.
the many guises of the house. 19
Above: The many guises of the house.

Here are three more newly built rural retreats to explore:

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