A coastal Maine house designed to feel like it’s floating over the water


Kaplan Thompson Architects together with Warren Construction Group has designed this contemporary coastal house that is perched right over Casco Bay in Yarmouth, Maine. When you enter, you are greeted with a wall of glass that overlooks the extensive water views and three stories of impeccable craftsmanship.

The original request for this project was to “make this house feel spacious, but without using much space.” The homeowner had purchased an existing home that was modest in size, and wanted it to be larger, however the town would only allow a minor expansion beyond the original footprint and volume.

DESIGN DETAILS: ARCHITECT Kaplan Thompson Architects INTERIOR DESIGNER Joy Knight CONTRACTOR Warren Construction Group LIGHTING DESIGNER TRS Lighting STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Becker Structural Engineers 


Having grown up in the surrounding neighborhood, the owner wanted to be respectful to his neighbors and honor the traditional house style (small, older Maine cottage) while also achieving a contemporary feel with plenty of glass to help take advantage of the extensive water views. The lot is situated on and slightly over a rocky ledge right on the ocean, with sight lines leading all the way to Portland in the distance

Above: The vaulted ceiling combined with the 8-foot glass windows and skylights let in plenty of natural light, allowing you to feel like you are floating on Casco Bay.


Using the original footprint, this 3,260 square foot house was designed so that the street-facing entrance emulates the other neighborhood homes with double-hung windows that have divided lites. The facade is covered in wood shingles with a modest front porch and tiny dormer above. But as you travel around to the back of the house, the windows gradually become larger, lose their divisions, and turn into 8’-wide fully sliding openings on the rear.


Any deck space would have eaten into the allocated footage for the house, so the open bays were designed with plate glass railings, allowing for the feeling of standing outside while still technically inside. At high tide, if you perch at the railing and look down, it is as if you are floating over the water.


The third-floor lofted space was built with an exposed structure so that you can see the beams on the ceiling in the kitchen and dining room below. It gives the house a modern cottage character while simultaneously allowing for an additional 10 inches of headroom. Moving from the intimate kitchen and dining room into the vaulted main living area suddenly conveys a sense of expansiveness, despite the modest volume allowable. Throughout the house care was taken to furnish rooms to the edges, including window seats that allow you to take in full views.


Nature is often the driver of design, and since the house is located over the water, the reflection of light off the surface plays up and onto the ceilings of the rooms. Exposed wood beams, nickel gap walls and ceilings made from Douglas fir gives the entire house a warm and bright vibe, which is only enhanced by light throughout the day.


Wall space was at a premium, meaning some depth had to be sacrificed. Still, the house has a modified high-performance envelope and is very energy efficient. Solar panels on the roof provide energy and heat pumps keep the interior warm (and cool), while a small wood stove takes the edge off and provides a contrast to the winter sea beyond the glass.


Similar to building a boat, every possible square inch in this this coastal Maine house had to be carefully considered. Three cantilevers work their way up the rear of the house, making a sort of layer cake of extended bays. On the ground floor, a tub is placed in the bay window, allowing you to be enveloped in water literally and visually. There are a total of three bedrooms and three bathrooms in this dwelling.


On the second floor, the pop-out holds a continuous window seat. And on the third floor there are two built-in beds beneath the eaves, each with their own small bookshelf and a skylight for good stargazing. Like on a boat, you might not have much head space, but it’s still a wonderful place to be.


What We Love: This stunning home presents a modest size from the street and opens up on the waterfront side to three-levels. This design helps to combat the original footprint constraints to allow a more spacious floor plan. Expansive walls of glazing not only captures the spectacular waterfront views but also an abundance of natural light. The windows also help to create the illusion that this home is floating over Casco Bay.

Tell Us: What do you think of the overall design of this Coastal Maine house? Let us know in the Comments, we enjoy reading your feedback!

Note: Check out a couple of other amazing home tours that we have highlighted here on One Kindesign in the state of Maine: Cabin retreat designed with a rustic camp feel in coastal Maine and Beach cottage off the coast of Maine offers stunning interior spaces.



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Patrice Lavoie
1 year ago

Superbe maison. Magnifique construction et design. Merci.