A charming cedar clad retreat in harmony with nature in coastal Maine

modern coastal home exterior with a pathway

This beautiful modern coastal retreat was designed by Whitten Architects, nestled along an abundant tidal river in Downeast, Maine. Created for a retired couple with adult children, the owners have historical connections with the region in addition to an avid interest in the conservation of precious coastal lands. 

They desired a gathering place for their extended family. The couple’s love for the field on the property was a central consideration in the design process. Creating a site-specific design, the architects were able to respect the unique 600-foot shoreland building setback dictated by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

DESIGN DETAILS: ARCHITECT Whitten Architects BUILDER Hewes & Company STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Albert Putnam Associates INTERIOR DESIGNER Kelly Healy of Belhaakon CABINETWORK Hewes & Company LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE Emma Kelly Landscape LANDSCAPE INSTALLATION Atlantic Landscape Construction

modern coastal style home entry with a staircase

By positioning the dwelling even farther back than the required setback, they were able to preserve the best attributes of the site–the rolling fields and woodlands down to the river–without crowding them. The site’s fields are cut for hay twice a year, and this intentional tending creates a lush and dynamic foreground.

modern staircase

The views of the river are embraced by the surrounding coastal woodlands and form a picturesque middle ground that leads the eye toward the serene background beyond. The architects were tasked with the challenge of ensuring the home had a subtle presence on the site, especially on approach by car, providing visibility over the house to the water. 

modern coastal style dining and living room with a fireplace

This concept influenced the house’s multi-level design, including its sunken one-story core flanked by two-bedroom wings, one-half level up and one-half level down. The architect’s design seamlessly integrated the field with the house, creating a blurred boundary between the patio, the house’s edge, and the field.

modern coastal style kitchen

The house sits at the northern edge of the field, offering panoramic views across most of the field to the water. This also provided ideal exposure for the solar collectors which supplement the electrical needs, including the heat pump-powered radiant heat system. The bedroom suites and barn are derived from the simple utilitarian shapes of regional coastal structures.

modern coastal style kitchen

By dropping the central connector and keeping the house to one story, the architects were able to minimize the visual impact of the home while also providing direct access to grade from the open plan living space. The site’s unique characteristics are linked to the multi-level design, providing several points of connection with the surrounding grade.

modern coastal style staircase

A strong connection between inside and out was accomplished through well-framed views, a stone terrace, and a generous screened porch. This connection extends from the high entry point to the lower living grade and the existing grade on the south side, where the main living space is situated. Even in lower spaces, efforts were made to connect with the outdoors.

modern coastal style bedroom

The grade was elevated as much as possible to align with the windows, creating a sense of closeness to the ground and a strong connection to the outdoor environment, even in the “basement” areas. High north-facing windows above ample storage space help balance direct sunlight from tall glass doors facing the river to the south while also promoting natural ventilation.

modern coastal style bedroom

Durability was a key consideration, with thick concrete flooring and solid white oak used throughout, along with white cedar on the exterior. The bedroom areas feature built-in solid white oak furnishings.

modern coastal style bathroom

What We Love: This coastal retreat in Maine offers a comfortable floor plan and relaxed living spaces for spending time with loved ones. We love the peaceful surroundings of this home and the collaborative efforts between the owners and the architects to conserve the coastal woodlands. This dwelling boasts a wonderful indoor-outdoor connection through well-framed views, a stone terrace, and a large screened porch.

Tell Us: Would this getaway home be your idea of the ultimate family gathering place? Let us know why or why not in the Comments below!

Note: Be sure to check out a couple of other wonderful home tours that we have highlighted here on One Kindesign in the state of Maine: A modern shingle-style home rests peacefully on the Maine coast and A 570 square foot steel cabin immersed in a beautiful Maine forest.

modern coastal style window seat

modern coastal style screened porch

Above: A three-season screened porch provides relaxing coastal views in this inviting Maine retreat.

modern coastal style home exterior at dusk

The architects employed locally sourced, natural, and reclaimed materials to create a high-performance, low-maintenance home rooted in the local vernacular architecture. The exterior showcases native plantings, cedar shingles, and vertical cedar siding, with reclaimed materials used primarily in the fireplace, per the owners’ request.

modern coastal home landscape pathway

modern coastal home exterior with a landscape view

By honoring coastal setbacks and prioritizing the couple’s love for the property’s fields, the architect’s site-specific design not only preserved the natural beauty of the land but also fostered a strong connection between the home and the environment.‍

modern coastal home exterior with a landscape view

modern coastal home exterior with a landscape view

modern coastal home exterior with a landscape view

modern coastal home exterior with a landscape aerial view

modern coastal home exterior

PHOTOGRAPHER ‍Trent Bell Photography

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