Maine Coast Architecture That Fits Your Lifestyle
A house that fits your land and lifestyle starts by understanding and respecting the site. Before you begin designing a house, spending time at your land will reveal the character of the site.
Experience the views at different times of day, find the sheltered places during a storm, feel the drama of the natural landscape as the lighting changes.
Tall trees, ledges, or a rocky shoreline are important natural forms and visual references that should influence the shapes and materials of your house. A thoughtful design is achieved by balancing many factors including views, topography, sun exposure, wind, vegetation, and privacy.
With Maine coast architecture, you want to collect sunlight during the winter while minimizing that solar gain during the summer. Winds need to be blocked during winter and encouraged to circulate through the house during summer. Take advantage of natural sunlight and prevailing breezes on your site to minimize heating and cooling costs. Two story houses are preferable for compactness and minimizing heat loss.
For summer ventilation, you’ll want operable windows on opposite walls of each room to maximize the flow of air. Large deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your house will allow the sun to enter the house in winter while providing cooling shade in summer.
Evergreen windbreaks on the north and northeast sides of your house are desirable. Trees reduce air-borne sounds, filter dust from the air, and create visual privacy. Protect these trees during construction and they will reward you for decades to come. This is the microclimate of your land and understanding it along with your regional weather pattern is your first critical tool when designing a house to fit your land.
If your lifestyle includes entertaining, locate the spaces where your guests will gather to take best advantage of views and access to outdoor spaces that support these activities. Areas for quiet activities are best located away from entrances, kitchen, family room, stairs, and other traffic areas.
Combine this understanding of the land with your desired lifestyle to guide the floor plan. Stand in a place and think “This spot has the best view in the morning” or “This is where I want to relax at day’s end”. Then start thinking about which rooms want to be in those locations based on your personal daily routines.
Design your kitchen windows facing southeast and you will be greeted by early morning sunlight as it relieves the coolness of daybreak.
A master bedroom and bath facing east offers a cheerful start to your day. If you are not a morning person, consider locating bedrooms on the northwest side of your house.
Melt the barriers between exterior and interior living spaces to bring the feeling of the outdoors into your home and make interior spaces seem larger. Make the transition from indoor to outdoor spaces using natural materials and forms that cultivate a strong, balanced relationship between land, house, and landscape. Terraces made of natural cleft stone blend dramatically with rock or ledge outcroppings.
A covered porch with a view provides a cozy shelter and becomes everyone’s favorite outdoor space. An irregular floor plan creates quiet sunny places to sit outdoors in sheltered gardens. A garage, barn, or garden shed can become a windbreak or privacy screen for outdoor activity areas.
Love Your Home
Designing your house to fit your land and lifestyle is not only fun, you will have a home that you and your family will love. A home that feels like it belongs on the land.