Modern Maine in Kennebunkport
February 21, 2022
This Maine family home balances regional style with modern sophistication.
Text by Jorge S. Arango Photography by Trent Bell
Designing a house always entails practical decisions that support a family’s lifestyle. But rarely does the process alter the lifestyle itself to the degree it did with this Kennebunkport, Maine, home.
Builder Geoff Bowley and his wife, Aja, had two children when they met with architect Jessie Carroll and designer Krista Stokes to talk about the house that they were conceptualizing in Binnacle Hill, a forested neighborhood Bowley was developing. “Our family was growing, and we knew we needed more room,” observes Bowley. “We would spend, at minimum, the next five to ten years of our life here.” The discussion about the number of bedrooms became “the impetus to talk about whether we would have more children”—albeit, he admits, a bit sooner than he’d expected.
Stokes recalls, “He went in for a house meeting and came out with Aja and me telling him they needed to have another child.” The family has since grown to include three children, a factor that informed aspects of the design.
Bowley proposed a U-shaped structure. At the time, Carroll, a New England Home 5 Under 40 winner, worked with Whitten Architects (she now has her own firm), and her team lined glass-walled living spaces along a south-facing yard to maximize passive solar. Two wings—one devoted to a garage and kids’ areas, the other to the primary bedroom—extend from it perpendicularly. An enormous playroom sits above the garage. “It’s away, but because it’s a U shape, you can be in your bedroom and look into the window of the playroom to see what’s going on,” says Carroll.
The architecture’s hybrid style blends farmhouse vernacular with modern concepts of openness. “We’re regionalists,” explains principal Rob Whitten. To visually minimize the 4,000-square-foot structure, he and Carroll clad the garage wing—the largest volume—in white shingles. “It makes the garage look like a barn,” says Whitten. On the other wings, Thermory, a low-maintenance moisture-proof pine siding, “makes the house look more recessive.”
Landscape architect Soren deNiord used the back of the lot to “bring back a bit of the ranginess and woods,” making the inside of the U a kind of woodland courtyard. Out front, a large green lawn with dramatic outcroppings becomes an entertaining and play area.
“With Soren, it was lawn and ferns,” says Stokes, who convinced her clients to tint the concrete floors green. “I was having a hard time working in soft elements with all the hard concrete, glass, and stone.” The forest-green tint connects indoors to out and takes the edge off.
As for furnishings, she explains, “We played the game of high and low. I didn’t want to dictate to the three-year-old. I told Geoff that even though they’re going to put their sticky sippy-cup fingers on it, you’re a grown man, and you need a good couch.” So, sophisticated yet fresh items mix with furniture from Room & Board and CB2.
This dovetailed perfectly with Carroll’s intentions. “In a family home, it’s important to distinguish between refined moments and playful areas,” she says. The finely crafted details of the home supply the former, while durable materials and Stokes’s softer touches make it ideal for a family that’s a toddler-size larger since the project began.
Builder: Geoff Bowley, Bowley Builders
Architecture: Rob Whitten, Russ Tyson, Jessie Carroll, Whitten Architects
Interior design: Krista Stokes
Landscape design: Soren deNiord, Soren deNiord Design Studio