One with the Landscape



The homeowners dreamt of a traditional Maine shingle-style home, but one with glass walls to maximize water views. One that would visually connect the indoors to the beautiful outdoors. A wooded site with granite outcrops reaching down to the water. The homeowners also sought to separate living areas from sleeping areas to accommodate frequent houseguests. The solution the design team came up with was a compound with separate areas for living and sleeping connected by a foyer and screen porch, plus a completely separate “barn” that houses a game room, exercise area, and bar/TV-watching space. All the areas of the house where the homeowners spend time are at grade level, with stepped floor levels to follow the natural contours of the land. This allows for multiple terraced areas that extend directly out from the inside floors, with glass wall separations to maximize the connections.

The exterior design concept was to use local stone to clad the “public” or entry sides of the house with a pair of stone walls that cross at the entry area, with openings for traditional windows and doorways and broken only by the main entry. The stone walls were designed to be part of the landscape by visually growing out of the rocky ground, meeting the exposed timber roof, and disappearing at the opposite end back into the ground again. Behind the wall sits the home, built from evergreen lumber exposed throughout, to further connect it to the site and the surrounding area. The water side is constructed largely of walls of wood windows and doors, starting at the floor/terrace level and reaching the timber roof but with traditional divided lights to maintain some connection to the old shingle houses of the Maine coast. Cedar shingle roofing and stone chimneys create the same traditional connections.

Spreading the home out along the site, along with natural stone terraces and walks and minimal landscaping, visually connects it to its natural environment. When complete, the house will become part of the landscape, like the old stone walls and forests of Maine.

Location: Little John Island, Yarmouth
Architect: Guy N. Grassi, Grassi Design Group
Builder: R.P. Morrison Builders
Interior Designer: Lurana Bergson, Lily Bay Interiors
Project Start: November 2010
Project End: June 2012

Grassi Design Group:, 617-956-9992
R.P. Morrison Builders:, 207-892-9418