Shingle-Style Guesthouse

Drawing Board- May 2012


Location: Southwest Harbor
Architect: Stephen G. Smith Architects
Project Architect: Michelle B. Phelps
Square Footage: 2,200

The homeowners’ desire for a shingle-style guesthouse on an unparalleled site, high on a granite hilltop with sweeping views of Somes Sound and their main house below, paved the way for a unique design. The design solution incorporates details and features that encompass the owners’ dual appreciation for boating and the history of shingle-style design on Maine’s coast.

The guesthouse is a compact form that captures views and maximizes living space for a growing family and their guests. The design merges the new guesthouse’s shingle-style design with the style of the main house, while at the same time allowing the guesthouse to maintain its own identity with connotations of historic carriage houses of the past. This led to creating a more enclosed, utilitarian first floor, including car or small boat storage along with additional sleeping quarters. This created an upside-down layout, with living and kitchen spaces on the second floor to maximize unobstructed views to the natural beauty of the site. While the second-floor plan remains flowing and more open, a large granite fireplace centers the space, creating a focal point, and is surrounded by an expansive wraparound deck.

Being avid sailors, the owners requested ample built-ins to furnish their house in the same way a sailboat is furnished. While requests such as this helped determine window placement and spatial orientations, what sets the design apart is the combination of many subtle interior and exterior details. These details include the open “X” pattern of the deck railing, small nine-lite muntin pattern, granite stone base, wall flair detailing, and the gable portholes, which all contribute to an updated shingle-style composition. The overall cross-gable massing pulls these details and program requirements together into a cohesive whole.

Stephen G. Smith Architects:, 207-236-8064