Marsh Sanctuary


The owners of this modest, energy-efficient house on the marsh had long visited the area and dreamed of a more permanent connection to Maine. They imagined a place not to escape from the world, but to share with loved ones. One of the challenges was to design an intimate and cozy home for a busy couple that could also effortlessly welcome frequent guests. The home also had to fit onto a very narrow rectangular site, which, although abutting a quiet and serene marsh, is located on a popular street where zoning restrictions imposed additional design challenges.

The result is a simple but very efficient 19-foot-wide building, with proportions that create a quiet but elegant insertion into the existing streetscape. Locating the main entrance on the side of the house allows a floor plan with larger than expected spaces and added natural light. The building respects and reinterprets the beach town vernacular using low-maintenance materials. High R-value insulation, careful detailing of the building’s thermal envelope, and a simple mechanical system create an energy-efficient home.

One of the first desires the clients shared was capturing the four-season view of the marsh. The social spaces and the master suite sanctuary enjoy this panoramic view, while the more flexible spaces for guests face the street. Retiring to the screened porch for a calming evening view of the marsh following a long walk on the sandy beach with their trusty springer spaniel—this, according to the owners, is the way life should be.

Richard Renner Architects:, 207-773-9699

Location: Southern Maine
Architect: Richard Renner Architects
Builder: Wright-Ryan Homes
Construction Start: October 2012
Construction End: June 2013