A Tale of Two Houses
A beachside shingle-style with nautical flair
When Louise Jean was growing up in Lewiston, summer weekends were all about getting to the water. Her family regularly went to lakes, but Old Orchard was the “real treat” of the season, she says, what with the amusement rides and the beach. Life took Louise far from the beach, however. Shortly before graduating from college, she married her high school sweetheart, Ray Jean, and the two traveled for his work. “Those were the days when they moved you around a lot,” Ray says of his career in a diversified industrial company. “Taking on varied assignments put me on the fast track and took us to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Philadelphia.” Eventually, the Jeans moved to Houston, where Ray was the CEO for Quanex Building Products. The Jeans didn’t mind moving so frequently—in fact, they liked it—though the coast was still in the back of their minds. With retirement on the horizon, Florida beckoned, but so did Maine, which still felt like home.
In 2001, in Maine for Louise’s 40th high school reunion—“Saint Dominic’s, rah, rah,” says Louise—the couple saw a “teardown” on Pine Point, the northern end of the beach that runs from Scarborough all the way to Old Orchard. With the help of Salmon Falls Architecture in Biddeford, Douston Construction in Arundel, and an interior designer friend from Atlanta, the Jeans built new. For ten years, they enjoyed their home, and then they moved. Next door. The adjacent lot had become available, and the Jeans again wanted to build a new house designed by Salmon Falls and built by Douston. Why do it all over in virtually the same location and with most of the same people, given they were so happy with the architect, builder, and interior designer in the first place?
Largely because their family had grown over time. Their three children now had seven of their own, and the Jeans wanted a bigger, less formal house, “a beach house with refinement,” as Louise puts it. This time around, though, they brought in a local interior designer whom they greatly admired: Louise Hurlbutt of Hurlbutt Designs in Kennebunk, who collaborated with Annie Detterman—then of Hurlbutt Designs, now of Anniebells Interiors in Kennebunk—on the project. Douston was once again the builder, and the house was designed by Michael Bedell and Rob Freedman, working with Paul Gosselin and Salmon Falls Architecture. (Now Bedell and Freedman are partners in Kennebunk River Architects in Wells.) The new house is shingle-style with a nautically themed interior. The oceanside length of the house is filled, corner to corner, with windows, so upon entering, the view is across a bright, navy and white living room to “50 feet of glass to the Atlantic,” says builder Shawn Douston. “You feel like you are almost outdoors.” This first room establishes the ornamentation and palette used throughout the house. There are blues edged in whites or vice versa, such as a black Ming Dynasty–style coffee table that Hurlbutt had painted white then edged in blue, as well as sofas and pillows with contrasting piping and a blue custom Stark carpet with a white pattern and border. An antique ship’s wheel that Hurlbutt found in her travels hangs on a wall and is echoed in the pillow fabric’s motif. References to boats and the ocean are found on fabrics, wallpapers, paintings, and details throughout the house. The central staircase, for instance, has a lighthouse-shaped newel. The powder room’s wallpaper suggests a boatbuilder’s blueprints. A pair of three-tiered lamp bases are in the form of sea urchins. “If I feel strongly about something, Louise [Hurlbutt] will encourage me, as long as it works,” Louise [Jean] says.
That guests are a big focus of the Jeans’ life is apparent from the house’s emphasis on feeding, sleeping, and entertaining a crowd. The living room flows into a dining room with an adjacent kitchen and porch, so the Jeans can seat up to 22 for dinner or a cookout. Louise likes Ray “out of my way,” when she cooks, so the bar area— making drinks is Ray’s specialty—is located in the living room, while a wine refrigerator and pull-out refrigerater drawers are tucked into the paneled arched entry into the dining room. The kitchen itself, as well as an L-shaped pantry, is full of creative cabinetry from Dina Lennon of Sylco Cabinetry, who designed them with the Jeans’ entertaining habits, personal tastes, and cooking styles in mind. In addition to an oversized refrigerator and two dishwashers to handle big gatherings, all items, from utensils to appliances, have their own custom space, with wooden spoons fitted into cubbies in a drawer by the stove and an espresso machine mounted in the pantry.
Overnight guests’ sleeping needs are met through a multilevel suite (located above the garage), a bunk room for children, and a guest room with a queen bed and two built-in daybeds. In these rooms, the palette changes. One bedroom is aqua and coral. Another is aqua and navy, colors pulled from its Legacy Home bedding. (Hurlbutt had Barrier Island Rugs make an area rug to match the linen colors.) Browns and grays dominate the bunk room, where beadboard walls, teak trim, a ladder, and a steamer trunk continue the nautical theme. As for the Jeans’ bedroom suite, it occupies the whole ocean side of the second floor, stretching from a barrel-ceilinged bedroom through a sitting room to an expansive bathroom with a glass shower, Calacatta Gold marble floor, and pedestal tub. As for entertainment options: proximity to the beach is the whole purpose of the house. The Jeans’ grandchildren “love the same things we do,” says Louise. They play cornhole and football on the beach. They plunge into the hot tub that nestles under the second-floor porch and by the dune grass that edges the property.
Of course, sometimes it rains, and when it does, the house offers plenty of places to curl up with a book. The house also has numerous options for watching movies or the news, as there are televisions in the living room, the cherry-lined study upstairs, the kitchen, and even the second-floor laundry room and owners’ bathroom. (Ray likes to watch CNBC while he shaves.) For bigger groups, a media room mimics a movie theater with six big leather recliners arranged on two levels before a large flat-screen television.
On the ocean side, the exterior is virtually all glass. As Bedell and Freedman note, people buy shore property for the view so, on all floors, the partners purposely filled the width of the buildable lot with windows. (Part of the design challenge of the house was fitting everything the Jeans wanted into the allowable envelope, which meant, at times, creative design solutions, such as hiding the HVAC and plumbing in the living room’s coffered ceiling.) Meanwhile, on the street side, playful detailing includes diamond-shaped shingles under the gables and partial copper roofs, while an attractive yet functional cluster of eight windows in one corner of the facade floods the stairwell with light. Above the garage doors, a bump-out bay with supporting corbels breaks up the mass of the house. The bay—as Dave Wagor, project manager at Douston Construction observes—also creates a drip edge that serves as the garage’s protection from sheeting rainwater.
According to builder Shawn Douston, one of the running jokes during construction was that Ray could supervise the building of the house from the “Oval Office,” because an oval window in the owners’ initial house looked toward the construction site. As for whether the Jeans, in a presidential mood, are ever tempted to look out one of the two oval windows in their current house to supervise more building? “We are not,” Louise says, “building another house.” Because now they have exactly what they want: the beach and a house big enough to enjoy it with their loved ones.