When architect David Graham was asked to design a house for clients in Kennebunkport, Maine, the task was to combine the client's desire for symmetry and a shingle style design with the need to work within restrictions for an ocean front property. The end result was a beautiful two-story, 4,800 square foot home which sits twenty feet above sea level on the rocky coastline. It has magnificent ocean views on one side and a sheltered, welcoming entrance court on the other.
Graham explains, "The house was custom built for a client on a site that is directly adjacent to the ocean, so it has a beautiful setting. Because this is New England, the client wanted something that had a shingle style feel to it. Other than that, I think I had the ability to come up with a plan that I felt fit the site and that met the homeowner's requirements as far as interior space."
The homeowner really liked symmetry, so Graham created a symmetrical design and used certain elements to emphasize that, such as accenting the midpoint of the house by introducing stone, and by including two chimneys when only one is real. Graham explains, "There are two chimneys but one of them is just a faux chimney so that balance and symmetry was achieved in the design."
Graham describes the house as an adaptation from a shingle style home. "The homeowner liked the idea of peaked roofs and showed me examples of houses with peaked roofs. When an architect builds along the ocean, we're faced with restrictions such as how high the house can be and how much square footage it can be. The challenges with houses in locations like this are really more regulatory challenges than design challenges, although they become design challenges. It becomes a challenge to work within regulations and end up building a true custom house that has some design appeal to it."
"The homeowner specifically requested not to have a grand entrance, but instead to have one simple entry into the house from the driveway. When you walk through the entryway, there is a cathedral ceiling and just above the door there is beautiful chandelier hanging there." Touches like this give the house a warm, inviting atmosphere.
Graham explains, "As you enter the house, the left hand side of the entry is the more private side of the house and the right hand side is the more public space, with the kitchen and the living areas."
"The driveway leading up to the house is raised up and is about 120 feet back from the road, so you have a nice approach on that driveway and you have this great undefined turnaround for parking. It's not like your typical driveway where you can pull right up to the garage doors. Here there is plenty of room to turn around and maneuver. The homeowner liked it because this is the western side of the house so in the afternoon you get beautiful sun on this side. It almost becomes a patio area and you can bring a chair out there and sit. The ocean side is breezy and windy and this side is less of a driveway and more of another landscape feature that enables people to use the outdoor space. The structures were intended to protect and create some privacy in this little courtyard area. It has a very private feel even though it is the entrance to the house."
In the driveway another charming touch is a diamond checkerboard pattern created by grass and pavers. Graham explains, "Because this is ocean front property, we're only permitted to cover the ground with a certain amount of impervious surface. By using this material which is referred to as geogrid, we were able to meet this restriction because it allows the water to permeate the soil." This practical element of the design creates a very unique effect.
"The client was very open to my ideas and my suggestions. Clients sometimes have their own ideas as far as how they want things to look, and one of the nice things about this project was that the client really let me control a large part of the design. The house has beautiful landscape lighting and perimeter security lighting. It was a fun project."