By putting an end to a chronic battle with Mother Nature, architect Kevin Browne brings to fruition one family’s dream dwelling.
Photographed by Jack Michaud
In 2006, Savas Gunduz and Christy Worsley fell in love with and purchased a three-bedroom, ranch-style house in Falmouth. But the architectural details to which they were originally drawn — soaring ceilings, loads of windows — proved the source of major headaches. Every winter would see a glacial buildup of ice at the inset entry, located between a pair of downward-sloping rooflines. Cathedral ceilings, which trap cold air, and drafty windows, which allow it to permeate, exacerbated the problem. Come spring, the ice would melt and seep into the house. The former owners constructed the home in 1997 to replicate one they had owned in Alabama. “We realized it was not built for the Maine climate,” says Gunduz — or this particular Maine couple, who desired a more open, streamlined floor plan for themselves and their two young children. After a series of epic snowstorms — and time spent on the roof with a hatchet and boiling water — they enlisted Falmouth architect Kevin Browne to reconfigure the roofline, a move that eradicated the annual ice fight and precipitated key layout changes on the first floor.
The original cross-hipped roof, overlapping front-facing gables, and inset entry created an inward slope for snow and ice to follow.
“We wanted to pop open the middle of the house like an umbrella, so that the rain and snow shed to the outside rather than inward,” explains Gunduz. “Kevin started with function in order to save the house, then he went into form.” The original roof and gables have been reconfigured with the addition of a second floor. To break up the façade, Browne added a gabled dormer and an entry portico with a metal-roofed triangular pediment. “We were tying into an existing house with existing windows, so the goal was to blend in with the design that was in place — the proportions of the window panes had to look like they were part of the original house,” says Browne. The Anderson 400 Series windows he specced help maintain a tight building envelope, while spray foam insulation improves heat retention and addresses ice dams.
Round stationary window: Portland Architectural Salvage
Originally, the kitchen abutted the living room, which meant social time in the latter was interrupted by the clang of pots and pans in the former. A little-used formal dining room was tucked behind the kitchen.
To increase the distance between the living and cooking zones, the team removed the wall that separated the former dining room and put a new kitchen in its place. Aesthetically, Carey Goltz, principal of Design Concepts, the Portland firm responsible for both the build and the interiors, went for a contemporary-rustic look. Here, the balance is visible in the sleek seeded-glass-and-bronze pendants and juxtaposition of white cabinetry and custom-fabricated granite countertops with reclaimed wood on the beams and island base, birch flooring with a chestnut stain, and a pantry door sourced from an old office building in Lewiston. To compensate for the lower ceilings and reduction in natural light imposed by the second-floor addition, Goltz added more recessed fixtures.
“The goal was to make this house feel more open, from the entry on,” says Browne, noting that the interior transom lends architectural interest without cramping the space. Browne and Gunduz worked together to design the island, the curve of which is meant to guide guests toward the dining area rather than to the bottom of the stairs, which jut out a bit beyond what was anticipated.
Transom: Rusted Puffin Metal Works
Situated where the kitchen used to be, the barn-board dining table Worsley inherited from her mother is now a focal point and facilitates family dinners. The former dining room felt small and stuffy, so the couple and their kids tended to eat in the kitchen, says Gunduz. Since the renovation, “we’ve had every single supper at that table.”
Chandelier: Design Concepts
In addition to being too close to the kitchen, the living room suffered from a light imbalance, with all of the windows concentrated on the south east side.
Two awning windows were located on either side of the fireplace to give the family a sightline to their gardens. “They love the outdoors, so we tried to add as much light as we could,” says Goltz, noting that the new fenestration also finishes off this end of the house on the exterior.
On the newly added second floor, two windows in the stairwell — set low to accommodate the roofline — let in northeast light, while skylights and a large picture window to the east maximize the elevated view.
Standing at the porcelain-topped sinks in their new master bath, Gunduz and Worsley can enjoy all manner of Maine weather, captured in a stretch of windows, while no longer worrying about it encroaching.