ABOVE The Ritters, their kids, and six grandkids can all gather on the 570-square-foot screened porch — on all-weather wicker seating and cedar benches surrounding a coffee table James crafted, at a cedar dining/Ping-Pong/quilting table he made, and at a smaller antique table. The polished-concrete floor is easy to sweep.
TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY DARREN SETLOW
In 50 years, James Ritter has only missed two summers in Maine’s lakes region. He was 12 when his family first stayed with friends who owned an 11-cabin former girls’ camp there, kicking off a tradition that saw the same guests returning year after year. Eventually, his wife, Catherine, and their three kids became members of what the camp owners called “Vacation Club.” Then, in 2011, the Connecticut-based Ritters found their own former girls’ camp: a 40-acre lakefront parcel with three cabins, a lodge, and a onetime infirmary that had been split off from a larger YWCA compound. For years, they dreamed of building a souped-up main cottage, recording their ideas on sticky notes during a “corporate brainstorming moment” with their kids. With help from Boothbay/Portland design-build firm Knickerbocker Group, that vision is now a blissful reality.
Knickerbocker Group architect Rick Nelson designed the gabled front portion of the camp, encompassing a mudroom, living/kitchen area, and screened porch, to blend with the existing cabins, while the rear wing, housing a dining room and a pair of bedrooms and baths, nods to sleek Scandinavian forms the Ritters are fond of. Six-foot-tall living room windows frame the lake and surrounding pines, which site manager Derek Libby’s crew scarcely disturbed when erecting the home in the spot where the YWCA lodge had been.
Knickerbocker architect/interior designer Leah Lippmann carried sand and lichen shades from the beach and woods into the kitchen, which has white-oak cabinetry and flooring, a tawny, granite-topped island painted in Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke, and gray-green ceramic tile from Portland’s Old Port Specialty Tile. Black hardware and inky-granite countertops provide bold counterpoints.
Granite remnants from the property serve as steps, a screened-porch hearth, and an entry-porch post. Beyond the paneled wall, painted in Green Smoke and accented by a painting by West Bath’s Anne Ireland, is a mudroom/bath/laundry room sequence pulled from the family’s sticky-note wish list. Dewey’s Lumber & Cedar Mill, in Liberty, supplied the home’s northern-white-cedar timbers.
The Ritters’ grandchildren do crafts on the screened porch, set off with panels from Waldoboro’s Wooden Screen Door Company, and Catherine hopes to someday quilt with her daughters there. But with six kids ages 6 and under in the mix, “we’re not there yet,” she says.
A sliding barn door the family calls the “Nana Door” separates the dining room from the bedroom wing. In the morning, “everyone knows not to go past until Nana opens it,” says Catherine, a late sleeper. James made the hickory bed in the compound’s infirmary turned workshop, and Catherine purchased the quilt when the couple lived in Brussels. Comprising 25,000 tiny triangles, “it’s my prized possession.”
Strategically placed awning windows allow for privacy and lake views in the owners’ bath, furnished with a Pottery Barn distressed-poplar-and-Carrara-marble vanity and porcelain and ceramic tile from Old Port Specialty Tile. Benjamin Moore’s White Dove on the walls throughout the home makes the exterior blues and greens pop.
A granite fireplace assembled by Isaac N. Labbe Masonry, in Standish, and a corner bench with a quilt by Catherine’s great-grandmother form a cozy reading nook. Decoys from James’s dad that have moved with the couple 14 times now have a permanent perch on the reclaimed-oak mantel. “We’re not really from anywhere,” says James, who relocated often for work. “So this is home to us.”