By Sara Anne Donnelly
Photographs by Trent Bell
When Mary and Tom Albright were looking to downsize, their Realtor showed them the 1887 York Village train depot, which had been converted into a three-bedroom house in the 1970s. At 1,800 square feet — a third the size of their last place — it was a daunting readjustment, but the Albrights’ tickets were punched. “Growing up, we were taught that trains built this country,” says Mary, whose grandfather was a railroad manager. “This place just seemed right.”
But once they’d finished stripping the place to its studs (creating, to hear Tom tell it, “essentially a brand-new house”), there wasn’t money left over for the addition they’d planned. So together with Portland architect Caleb Johnson and a design team that included their daughter, Amy, the Albrights found creative ways to make the building’s narrow footprint work.
The Albrights wanted most of their living space to be on the first floor, but the house was narrow: all of 19 feet wide in most spots. Caleb Johnson compares the design process to outfitting a yacht. But when the Albrights suggested a cantilevered bump-out for the dining room, Johnson says, “the whole floor plan unlocked, and we discovered we did not need a huge addition.” The 65-square- foot bump-out is just wide enough to accommodate the couple’s Shaker-style dining table, in cherry to match the stain of the floors. Amy chose the pendant light from Connecticut-based design firm Waterworks.
Attic Guest Suite
The dormered attic serves as a guest suite, with two bedrooms, a playroom, and this bathroom, outfitted with a dormer seat facing the backyard. The Albrights chose hardware that’s true to the building’s Victorian roots, such as the bedrooms’ original glass doorknobs and the bath’s reproduction sink and fixtures. The Albrights even found room for Tom’s office up here, and the space only feels tight when all of their four children and seven grandchildren visit.
No walls separate the minimalist galley kitchen from the surrounding space, so when the Albrights’ children and grandchildren visit, they can fan out across the dining room, living room, and kitchen and still interact. The 8-foot-long cherry bar, designed by Caleb Johnson Studio, works for a quick nosh. Walls throughout the house are painted with Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White. It’s “a nice, open palette,” Mary says, that’s compatible with most furniture and art, like the black-and-white print by Maine luminary Dahlov Ipcar.
Broad sliding glass doors bring in light, and a floor- to-ceiling built-in cabinet takes advantage of 9 feet of overhead. “Even though it’s a small house,” says Tom, “you have the feeling of space because of these very high ceilings.” The Albrights’ interior decorator, Kittery’s Marcye Philbrook, designed the curtains. “Love, love,” Mary says. “They have a little squirrel and a bird — a nice nature pattern.” On warm days, music and games sometimes spill from the family room onto the deck, the lawn, and the treehouse beyond.
A wedding gift from Mary’s mother, the reproduction 18th- century cherry pencil- post bed dominates the Albrights’ 12-by- 12-foot bedroom. The pine-tree wallpaper is complemented by walls painted with Benjamin Moore Lemon Ice. The swing-arm wall lights are from Flushing Lighting. “The bedroom’s small, but it really is all we need,” Mary says. “It’s bright, it’s cozy, it’s easy.”