Living Large in 900 Square Feet

900-square-foot home on Kittery Point
From the March 2018 issue of Down East magazine

Tricia Tobey has been in love with her home on Kittery Point since she was a kid. Not the house itself — that’s relatively new — but the lot, where once sat a rental belonging to her grandparents. “That’s my house!” young Tricia would say, but when her wish finally came true, in 2008, she found the Cape to be in such disrepair that tearing it down and starting over made sense. In its place, she and her partner, John Jarnagin, have built a hipped-roof, multi-dormered bungalow. Thanks to her elegant, space-maximizing design, the 30­–by–30–foot abode performs like a much bigger house.

The Living Room  Living Room

South-facing windows look out on Chauncey Creek and flood the home with soft, natural light. “We don’t have to have lights on during the day, even in winter,” Tobey says. Neutral walls and light-colored drapes and furniture, from Hickory Chair Furniture, contribute to the airiness and defer to the view. “I didn’t want to take away from what was going on outside.” Even the enameled cast-iron woodstove is white. The super-insulated house is otherwise powered by electricity, much of it generated by 24 solar panels installed on a garage built last year. A residential and commercial interior designer with an office in Portsmouth, Tobey previously worked as a designer for an HVAC firm, where she gained enough understanding of plumbing and electrical systems to plan those for her own house.


The Bookshelf

Portsmouth woodworker James Rowe built this walnut bookshelf, which stretches from the second-floor master bedroom suite to a cupola, where there’s a small reading room. “I’m still working on filling the shelves,” Tobey says, laughing. She found the vintage library ladder at an architectural salvage store in Vermont. A second bedroom suite is in the walkout basement. Both suites have a full bathroom and a washer and dryer.


The Kitchen

An open floor plan and efficient kitchen allow Tobey and Jarnagin to feed their extended family comfortably — dinner for 30 people (and their dogs) isn’t unusual. To preserve the view, they forewent upper cabinets. They keep only cookware that they use regularly, storing most of it in the island, which is crowned with a cooktop and walnut countertop. On either side of the corner sink are two dishwashers, an ice drawer, and additional storage. The worktop is Carrara marble. A double wall oven is in an adjacent canning pantry. Scuffs and scratches blend into the white-oak floor’s pickled finish. “It’s great for dogs because it shows no damage at all,” Tobey says.


The Bathroom

When Tobey and Jarnagin merged households, they had to make tough decisions about duplicate belongings. Her expandable dining table was better suited to entertaining, but his beautiful old farm table held sentimental value for his family. It was Tobey’s idea to cut it in half lengthwise to build a vanity — but only after John’s children gave their blessing. “I try to mix old and new so even a new house has some history,” she says. “I like houses to feel like they’ve been collected over time.” A short, narrow portion of the old piece lives in the adjoining master bedroom, where it serves as an accent table.


The Closet

The master bedroom’s walnut chevron floor extends into Tobey’s closet, which is tucked in a dormer. The jewelry box under the window is a repurposed antique tool chest. Tobey’s dad made the clothes racks from plumbing pipes. At 12 by 12 feet, the closet is about the same size as the bedroom itself, and it’s Tobey’s alone. “John’s not allowed in here,” she jokes. “This is what happens when you have a woman design a closet!”


  1. Great looking layout, would like to see floor plans, it’s difficult to understand the plan with the pictures provided

  2. Marylou

    thanks for sharing this lovely home. is the floor plan available somewhere?

  3. Kathleen

    I, too, would like to know if the floorplan is available. Thanks.

  4. Kathleen

    I, too, would like to know if the floor plan is available. Thanks.




    Is this house for sale and if it is, does it come furnished? price please

  7. Carol

    Love this house! I’d buy it in a heartbeat!

  8. Kathryn

    I am envious! I would like this to be my house, too. Very interesting article–thanks.

  9. Patricia

    very welcoming and cozy. as a person looking to downsize i also want to be on one floor. hoping to see one level inspiration in the future as well.

  10. Bonny Pope

    Same thoughts, lovely views of room vignettes but they “ flas” quickly and it’s difficult to get a sense of how this 900 ft. Home is laid out. Many nice details.

  11. Victoria Charkut

    Very nice indeed. We are just finishing our Owls Head cottage. We had a 1,000 square foot restriction but that included
    the back deck and front porch! Can you imagine? So unfortunately we are lacking space for big closets and our kitchen is
    very small. I wish we could have built UP but it wasn’t allowed! Beautiful views though, and our beach is just a few feet away.
    Maine is The Best!

  12. Kelly

    I’d love to see a floor plan too & agree the photos are hard to follow. Beautiful home & story!

  13. Sarah Stebbins

    Hi guys, thank you for the positive feedback on this house! It is not for sale, unfortunately, but the owner is happy to provide floor plans. If you would like these, please e-mail me at [email protected] and I will forward them. Thanks again.

  14. Cat

    Oh My Gosh…… I’m so in love with this house! Is it for sale? If not why would you torture us so”

  15. Linda

    this home is perfect……enjoy your time there…..

  16. Mari Jo Corley

    I would love to have the floor plans to this beautiful home. Also, are the blueprints available for purchase? Is the issue that this house was featured in still available for purchase?

  17. Marilyn

    Would love to know all that you care to share. Floor-plan, amount of time it took to build it from demolition to completion, costs involved and current value of home. It’s a delightful place.

  18. Susan

    Love this and agree with above comments. Where are these being built and what
    Price range.?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *