ABOVE A pine wall with a feed hatch sets off the entry in Keith and Lauren Rosenberg’s Portland carriage-house-turned-guest-quarters.
TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN LITTLE
Architect Lauren Rosenberg and her husband, Keith, a doctor, planned to turn the sprawling second floor of their late-19th-century Portland carriage house into a guest apartment for their parents. But when they realized that interventions such as insulating the roof and carving out a new staircase would compromise the building’s historic character, they opted to transform a 400-square-foot former grooming area on the ground floor instead. Sequestered at one end of the brick structure, with its own entrance, the hexagonal space provided an opportunity to create a snug getaway that “still feels like you’re in the stable,” Keith says.
When the Rosenbergs purchased their 1905 brick Colonial Revival, designed by famed local architect John Calvin Stevens, in 2017, its older outbuilding still contained piles of antique bridles and tools. The grooming area was open, save for a small feed closet and coachman’s office near the entrance, with concrete flooring, southern-yellow-pine beadboard on the walls and 10-foot-tall ceiling, and a massive doorway that allowed horses to access their stalls in the adjacent garage. Lauren worked with contractor Rob Lieber, of Peaks Island, who installed era-appropriate heart-pine flooring, removed, cleaned, and refinished all of the beadboard with molasses-colored shellac similar to the original, and covered the horses’ door with salvaged paneling. A wall with a feed hatch from the now-demolished coachman’s office divides the entryway from the living/kitchen/dining area. In back, a bedroom juxtaposes exposed brick with the pine and a minimalist bath features a modern take on Victorian toile wallpaper.
The Rosenbergs’ main home contains a (non-working) antique intercom system with buttons for “stable.” But there’s a much stronger connection to the place now. When their parents are in town, the couple’s children, ages 2, 4, and 6, head out to the carriage house every morning, “this little train of three kids in their pajamas,” Lauren says. “They love that their grandparents are out there.” And, says Keith, “that they get snacks they wouldn’t be allowed to have in our house.”