Janice Smith used to tease her cousin, contractor Cory Warren, that she was going to build a tiny house in his Freeport backyard. Last year, Warren built her one on three nearby acres instead. Working with Canadian architectural designer Pete Long, she dreamed up a 795-square-foot, two-bedroom cabin with a vaulted pine ceiling now offered as a downloadable building plan through Long’s company, RavenHouse Design. “If you’re looking to be closer to nature, you don’t need a mansion,” says the North Carolina-based Smith, who grew up summering on Sebec Lake, in Dover-Foxcroft. “A cabin feels cozier, like more of an escape.” A leather-bound guidebook includes Smith’s restaurant, brewery, and hiking recommendations, lobster-roll rankings, and book reviews by Cozy Rock’s Instagram followers, whose picks fill the loft-bedroom’s shelves. “The goal was, how can I send people to the right places so, when they leave, they love this town?” Smith says. From $269/night.
Portland native Kathleen Porter Kristiansen learned to appreciate the Norwegian concept of a hytte, or cabin, from her Norwegian husband. “It’s not necessarily on anything, but near a lake or mountains, so you can enjoy different things,” she says. Last year, she found a singular Maine equivalent: a 2,800-square-foot, 1982 geodesic dome on two acres in Bryant Pond, a short drive from Mt. Abram, Sunday River, and a smattering of ponds. Known to locals as “The Enchanted Dome,” it was a rental for 20 years before Porter Kristiansen, a travel writer who lives in Portland and London, took over. After installing a new earth-grazing roof, she juxtaposed whitewashed walls and art by Cumberland’s Sarah Madeira Day and Valerie Paul, of Stockton Springs, with the four-bedroom dome’s soaring pine ceiling. “It feels huge when you walk in,” she says. “But also cozy, like you’re being held in this womb-like structure.” From $325/night.
“You’re always making a fort when you’re a kid,” Portland’s Peter Valcourt says. “This is like that, a nice, warm pocket to hide in in the woods.” His 620-square-foot, earth-sheltered “hobbit house,” manufactured by Miami’s Green Magic Homes, joins three cedar tree houses on a 15-acre retreat on Springvale’s Littlefield Pond that Valcourt is developing with business partner Bryce Avallone. Warmth comes by way of radiant heat in the wood-like tile floor, a fieldstone electric fireplace, and heat pumps powered by 150 off-site solar panels. Custom arched pine doors, round windows, and splashes of green on shower tile, a glass kitchen pendant, and a living-room fern mural by Portland’s Todd Pearson convey a Middle-earth vibe. Completed this spring, the two-bedroom dome overlooks a patio with a hot tub and “water wall.” By the fall, Valcourt expects to finish a second hobbit house with a fieldstone floor and curved beams that he calls “hobbity-hobbity.” From $449/night.