A Shingled Forest Retreat Is Fit For the Changing Seasons

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By Anna Squier
Set at the edge of Acadia National Park in Maine, Somes Sound House is a shingle-clad vacation home with winter and summer volumes.

The clients, a family with two young boys, had camped on this undeveloped property at the edge of Acadia National Park for many years before engaging Matthew Baird Architects, wanting a forest retreat that would tread lightly on the site and embrace the natural surroundings. The architects devised a solution, known as the Somes Sound House, with summer and winter wings that take advantage of the directional views and forested land. 

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The two, season-specific wings of the L-shaped plan are separated by a covered breezeway.

The two, season-specific wings of the L-shaped plan are separated by a covered breezeway.

The textured facade playfully displays light and shadows as the sun moves throughout the day and seasons.  The framed breezeway reaches outward to the fjord.

The textured facade playfully displays light and shadows as the sun moves throughout the day and seasons. The framed breezeway reaches outward to the fjord.

A simple, L-shaped plan is made up of the two seasonal wings, separated by a breezeway. The winterized volume, which accommodates the entire family during the colder seasons, is the larger of the two, rising to a vertical and tall facade on the eastern, mountain side of the house. The shared spaces—kitchen, dining room, and living room—fill the main floor of this volume, in addition to a quaint sleeping loft tucked into the eaves of the open volume. A master retreat sits atop the sloping volume high in the trees. 

Somes Sound House Main Floor Plan

Somes Sound House Main Floor Plan

Somes Sound House Upper Floor Plan 

Somes Sound House Upper Floor Plan 

A light, bright interior is filled with natural materials and white, subdued accents.  Large windows look out towards the only fjord on the eastern seaboard. 

A light, bright interior is filled with natural materials and white, subdued accents. Large windows look out towards the only fjord on the eastern seaboard. 

The kitchen was a modern, IKEA cabinet solution customized with Corian counters, a subway tile backsplash, and a custom island with a knee panel of whitewashed wood.

The kitchen was a modern, IKEA cabinet solution customized with Corian counters, a subway tile backsplash, and a custom island with a knee panel of whitewashed wood.

Wood-clad stair treads and risers are accented by an open, framed wood wall and stone fireplace. The interiors are an assemblage of minimal, raw materials. 

Wood-clad stair treads and risers are accented by an open, framed wood wall and stone fireplace. The interiors are an assemblage of minimal, raw materials. 

The large windows in the master bedroom provide the feeling of sleeping within the tree tops.

The large windows in the master bedroom provide the feeling of sleeping within the tree tops.

The second wing, which is a sleeping wing for summer use, contains two sleeping units connected by a jack-and-jill bath.  A small retreat at the end of the wing, with expansive sea and forest views, is a quiet escape for the owner and writer. All circulation is exterior, further emphasizing the engagement with the surroundings as you pass between the two volumes. 

On the south, a deep overhang protects the living room from the summer sun, while providing coverage to the outdoor elements.

On the south, a deep overhang protects the living room from the summer sun, while providing coverage to the outdoor elements.

The home fully embraces the natural setting, reaching out and embracing the natural wonders.

The home fully embraces the natural setting, reaching out and embracing the natural wonders.

Natural materials quietly settle the vacation home into its surroundings. Set on what had once been a granite quarry, the deck and building volumes rest on stilts, hovering gently over the land. Clad in untreated white cedar shingles, the home is a resemblance of the forested land upon which it sits. 

On the interior, pickled wood creates light-filled living spaces. Salvaged wood from existing trees makes an appearance in the custom dining table and wood ceiling panels—a modest expression of natural wonders blended into architecture. 

The shingled exterior will weather over time, further camouflaging the building into its surroundings.

The shingled exterior will weather over time, further camouflaging the building into its surroundings.

Gently sloping roofs reach towards the water to the west, and the mountains to the east, reacting to the scenery adjacent to it. 

Gently sloping roofs reach towards the water to the west, and the mountains to the east, reacting to the scenery adjacent to it. 


Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Matthew Baird Architects / @matthewbairdarchitects