We designed this vacation cottage retreat in Camden, Maine, for a sophisticated couple who divide their time the rest of the year between New York and Boston. Consisting of a 3,300 square foot barn-style cottage, a separate yoga and mediation studio, and a garage and bicycle shed, the three structures form a compound organized around a small courtyard.

The land was originally part of a large, turn-of-the-century estate that stretched from a hilltop above the site all the way down to the water below it. Our clients purchased the lower lot of the recently subdivided property, and we designed a cottage and outbuildings for the site to be sheltered from the adjacent houses by organizing all of the structures around a small farm court, as if these buildings had once been part of the old estate. This allowed us to create a unique and private experience on an otherwise open street by focusing views into the new farm courtyard, up to the rising wooded hillside to the west, and out to the sea down below the compound to the east.

Three sets of French doors open into the Cottage’s lower-level entry hall, filling the space with light from the garden courtyard just outside. The lower level also contains a mudroom, laundry and storage rooms and a charming guest suite, while the upper level holds all of the entertaining spaces and the master suite.

The primary entertaining space—a tall timber-framed great room—is lined with reclaimed antique barn boards and capped with hand-hewn oak trusses. French doors lead out to a screened porch on one side and overlook the courtyard on the other. Transom windows over the doorways add an airiness to the space, which is anchored by a large granite chimney piece with a monolithic granite hearthstone. 

The great room, the kitchen, and the master suite are all located on the cottage’s upper floor, which engages with a garden on the cottage’s west side. Because the cottage has been built into the hillside site, it enabled us to create engaging garden spaces on each level, while its interiors are filled with light and a sense of connection to nature.

The cottage’s lower level also contains an additional bedroom which opens out to a small fenced cutting garden, as well as a laundry and storage rooms.

Granite stepping stones set into the grass lead from the parking area into the farm courtyard and also provide access to the stone staircase leading up to the property’s upper level. A series of cascading fountain pools—inspired by the clients’ travels in Japan and designed by Mohr & Seredin Landscape Architects—transition from the upper to lower levels, with enormous granite treads descending into the farm courtyard from the entry path. 

The long granite trough reflecting pool, surrounded by fruiting apple trees, is the centerpiece of the farm courtyard, beautifully designed by Mohr & Seredin. It anchors the space and centers on the entry doors into the rambling, bank-barn cottage. 

To read more about this compound and guest cottage, please read the House Beautiful feature here >

Decorator: G.P. Schafer Architect
Landscape Architect: Mohr & Seredin
General Contractor: Cold Mountain Builders

Photography: Eric Piasecki
Styling: Helen Crowther