Art At Home

Maine Home + Design

January, 2016

Art Guide 2016_kevin browne-4“The Carriage house is an extension of the home’s living space, and so they are both connected with a bridge.  The landscaping – patios and a meandering path with stone steps – draws you under that bridge and leads you to the water’s edge.  The colors in the artwork are the same shades that you see looking out from the home.  Its a similar viewpoint.”

-Kevin Browne, Kevin Browne Architecture


Ring in the New

Maine Home + Design

January 2015

kba-ring-in-the-new-01The owners of this mountaintop property in Bridgton hired Kevin Browne Architecture to design a home that is simple, contemporary, energy-efficient, low maintenance, and designed with a minimal carbon footprint and budget in mind. The property’s south-facing view includes an incredible vista down to Hancock Pond and beyond to the mountains. This 2,200-square-foot home will incorporate many passive solar techniques. The long axis will be positioned east-west to maximize the home’s solar orientation. The south side of the home will include the maximum amount of windows, with significantly lesser amounts on the east, west, and north sides. Two-thirds of the home will be a slab-on-grade with the stained concrete slab being the finished floor as well as a thermal mass that is heated by the sunlight filling the main living area through the south-facing windows. The south-facing windows will have appropriately designed overhangs that allow sunlight to penetrate deep into the main living spaces but shade those spaces in the height of the summer months. Solar panels covering the south-facing roofs will be used to run the high-efficiency heat pumps that heat and cool the home. In addition to the R-5 triple-glazed windows, the rest of the building envelope was paid close attention to, with the budget in mind. The walls will be R-30, the roof will be R-50, and under the slab will be R-20. When the project is complete, the homeowners will have a house sized right for simple living with minimal maintenance and minimal use of fossil fuels.

Contemporary Farmhouse With A Twist

Maine Home + Design

April 2014

Kevin Browne Architecture is working with the clients on this piece of land in a desirable part of Falmouth. This location was very appealing to them because it is located only a few streets away from where they currently live. Their goal setting out was to create a farmhouse with a contemporary flair that would be open and comfortable for their family and entertaining. They also wanted to maximize the solar orientation to the south and create sun-filled spaces that would naturally warm up those areas. The design answer to these goals has developed into a plan that has a few twists because of the challenging building envelope of the site and the desire to maximize southern exposure. The house is situated close to the street side of the lot to preserve the backyard for family sports and outdoor living spaces. The massing of the home will be broken into a few forms reminiscent of the farmhouse vernacular. The mix of cedar shingles, white clapboards, and standing-seam metal roof will help define these forms and style. The deep covered “farmer’s porch” is a defining element of the house that will help visually connect the garage end of the house to the rest of the house. The openconcept floor plan on the first floor will create comfortable areas for the family and will be well suited for entertaining. The back of the house will create a “summertime haven” for the family with a screened porch for dining and relaxing and an open patio area with fire pit. The second floor of the home will feature four bedrooms and three bathrooms. This includes a generous master suite and also features a bedroom suite between the rooms of the clients’ two daughters, who are close in age. Once built, this family of five will have a home that will be the center of many lifetime memories.

Simple, Sun-Filled Studio

Maine Home + Design

December 2013

mhd-dec-2013-01mhd-dec-2013-02Although the commute to Kevin Browne Architecture’s office in Yarmouth was only 25 minutes, the architect sought a closer, more comfortable space on his own property. The result is a simple, sun-filled, energy-efficient space that showcases Browne’s style of mixing old and new in form and materials. Browne teamed up with Dan Meyer of Meyer Development Solutions to construct this 16- by 24-foot structure in a cost-effective way. The floor plan was kept wide open with a cathedral ceiling. A full daylight garage below the office provides overflow storage for the adjacent home. A portion of the open plan carved out for a small bath defines the spaces. Douglas fir beams help lower the height of the tall ceiling. The warmth of natural, rough-cut wood gives the space a cozy feeling, and the beams frame out a space above the work area that supports an 8- by 11-foot net that can be used for overflow sleeping (or as a fun place for the kids to hang out when Dad has to work late).

mhd-dec-2013-03The simple, understated trim on the interior keeps the focus on the natural features of the rural property through oversized low-e windows. Photovoltaic solar panels on the south-facing roof help to offset the electrical load of the house, as well as totally offsetting the heating and cooling loads of the office. A blowerdoor test was done and an infrared camera was used to make sure all the air leakage areas were sealed up.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Maine Home + Design

October 2013

New England has an undeniable draw that is amplified, in part, by its quaintness. The narrow streets, the way the roads lay out through the towns and villages, the classic architecture that dots the landscape. These things, says architect Kevin Browne, are what make New England New England. “Many of the homes that form these towns and villages have been standing and functioning for more than 100 years,” he says. “For me as an architect, they provide inspiration for designing to help preserve that feeling of ‘quaintness.’” The goal of Browne’s work is not necessarily to recreate these historical structures, but to build on the design of the past with modern architecture to create a new, timeless vernacular that will help to form a style for the next 100 years.

Q: How do you decide whether to renovate or raze a historic home?
A: We see many homes that are nearing the end of their lifespan, but then there are many homes that still have “good bones” and have several years of life left in them. We strive to keep the integrity of these structures when we renovate them while giving them a new life to withstand the demands of modern-day living. Often unique elements come about with the meshing of new and old. Of course there are those projects that call for extensive renovations, and then we have to ask whether it’s worth saving a couple walls that are out of square and plumb, or if it’s more cost-effective to build new, replicating some of the pieces that would have been left. It is a tough decision to completely tear down a structure that may be steeped in history and memories. What will be lost is the weathered character of those original pieces, not to mention the story behind the way it may have been built.

Q: What’s a recent project example?
A: One example of this type of renovation was a project on Cousins Island in Yarmouth. Built in 1905, the cottage was once occupied in the summers by Sir Henry Worth Thornton, the president of the Canadian National Railways, who was credited for modernizing the railways throughout Canada. The owners of the property had hopes of preserving the character of this cottage and expanding on it to create a cozy four-season cottage for their family and extended family for years to come. The existing cottage and garage were in rough shape and had been added onto half-heartily over the years. The gambrel lines and deepcovered porches were what drew the clients to this property. We built upon the existing lines of the house, creating a wrap-around porch to “ground” it more. We also created a cross-gambrel structure perpendicular to the existing gambrel roof, matching the roof pitches. Other changes included energy-efficient upgrades since it was originally built as a seasonal cottage, including closedcell spray foam in the walls, ceilings, and floors, low-E window replacements, and a high-efficient heating system upgrade. These are just a few examples of some of the design integrations that were built upon this aging structure to continue its lifespan.

Q: What about new construction— how do you respect the historic context when designing a new structure?
A: Our design approach is the same, whether it’s a new construction or renovation. We create timeless architecture inspired by the classic New England vernacular of the past by creating a new style that will integrate many modern-day amenities and efficiencies. Not recreating history but paying homage to it. We may do that with window design, building massing, choice of materials, or the fine detailing. Even the most modern projects that we work on have some aspect of the traditional New England “look” that so many people adore. One example of this is a recent project on the Presumpscot River in Falmouth. The clients came to KBA looking for a crisp, simple, contemporary farmhouse. The answer to their dreams was a house that was a series of two-story simple gable forms that were similar in size and scale (if not the same)—reminiscent of the massing of early barns and farmhouses. These forms were clad in white clapboards with a much wider exposure, giving a more contemporary feel. Added to these main forms were forms clad in white cedar shingles to break up the wide expanse of white clapboards. The windows were over scale 2 over 2, black, double-hung windows. The overhang, rakes, eave, and window trim were downplayed on the gable forms and almost non-existent to create a crisp feel to the home. Finally the forms were topped off with a contrasting, dark gray, standing-seam metal roof to shed the snow of the long New England winters. This modern-day farmhouse was quite a bit more energy-efficient than the drafty farmhouses of the past 100 or so years. An ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) foundation, Dense-Pac Cellulose insulation with a high R-value, low-E windows, and radiant heat were also integrated for energy efficiency. These are just a few of the things that make this a comfortable home that will last for many years to come.

Contemporary Marsh View

Maine Home + Design

September 2013

The owners of this property on a marsh set out to create a home that maximized the 180-degree views. The lot—part of a small subdivision—is mostly free of trees and has a gradual grassy slope. The clients used a handful of adjectives to describe what they wanted in their home: crisp, contemporary, simple, innovative, minimalist, and energy efficient. Kevin Browne Architecture created a design that would embody these terms and more.

The resulting design features a simple series of white, clapboard, gable forms. The gable forms start small at the garage end of the house and grow larger at the main part of the house. The two main-house gable forms are identical in size and bisected by a flatroofed “transept” form. The “transept” is cladded in stained cedar tongue-and-groove siding to contrast the other forms of the house. The windows are also very simple, with a high U-value for better efficiency and low maintenance. Special attention was paid to the building’s thermal envelope to include high R-value insulation and also to minimize thermal bridging.

The interior is clean and minimal, with drywall returns at the window and door openings and a simple wood windowsill. A floating steel and wood stairway is a design focal point that will be visible from most areas of the open first-floor plan. At the top of these stairs is a steel and wood catwalk that bridges the interior space of the two main gable forms.

When complete, the homeowners will be able to entertain comfortably or just relax in their private backyard oasis.