Mod Modular - Custom Modular Home

Maine Home + Design

September 2016

MHD_July_Drawing Board-2This custom modular home nestled on wooded acreage features a 1,800-square-foot interior with an additional 800 square feet of outdoor living space in the form of a deck and porches. Kevin Browne Architecture in Falmouth, in collaboration with Oxford’s Schiavi Custom Builders, developed a design with piers and a small foundation with the intention of minimizing the home’s impact on the site. The vertical siding and piers mimic the lines of the surrounding forest, giving the structure a youthful, treehouse feel. Upon entering from the suspended entry porch, you are welcomed by the sophistication of an open-concept layout, where the boundaries delineating indoors from out are indistinct. A screened-in living room on the main level and a sleeping porch adjacent to the owners’ suite on the second level offer magical places to nap or read.

The home’s eco-friendly features go beyond its solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling systems, LED lighting, and low-maintenance eastern white cedar cladding: the factory- controlled modular building process generates a quarter of the materials waste of conventional construction. With 90 percent of construction taking place in the factory, traffic to and from the site is also greatly diminished.

Modern On The Marsh

Maine Home + Design

March 2016

An energy-efficient Cape Elizabeth home is minimalist in style, maximizing openness and views

MHD_March 16_ FEAUTURE_ Modern on The Marsh-2As elementary-school maxims go, “It never hurts to ask” is one that holds up into adulthood. At least that was the hope of Jeffrey Maine and Andrew Phan when they found themselves in Falmouth one day, ogling the contemporary lines of a recently built house. Rather than admire it quietly, they walked right up to the front door to inquire about the architect and builder. The homeowners, Catherine and Jonathan Culley of Portland-based Redfern Properties, were happy to share: they were the builders, it turned out, and they had worked with Falmouth architect Kevin Browne on the design. “It seemed like the stars were aligned,” recalls Maine of their meeting. After interviews with five architects and several builders, the couple decided to hire Browne and Redfern Properties for the design and construction of their own home. (One might recall another maxim about imitation and flattery.)

Aside from Jeff’s last name, the couple had no connection to Maine prior to moving here. No family ties, no longtime vacation spot, just a deep love and respect for the way of living, the landscape, and the independent spirit the state is known for. Maine, a lawyer, and Phan, a physician, had moved from Texas and were looking for a better balance of work and leisure and greater access to the outdoors. In Maine, they had a feeling they would find everything they were looking for and more.

After living in Falmouth in a house surrounded by tall trees (“lovely, but a bit claustrophobic,” admits Maine) the couple was looking to build on a vacant lot with open water or pastoral views and few trees so they could capture solar energy. They found just what they were looking for in Cape Elizabeth: a piece of land with panoramic views of neighboring Jordan’s Farm and the ever-changing marsh.

Browne’s first task was siting the house on the property to maximize these views and showcase the historic Spurwink Church, while minimizing glimpses of the neighboring homes. “It was a balancing act, as we also sought the best sun angles for passive solar,” says Browne. As a result, most of the glazing is on the south and west sides of the house, while the north side, which faces the neighbors, features minimal windows. The kitchen and dining room were designed to face the marsh, as was the owners’ bedroom, with corner windows that take in the same view from a higher vantage point.

Inspired by the agricultural setting, Maine and Phan envisioned a design loosely based on a farmhouse but with a modern sensibility. “We wanted the exterior to have clean lines and a neutral color palette harmonious with the surrounding landscape,” says Maine. After first considering opposing rooflines, Browne ultimately designed four white clapboard gable forms that start small at the garage and get larger at the main part of the house. Simple pitched roofs and the wide spacing of the clapboards enhance the contemporary feeling. “We wanted to break up the garage and make this more of a linear house,” says Browne. The two primary structures are identical in size and bisected by a windowed, flat-roofed transept clad in stained cedar siding for contrast and to mimic the changing hues of the marsh grasses.

“To us, contemporary, minimalist design and neutral tones provide a calm feeling,” says Maine. Inside the home, crown moulding and other ornamentation are foregone in favor of simple wood windowsills and drywall returns at the windows and doors, white walls, and low-profile furniture in neutral colors. These elements cut down on distractions, allowing for expansive, unobstructed views of the landscape. High interior ceilings and large windows and sliding doors further emphasize the setting and eliminate barriers between indoor and outdoor living, so that the patios and terraces are an extension of the indoor living space. Browne also minimized the number of walls, doors, and hallways to ease transitions from one area to the next and to encourage interaction— in the open kitchen/dining/living area, of course, but also in smaller spaces, like the walk-in pantry, the closets and bath open to the owners’ bedroom, and an upstairs office space that allows conversation between upstairs and downstairs. “Having lived in a traditional colonial house and now a contemporary house, we can honestly say that modern home living seems easier, more functional,” says Maine.

To add some focal points to the streamlined palette, Browne incorporated a few “wow” factors: a floating steel-and-wood stairway bisects the main house from front to back and can be viewed from most areas on the ground floor; a catwalk crafted from the same materials bridges the interior space of the two main gable forms; and an elevated foyer at the entry leads to the first floor.

High on Phan’s wish list was a large kitchen with plenty of space to entertain guests while cooking. Designed by Tina Rodda of Kitchen Cove Cabinetry and Design in Portland, the room contains a 14-foot island with eight stools. There is a separate bar area for drink preparation. Among Maine’s must-haves were the in-ground pool and, for the couple’s many visiting friends and family members, bathrooms in each of the bedrooms.

Outside, landscape architect Soren DeNiord of Soren DeNiord Design Studio in Portland and landscape contractor Keith Stone of Pinnacle Landscape and Design in Cumberland incorporated low-maintenance materials—stone and river rocks— as well as ornamental plants that simulate elements in the marsh and provide the Zen-like feeling the homeowners were looking for. Geometric motifs— rectangular pool and patios; square hot tub and gas fire pit; and plant beds in both shapes—mirror the design of the home.

It takes a certain kind of mentality to live in a modern house. Some people might feel overly exposed coexisting with so much glass, but that doesn’t bother Maine and Phan: with the amount of sunlight streaming in, the winters don’t seem as harsh, says Maine. As for those who say contemporary architecture is too cold, the couple points to the elements they brought in to create warmth, including an earth-tone stained concrete floor, whitewashed oak floors and steps, and Scandinavian-inspired wood panels in the wine rack and under the kitchen island.

As for Maine the state, the couple is glad they moved their lives here. “We couldn’t have picked a better place to live,” says Maine. Evidence of one last, especially useful maxim: Trust your gut.

Masters of Architecture

Maine Home + Design

December 2015

Masters of Arch.smallSet atop a bluff sloping down to Casco Bay, this gambrel-style cottage was one of the first homes on Cousins Island. Built in 1905, the cottage was originally designed for an executive in charge of building the railroad up through Maine. The current homeowners asked Kevin Browne Architecture to preserve the character of this historic cottage while expanding on it to create a cozy four-season cottage for their family and extended family for years to come. The goal? To make the most of the lot and the water views. The property is situated to get a full view of the sunsets over coastal waters, which isn’t common along the coast of Maine. The existing cottage and garage were in rough shape and had been added on to haphazardly over the years. The first step in the redesign of the main cottage was to create a softened gambrel roofline that runs straight through to the water side of the cottage. On the first floor of the main cottage, a deep covered porch on the water side of the house was continued to create a wraparound porch. The homeowners wanted to preserve the high ceilings and beadboard walls of the interior spaces of the first floor, so only updates for modern conveniences were Masters of Arch bunk.smallmade. The existing garage, pieced together in the early ’80s, was removed and replaced with a gambrel style carriage house, connected to the main cottage as an extension of the porch. Since the home was originally built as a seasonal cottage, many of the renovations included energy-efficient upgrades such as closed-cell spray foam in the walls, ceilings, and floors. In addition, all windows were replaced with low-e windows, and the existing heating system was replaced with high-efficiency heat pump units.

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.