Something Old, Something New
Barba + Wheelock Architecture works with a Bremen couple to preserve the past, look toward the future.
In 2002, a thirteen-acre rural lakeside property in Bremen featured three seemingly disparate structures: a teahouse, a salvaged nineteenth-century carriage barn, and a boathouse. Most of the buildings dated back to the 1930s. Looking to live on the site full-time, the owners of the property sought to add a new residence, but in a fresh style that would still blend with the rest of the compound.
Working together with the Portland-based firm of Barba + Wheelock, the homeowners managed to combine all the elements to create a cohesive midcoast retreat.
The project became distinctively collaborative, with both owners contributing to the design. "One of the owners is a skilled craftsman and was able to envision and create all of the interior moldings in the classical style," Barba explains.
The other owner created the modern interior design of one of the home's two wings.
Barba characterizes the structure as a "tripartite design with central block and flanking wings." The two wings share the same basic form, both featuring a bedroom and bathroom. Yet they represent different styles - one is decidedly modern, while the other has elements of traditional architecture.
"The modern wing could be right out of dwell magazine," says Barba. This light-filled space features plenty of glass and fewer decorations than its traditional counterpart. The traditional wing, centered around a Palladian window, displays a rich color palette, built-in bookshelves, and a fireplace. A two-story central hall, featuring living, dining, kitchen and guest loft, unites the two wings. "With a strong form to carry it, the different sides of the house do coalesce," says Barba. "The two wings have a distinctive feeling and ambiance."
The formal entrance facade features a colonnade with Tuscan-order columns, while the wood trim, columns, and metal roof combine for a traditional exterior. The residence is oriented toward the other structures, rather than the water, although the kitchen and bedrooms still enjoy the view. Three bedrooms and two and a half-baths share are included in the overall floor area of the structure, which measures 2,800 square feet.
Barba, whose firm specializes in designing public buildings, characterizes home design as slightly different. "Residential projects are much more intimate. You're trying to bring out the homeowner's passion and vision - myriad details have to be worked through." She says a close working relationship with the clients allows for greater collaboration in the overall design. For this Bremen home, the firm was especially lucky, with two owners who were successfully able to implement their own visions and produce a dwelling that is as interesting as it is liveable.
When architects meet with clients, the wish list of design characteristics and functions that follows is known as the architectural program. In this exclusive online series, Maine architects explain how they and their clients play the program to their mutual delight.For more information, view
Barba + Wheelock Architecture, Preservation + Design
- By: Emily Parker
- Photography by: Sandy Agrafiotis