November 25, 2012

Open House: A whole new out look

Once a low-slung clam shack, the new Joyce home in Biddeford Pool is tall enough to take in the views.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD - For about 10 years, Cathleen and Bob Joyce spent summers with their family in a converted clam shack in Biddeford Pool.

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Cathleen and Bob Joyce’s new home is a contemporary that faces the ocean on one side and “the pool” on the other.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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A postcard shows the former White Caps Seafood House.

Additional Photos Below


LOCATION: Near the water in Biddeford Pool

STYLE: Contemporary, narrow and tall, to take advantage of water views over the dunes

OWNER: Cathleen and Bob Joyce of Carlisle, Mass.

HISTORY: The lot had once been the spot of the White Caps Seafood House. The restaurant was converted to a house, and the Joyces bought the building in the late 1990s. They used it as a summer home for about 10 years before having it razed. They moved into the new home in 2011.

WHAT MAKES IT STAND OUT: Three-story height for views above the dunes. The views themselves are outstanding in every direction -- of the ocean, of the pool and of surrounding areas.

SURPRISING FEATURES: The second-floor living area is built with a wall of glass virtually all around. Guest bedrooms and the TV room/den are on the ground floor, because the views aren't as great there.


"OPEN HOUSE" is an occasional series in Home & Garden profiling eye-catching, historic or innovative homes around Maine.

TO SUBMIT a home for this series, contact Ray Routhier at or at 791-6454.

It had been known as White Caps Seafood House, and longtime residents would often tell the Joyces of their memories of the place. But because the place had been a seafood restaurant, it was on a main road and sort of hidden from the beach by a dune.

So eventually, the Joyces decided to raze the old place and build a newer, taller house that might let them peer over the dunes to the sea.

They hired architect Caleb Johnson of Caleb Johnson Architects + Builders in Biddeford to design them a functional summer house that could take advantage of the views up and down the beach and across the body of water known as "the pool" on the other side.

The challenge for Johnson was building a fairly spacious summer home -- it has four bedrooms -- while conforming to both zoning and environmental regulations. Not only is the house built near the beach and dunes, it's also built on a fairly confining old lot.

So Johnson designed a home that is long and narrow to conform with the lot, and is at the maximum allowed height -- more than 30 feet -- to take advantage of the views. He also put the guest bedrooms and a den in the bottom level, where the views are not sweeping. And he put the living area -- kitchen, dining space, living room, plus decks on both sides -- on the second floor.

The long sides of the living space, which face the ocean on one side and "the pool" on the other, are lined with windows. The third floor is the master bedroom.

"The house before was basically a long ranch, and so really for us, the priority was to build up and get the views," said Cathleen.

Besides the views, a focal point of the main living area is a dry-stack fireplace, with flat stones stacked as they might be in a stone wall outside. The same pattern can be seen on the outside of the house as well, where there's an outdoor fireplace made of the same kind of stones on a patio.

The practicality of the house shows up in the design. The Joyces' family and guests can come in from the beach, wipe off in the mudroom area and go directly to any of the three bedrooms on the ground floor. Then after changing or resting or whatever, they can go to the living area on the second floor.

By having the master bedroom on the third floor, the Joyces not only get nice views, they get a quiet sleeping area. There's a entire floor between them and their family or guests.

Although they wanted the views of the ocean, the couple and their family have found that being high up lets them discover views of the area they hadn't really appreciated before.

Bob, who works in construction, often finds himself sitting on the second-story balcony that faces away from the ocean. It overlooks the main road, the pool and surrounding areas, as well as some of the beach area north of the house.

"I like that side because it's often more interesting," he said. "People are going by. There's just a lot to see."

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

Twitter: RayRouthier


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Additional Photos

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The kitchen

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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The main living area

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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View from the back deck

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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The master bedroom

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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An exterior view of the home

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


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