December 13, 2010

Open House: Nesting instinct

The Weirs of West Bath wanted a home that really fit them -- and got one with an open plan, tons of storage, a tree-filled lot and soaring windows that invite the outside in.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WEST BATH - Jane and Robert Weir's dream house was created only after a painstaking analysis of reality.

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The dining area of Jane and Robert Weir’s home in West Bath faces a solid wall of glass that brings in lots of light and encourages the feeling of coexisting with nature.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer

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An exterior shot of the Weir home, with its elevated walkway off a large screened-in porch.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

THIS WEEK'S HOME

LOCATION: On Mill Cove, West Bath

STYLE: Contemporary. Appears to be one-story home from the front, but its site on a slope allows for a full lower level. Designed by Falmouth architect Carol A. Wilson, the house won a Merit Award from the Maine Chapter of the American Institute of Architects this year.

OWNERS: Robert and Jane Weir, who met at the University of Maine and who lived in North Carolina for 30 years before deciding to come back to the state a few years ago. Robert is a tree genetics researcher and teacher, while Jane is a weaver and knitter who owned her own yarn store.

HISTORY: The couple looked at more than 60 pieces of land in the midcoast region before settling on this one, on a slope leading down to Mill Cove, off the New Meadows River. The couple has been in the house for about three years.

WHAT MAKES IT STAND OUT: A solid wall of glass on the southern side of the main living area -- more than 40 feet long and about 14 feet high -- helps to bring the sun and the surrounding landscape inside; giant windows throughout give sweeping views of the trees and the water; massive amounts of hidden storage, including a wide ledge with cabinets underneath that stretches the length of the living space.

SURPRISING FEATURES: A dock or pier-like structure stretches some 20 feet or more from the screened porch, over the hill, and to the edge of the trees; a front entry that allows visitors to look down into the lower level, through a wall of glass, and out to the water; bright red exterior color, selected because the couple liked how red looks against snow.

ABOUT THIS SERIES

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

TO SUGGEST a home to be considered for this series, contact Ray Routhier at 791-6454 or rrouthier@pressherald.com.

Falmouth architect Carol A. Wilson spent a lot of time talking to the couple about their living habits and desires. And a lot that the couple wanted came from the fact that the Weirs -- who lived in North Carolina for 30 years -- had lived in a house with fairly small rooms and little storage.

Now it was time for open spaces and a place to put things.

Their dream house also had to reflect their personal passions -- Robert Weir is a longtime forester and tree researcher, and Jane Weir is a craft collector, weaver and former yarn store owner. So the house had to have plentiful views of trees, and lots of space for storing collectibles and weaving supplies.

The result is a contemporary 2,500-square-foot, two-bedroom home built on a heavily wooded lot that slopes down toward Mill Cove and the New Meadows River beyond. The couple moved into the house about three years ago. Because the Weirs knew they didn't want too many small, closed spaces, this house has a main living space about 40 feet long, with the kitchen, dining area and living area open to one another.

On the southern side, partly for light and heat, there is a solid wall of glass, some 14 or 15 feet tall. The giant wall of windows also brings the trees and landscape inside, as do oversized windows throughout the house. A square wall-sized window in the master bedroom looks like a large painting of a stand of tree trunks, including several birches.

As if the views of the trees from the house weren't enough, there is a "pier" stretching more than 20 feet from the large screened porch over the slope of the property to the edge of the treeline. It looks like a dock, but it brings you to the forest, not the ocean. Robert likes to sit on this pier and enjoy the view, not to mention the sound of a gurgling stream below.

The theme of bringing the outdoors inside is carried throughout the house by windows in certain sections that look onto large sections of the home's bright-red clapboard exterior. And seeing so much red is a nice color accent, given that most of the interior is white to maximize light.

While the windows are huge on the south side of the living area, they are much smaller on the north side. And the roof is sloped on the living area, with interior beams to hold it up. But they also add a sort of cottage look.

Jane likes the fact that there is ample storage built into the home virtually everywhere, often with doors or cabinets that have hidden handles and blend into the mostly white walls. The couple's former home had a tiny laundry room, while this one's laundry room is bigger than some living rooms, with a great view of the trees and the cove.

Many of the rooms in the house have entries much larger than doorways, yet there are sliding hidden doors that can be used to close off the spaces. In Jane's lower-level weaving and work room, there is an entire sliding wall that can be shut to create two guest sleeping spaces.

"It's fun to have a house that isn't static," said Wilson. "Plus, this allows rooms to be closed up in winter, and allows for open spaces in the summer."

The Weirs say Wilson's design is the result of a lot of listening, and they're very happy with how it fits their personalities and lifestyle.

"We didn't need a four-bedroom house. We wanted a house that really fit us," said Jane.

"For years, I thought you didn't need an architect to get the house you wanted, it was just an added expense," said Robert.

He quickly added that he doesn't think that anymore.

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

rrouthier@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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A furry resident of the Weir home descends a stairway leading to the lower level. From one aspect, the home appears to have a single story, but it is built on a slope and has full upper and lower levels.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer

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The Weirs’ main living space is about 40 feet long, with the kitchen, dining and living areas open to one another.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer

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The master bedroom, with its view of the New Meadows River.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer

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A fireplace at one end of the main living expanse.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer

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A home office.

John Patriquin /Staff Photographer

 


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