CAPE ELIZABETH – Lynn Shaffer used to live in a grand old John Calvin Stevens home in Cumberland.

The famed Maine architect of the late 1800s and early 1900s had filled that house with design elements that surprised and delighted Shaffer at every turn.

A few years ago, Shaffer decided to design a home for herself and her family, and wanted to see if she could incorporate as many visual delights as the Stevens house had.

“In our other house, no matter where you stood, there were beautiful things to look at,” said Shaffer, an architect for almost 30 years. “I didn’t want to lose that when I designed this house.”

She didn’t.

From the first foot a visitor sets inside Shaffer’s home — a 4,000-square-foot oceanfront contemporary built in 2004 — there are design elements that both astonish and create calm.

Shaffer calls her home “The Wave House,” and curves — meant to mimic the waves of the ocean and the land as it rolls to the sea — are everywhere. There are curved window panes, curves in the shingles, curves in ceiling beams and a stained-glass image of a curved sky over a curved landscape.

The biggest curve, which is visible from the entry hall, is a massive Douglas fir ceiling above the main hall and the second-floor landing. The curve of the ceiling is so dramatic that it reminds one of an airplane hangar. But it’s also incredibly warm to look at, with tones of red and yellow shining from the wood.

The house has wooden ceilings in several rooms, including most of the first-floor living space. The living-area ceiling is curved as well, but not as dramatically as on the second floor.

The living area basically includes the front hall, the dining room, the living room and TV room, which all open to each other. But if one studies the wood columns and ceiling beams, it’s clear the spaces are defined.

For instance, there’s a ceiling beam between the main living area and a smaller area that hosts a piano, creating a small music room along a wall of windows that look out to the ocean.

Two curved wooden ceiling beams help frame the dining room, and long ceiling beams even frame the hall as it passes into the kitchen and beyond.

The kitchen cabinets have a much lighter wood — birch — and the slab construction of the cabinets gives them a mid-20th-century feel. To keep her curve theme going, Shaffer had a couple of curved lines carved into the cabinet doors and colored them blue, red and yellow.

The kitchen has pendant lights over the island with a curved design that run on a counterweight. If you want to adjust the height of the lights so they’re not right in your line of sight or hitting your head, you can pull on them gently and guide them up or down.

The extensive use of wood gives the home a classic look that appears to blend various architectural periods.

A Mission-style oak dining table looks right at home with all the warm wood around it. But there is also a wall of shelves that divides the TV area from the front hall, which looks like something you might see in a mid-20th-century home.

The main living area has a wall of windows looking to the ocean, but instead of just a solid wall of glass, there are giant door-sized panes framed by honey-colored wood. This gives the overall look a warmer feeling than plain glass, and also a feeling of sturdiness.

“I like to think of (the house) as a nod to traditional Maine architecture and materials,” said Shaffer.

The house was built on a one-acre lot that had been the oceanfront portion of a larger property, so there are beautiful views from most rooms. One guest bedroom on the higher end of the property (it slopes) has tall trees nearby, giving that room a “treehouse effect,” Shaffer said.

Off the living area is a huge enclosed porch with a fieldstone fireplace that Shaffer and her husband, Jim, use a lot, especially for dining in warmer months. Shaffer says this is probably her husband’s favorite room.

What’s Shaffer’s favorite room?

As an architect who designs for others, she’s open to lots of different ideas and looks. But as a homeowner, like any homeowner, she has her favorite features.

“I think it’s the living room, sitting in front of the bluestone fireplace,” said Shaffer. “I just really like the look of bluestone.”

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

[email protected]


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