3 dining room
4 open hallway
5 living room
9 powder room
TO PUT IT IN FASHION TERMS, THE CEN- turies-old Federalist houses that Freeman Zausner wanted to emulate are akin to fine-wool business uits: dignified, straightforward, and a bit stuffy. The property where he wanted to build his new vaca- tion home, 30 primitively beautiful acres along the
Medomak River in Waldoboro, Maine, was more suitable for a rustic cutoffs-and-T-shirt cabin. The delightful house Nancy Barba and
Cynthia Wheelock of Barba + Wheelock, Architecture Preservation
Design, in Portland, Maine, designed for him is neither.
Despite its 3,860-square-foot size, it’s a demure addition to
the landscape — a crisp, perfectly tailored linen sundress, fitted
and detailed, yet light as air, sophisticated enough for dinner at
the country club and casual enough for a barefoot romp on the
beach. If ever there was a house that successfully gave tradition a
fresh sensibility, this is it.
“Freeman wanted to be respectful of the Federal houses all
around this area,” says Wheelock, “but Federal houses have 7-foot
ceilings and boxed-in floor plans.”
The rooms in this house, on the other hand, flow as smoothly
as the outgoing tide. The ceilings are 10 feet 6 inches high, all the
better to accommodate the 8-foot-tall doors
and windows. And everywhere, there is natu-
ral light bringing a liberating sense of airiness
to the interior spaces.
“I like light,” says the understated
Zausner, a specialty retail executive who lives
in Delaware but fell in love with Maine as an 8-year-old sent
Down East for summer camp.
Barba and Wheelock got the message. They oriented the
building for the sun rather than the water view. “If it were parallel to the river,” says Zausner, “it would have made it darker.”
Instead, the architects sited the house for a southeasterly exposure.
At Zausner’s request, it is set on a crest, well back from the river,
barely visible to kayakers paddling past.
Just getting to the house is a journey of quiet expectation. A
narrow dirt road that took 18 months to build meanders a mile
and a half through otherwise untouched woods. The house reveals