Vacation Cottage Defies a Stormy Coast

Remodeling a fantasy holiday home near a flood zone does not seem like a recipe for comfort. However, for homeowners Bob and Kate Horgan, this rock structure off the coast of Maine was precisely what they were looking for. Set on the edge of miniature Hunting Island, off the southern tip of Southport, this former rock searching retreat can be found inside a 100-year flooding zone and only a couple feet over the high-water line.

Flooding in a storm surge is a real threat here, therefore the Horgans had to think of a very special design and construction to meet the code requirements for your redesign. The couple hired Knickerbocker Group to do this while keeping up the cottage’s charm and making room for occasional visits in their seven grown children.

at a Glance
Who lives here: A holiday home for Bob and Kate Horgan
Location: Hunting Island, Maine
Size: Main house: 1,570 square feet; 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. Bunkhouse: 270 square feet; 1 bedroom, 1 bath

The cottage’s outside walls are made from stone found on the staircase. Originally, this structure was a simple searching escape with no electricity. It had only a couple little rooms and rustic pipes, and was filled with ocean debris from demanding storms.

The construction was sensitive to the cottage’s surroundings, so waste had to be kept to a minimum, and several changes were made to the house’s exterior. The majority of the renovations were developed to maintain the house inside the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) flooding code. Vents had to have the ability to handle flood waters by equalizing water pressure all around the structure, wood had to be rotproof and all electrical services had to be set up a minimum of three feet off the ground.

At the time of construction, FEMA demanded that if a structure was enhanced by greater than 50 percent of its worth, it had to be transferred out of the flood plain. However, this residence is mostly made from rock, and moving it would have been an impossible feat.

Rather, architect Rick Nelson and his group at Knickerbocker got inventive. “We decided it would be best to be as meticulous as possible about costs, which helped focus our efforts on maintaining the rugged charm of the structure,” he says.

Basketball-size rocks and piles of sand have been known to wash into structures within this area. To battle this, Nelson and his group constructed mahogany and ballistic storm panels that will be securely attached to all the front doors and windows during storms and in the off-season.

Ship inset: Wooden Screen Door Co.; stained glass: Kim Villard

Obviously, the prospect of flood made choosing furniture difficult as well. Simple pieces with restricted upholstery proved to be the best bet. To remain within the budget, the cement floors were stained rather than covered with tile, timbers were left unfinished and the present stone walls were simply cleaned.

An iron pole round the living room roof was set up to secure the roof to the walls through rough weather. “A structural requirement became an chance for a modern decorative element,” says Nelson.

Paintings: Kim Villard; cushions: On Board Fabrics

FEMA demands made the design and practicality of these main downstairs living spaces especially complex, forcing Knickerbocker Group to acquire creative with materials and installation.

The kitchen, only visible through this doorway, had its own set of limitations. Installing permanent lower cabinetry was not a choice, since it might be completely destroyed in a flood. Rather, cabinets were custom made and put on casters so they could be readily eliminated. This also meant the cabinetry was believed furniture and may be taken out of their funding for FEMA accounting.

How to install the sink was a head scratcher, but ultimately Nelson permanently attached the sink counter into a wall with mounts and constructed the cupboard below to slide out and in on casters.

Knickerbocker Group

Rough-sawn cedar was used to sheath walls and stairways for a rustic appearance that met the rotproof requirements.

The driftwood railing on the staircase is original to the home. It was stored and reused to maintain the house’s original rustic appeal.

Natural rock shower tile keeps the major bathroom’s appearance in line with the rest of the home. A stencil on the stained concrete flooring adds a subtle decorative element.

Fixtures: Rohl; stenciled floor pattern: Jill Valliere Design

The clients wanted larger, more personal bedrooms — a major change from the home where they raised their seven children. These chambers were kept simple and mild, with antique furniture that reflects the house’s roots. White linen bedding appears clean and crisp against the rough stone walls.

Bed: Maine Cottage; shade: Creative Canvas

Few modifications were made to the surrounding property, since harsh weather could potentially destroy any landscaping. Nelson and his group did make some improvements into the rock formations around the house, though, producing rock terracing, stairs and a bonfire pit with boulder chairs.

For additional guest housing, Knickerbocker built a little bunkhouse on the only sliver of their house that may host a new construction. Storm panels sit out, prepared to undertake the demanding weather.

The board and batten walls within this bunkhouse bedroom make it feel more comfy than the stone-clad bedrooms in the primary house. Kate Horgan is an interior designer and frequently collects shore temples to decorate the house. Here, a beautiful branch found on the beach hangs from your bunkhouse ceiling.

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