Six homeowners find big-time pleasure in their tiny homes in Maine.
By Cynthia Anderson
Photographed by Irvin Serrano
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue.
Natural light and waterfront views abound in this intimate retreat.
Efficiency was perhaps the main consideration in the building of this small house, which was designed by R. McAllister Lloyd, founder of Creative Cottages, and built by Lloyd and his crew in a Brunswick warehouse. The exterior shell, complete with windows and siding, was flat-bedded to Freeport and hoisted into place by a crane. On site, the house went up within days.
Lloyd wanted to build a place that was scaled down but didn’t feel cramped. Accordingly, the 19-by-22–foot cottage has a full kitchen and comfortable bath, along with a laundry, gas fireplace, and large overhead loft for storage. Light streams in through dormers and a wall of glass, which means interior lights aren’t needed until “well after the sun has set,” Lloyd says.
A Soothing Palette, Outdoorsy Touches
The furnishings and artwork provide splashes of color against the warm beiges and grays of the cultured-stone fireplace, pickle-washed finishes, and wood-grain ceramic floor tiles. In the bathroom, a beach-stone shower floor flows into the rest of the room, and transom windows allow for natural light. “Our philosophy was to try to bring the outside in,” says Lucy Lloyd, who runs Creative Cottages with her husband.
Designer/Builder: R. McAllister Lloyd
Cost to build: undisclosed
Square feet: 418, plus unfinished storage loft
Bedrooms: 1 (studio)
Heat: radiant electric plus gas fireplace
Teensy Yet Timeless
A Morrill builder marries traditional design with a tiny-house ethos.
Builder Jim Bahoosh designed and built the house for his partner, Martha Garfield, in 2008. “The design hinged on what she wanted,” he says, which included warmth, abundant light, and human-scale construction. Fortunately for both of them, her ideals matched his: “My goal in everything I build is, easy to heat, easy to maintain, and easy to live in.”
Little House, Big Feel
While consciously building small, Bahoosh wanted the place to feel as roomy as possible. Sightlines afford a sense of spaciousness, and the rooms are generously proportioned. In the kitchen, Garfield cooks at an oversized vintage range, and the bathroom holds a beloved clawfoot tub. Entryway, dining nook, and sunroom round out the downstairs. The upstairs holds two bedrooms, one of which doubles as an office. Cabinets, closets, and shelves fit cannily into corners and eaves.
Warm and Efficient
On chilly nights, a woodstove and radiant floor heat keep things warm. Abundant insulation reduces energy consumption; utilities cost around $1,000 a year. Human efficiencies matter too: “The house is really easy to clean, and easy to maintain inside and outside over the long haul,” says Bahoosh.
Designer/Builder: Jim Bahoosh
Cost to build: $100,000 (including labor, materials)
Square feet: 600
Heat: woodstove plus radiant in floors
An ocean-side cottage offers efficiency and low-key luxury.
Simple Life by the Sea
Perched on scrub brush and ledge, this three-season coastal retreat is remote. Conscious design was essential in ensuring that the place be as self-sufficient as possible. Solar energy powers lights and appliances, while a Morsø woodstove (on a local beach-stone hearth) provides warmth. Visitors shower al fresco with on-demand hot water in a cedar enclosure. A roof washer collects and disposes of the first 5 gallons of rainwater before it’s stored in a cistern.
A screened porch not only allows for outdoor all-weather dining but also frees up floor space, so the living area feels open and unconfined. The porch is angled to capture a southern exposure for on-roof solar panels. Inside space-savers include a built-in eating nook and a loft that sleeps four. Another smart move: the exterior is clad in corrugated aluminum, with rolling shutters that provide security when the owners aren’t there.
The cottage was designed by Alex Scott Porter for her father. Since Porter works out of New York, good communication with local contractor Josh Howell was essential — as was attention to detail, inside and out. “We wanted it to feel integrated throughout,” Porter says. “It’s important to feel all the corners, to impart a sense of openness and connection to the outside.”
Architect: Alex Scott Porter
Cost to build: undisclosed
Square feet: 550
Bedrooms: 1 (loft)
Baths: ½ plus ½ (Sun-Mar composting toilet and outdoor shower)
A Sylvan Perch
Low-impact design provides four-season enjoyment.
Intimate But Airy
“How much space does one need?” asks Bonnie Mattozzi, who designed and built her 400-square-foot house in Waterford with her husband in 2005. “We were seeing places with huge footprints that didn’t make sense to us. We wanted something that was relaxing and comfortable, small but not oppressive.” Another important consideration was building a place that felt integrated with the outdoors — something Mattozzi says is especially important with smaller dwellings.
Personable and Bright
The home’s interior is cheery and warm, with yellow-pine floors and abundant natural light. Saturated primary colors add depth to accent walls. “We wanted it to be fun,” says Mattozzi, whose family used the home as a retreat before selling it to a New Hampshire couple. “It’s like a perch. You’re part of nature without intruding on it.” A design plus: the dwelling is divided into a main living space with two small bedrooms, but since the inside walls aren’t load-bearing, it could be open-concept.
Passive-solar design means the Rinnai gas heater runs infrequently, even on the coldest days. “It’s warm within minutes,” Mattozzi says. Other efficiencies include an Equator washer/dryer and apartment-size appliances in the kitchen/living area. To minimize upkeep, the exterior is clad in cedar and steel.
Mattozzi’s favorite things:
• Trex composite deck
• Energy efficiency
• The views
• Inside airiness
• Privacy afforded by designated living spaces
Designers/Builders: Bonnie and Domenico Mattozzi
Cost to build: $80,000 (including labor and materials)
Square feet: 400
Foundation: on piers
Heat: propane and passive solar
Little House in the Woods
Nearing retirement, a woman finds economy and beauty in her 230-square-foot home.
An Eye on the Future
When she was in her late 50s, attorney Valerie Chiasson started thinking about how she wanted to live in retirement. Her large Bangor home was expensive to maintain, and she owned a vacant 9-acre lot in Brooklin. “It occurred to me that I was spending all my time sitting on one corner of the couch, in the kitchen, or asleep in bed,” said Chiasson. A solution appeared in the form of a tiny house designed and built by Jay Livesey. Chiasson rented out her Bangor property and has lived in her new place in Brooklin since 2014.
Low Cost, High Quality
Livesey wanted to build something small and economical without compromising quality. “I don’t like plastic,” he says. “I wanted cedar shingles and clapboards, nice trim, good materials inside, and a sunny interior.” Chiasson loves the results. “What’s amazing is that it’s a beautiful little building, and it’s one of the least expensive tiny homes I’ve ever seen,” she says.
Things Chiasson loves about the place:
• the minimalist pine interior: “golden and warm.”
• a living area with four windows that look out on the woods
• utility costs: an average of $35 each month
• her home’s tiny porch: “adds to the aesthetic, and I love to sit out there.”
Designer/Builder: Jay Livesey
Cost to build: $25,000 (including labor, materials)
Square feet: 230
Bedrooms: 2 lofts
A hand-built cabin provides autonomy and solitude.
A Place of His Own, with Family Nearby
Jesse Cottingham began building this timber-frame cabin on his family’s secluded 5 acres in Otisfield when he was 17. At the time, he was a home-schooler looking for some space from his mom and dad. Now 26, he lives here when he’s not traveling for his photography business.
Constructed from Recycled Materials
Found and recycled objects drove Cottingham’s design. More than half the materials came from the transfer station and construction dump piles. If Cottingham found a window of a certain size, a wall took form around it. Donated timbers determined the overall dimensions.
Skills Gained and Money Saved
Cottingham did most of the work himself, using hand tools and no electricity, with occasional help from friends and family members. Solar energy powers lights and electronics, including a refrigerator, computer, and stereo. “I’m still learning,” Cottingham says. “My motivation was to show other young people that they can have their own place without spending a lot of money and learn a lot of skills along the way.”
Designer/Builder: Jesse Cottingham
Cost to build: < $10,000
Square feet: 120, plus 60-square-foot mudroom
Bedrooms: 1 (loft)
Baths: 1 (composting outhouse)
Foundation: granite rocks from property