A Hideaway for All Ages Perched Among the Trees at Maine

“I went through this place in a boat once, and I couldn’t even find it,” says architect David Matero, that sited this playhouse so nicely one of the spruce trees that it’s practically invisible by a hundred yards away. The architect made the contemporary Adirondack-style structure to be a place where his clients can play games, read, have fun sleepovers and even find a little privacy when the main home is crowded. A brand new rope bridge joins the tiny home — they call it a treehouse because of its placement among the trees — to some zip-line platform. From the stage the main home is a zip ride away.

David Matero Architecture

Interior photographs by Darren Setlow Photography; exterior photographs by David Matero

At a Glance
Who plays here:
A family from California and their buddies
Location: Harpswell, Maine
Size: 350 square feet (32.5 square meters)

The home is not literally a treehouse but is perched one of the trees so nicely that it has earned the name. “There really aren’t trees in Maine that would support a construction in this way,” Matero states. While this side matches the ground, the home sits close to the edge of a cliff. The long fall from the back of the home and how it’s nestled among the spruces give it a treehouse feel.

David Matero Architecture

“The site is really lively,” Matero states. The back of the home faces the water and can be high above the ground. A cliff outside it makes the height seem even more spectacular in the 2 balconies. One is off the main living space, and the other is off the sleeping loft.

This rope bridge joins the treehouse to the zip-line stage, which is just out of view to the right. Originally the family needed to create the treehouse atop the existing stage, but after working on a few proposals using engineers, Matero found it was not possible. Instead, relatives run across the rope bridge to the stage and zip down to the main property.

Here the home is concealed.

Every one of those western redcedar shingles was hand dipped in Australian timber oil. This gives them an appearance that aids the house blend into the woods. “I wished to give it a contemporary Adirondack-camp look,” Matero states. Pictured here is Mark Parker, caretaker of the property.

David Matero Architecture

Inside, a round window that came from another home that once stood on the property has been repurposed. The inside of the room is rough-sawn natural Douglas fir. Even though the treehouse is electrified, it doesn’t have pipes, insulation, heating or ac. It is strictly a summer hideout.

The built in window seats along the right side may double as double beds. The mahogany table folds down from the wall.

David Matero Architecture

The table is a superb place for eating snacks, playing games and doing puzzles, even while the window seats provide comfy spots to curl up with books, visit or watch out for ospreys and eagles. “The homeowners intended to utilize the treehouse themselves also. It is not just all for drama,” Matero states.

David Matero Architecture

When planning the space, the homeowners needed a sleeping loft of their own. They could use it like a fun little getaway or let guests use it.

“The homeowner was quite conscientious about mild,” Matero states. Skylights and windows open up the loft to as much light as possible.

Light fixture: Artecnica Midsummer Light by Studio Tord Boontje; bedding: Chinoiserie Pearl, DwellStudio

David Matero Architecture

The sleeping loft has its own balcony.

Here’s the view out to the water. It’s easy to understand why the home has been deemed a “treehouse” in this picture.

All windows except the window: Anderson

Architecture: David Matero Architecture
Builder: Brent Akins, Housewrights & Craftsmen

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11 Amazing Home-Away-From-Home Treehouses

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Kitchen of the Week: Historic Queen Anne Renovation

Homeowner and architect Geoffrey Gainer of True Size Architecture Resides in a Queen Anne in San Francisco’s Mission district. While renovating the kitchen, he did not like the notion of attempting to hide new appliances behind wood paneling, but he didn’t want to look a modern space that would jar with the rest of the home. See the way he solved this layout dilemma by using materials that would show gentle wear with time.

Actual-Size Architecture

Gainer took out a wall between the kitchen and dining rooms to unite the spaces. The salvaged Douglas fir shelves come in the original 120-year-old wall, making the kitchen and historical home more cohesive. All these shelves, the cork floors and also the paper-based countertops will all ding, dent and darken over time to meld with the home’s old charm.

Gainer discovered the classic chandelier and made two kitchen pendants to match. Located parts from Ohmega Salvage along with the hardware store help tie the dining and kitchen area collectively. The massive steel post in front of the island serves as a structural support beam in the ceiling and functions as a conduit for the shelf lights’ wiring.

Metalwork: Wendell Jones; sheet metal (except hood): stainless steel, Pacific Coast Stainless

Actual-Size Architecture

The open cabinets are a great way to solve the shortage of lighting in the kitchen. Since this type of historical residence, Gainer could not expand the windows or transfer them. The floating glass cabinetry allows the light to filter through the full kitchen. Gainer bought knobs at Ikea and painted and sanded them to get a luxury appearance.

“Two sinks result in a fantastic marriage. It is seriously worth the additional couple million bucks,” says Gainer. He and his wife understood that it’d be hard for both to find room in the stove too, so they found a set of two electric burners in a garage sale and put in them below the window facing the porch.

Cabinetry and shelving: habit by David Brunjes; cabinetry completing: Ciarlo Brothers

Actual-Size Architecture

The lower cabinetry has been kept open to make obtaining everyday items easy. The kitchen island is open to the dining space, but Gainer did not want his guests to observe a kitchen mess while eating, so he wired the kitchen lighting and dining lights separately. At night, when the kitchen lights are off, the distance feels completely different.

Countertop: Richlite; fridge: GE Profile; range: Viking; hood: Stack, Rangecraft

Actual-Size Architecture

The space-saving island layout is Gainer’s favorite thing about the kitchen. The top drawer is a knife rack and the third drawer has a pot-lid rack using adjustable steel rods, which he designed. The distance between the sink and the cabinet walls was just big enough for Gainer to devote a drawer for tall bottles of olive oil and other cooking essentials. The front of this sink is truly a tilt-out tray to keep items easy, and there’s a habit swing-out trash can for easy cleanup.

Actual-Size Architecture

Gainer and his wife have two young brothers, so child friendliness was important. “Keeping them at the counter is much easier than attempting to monitor the mess in the table, and they like it better there too,” he says.

Oven: Miele; wall spout: Elkay; faucets: Chicago

More: How to Remodel Your Kitchen | More Kitchens of the Week

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