In truth, the two see themselves less as owners of the home and more as stewards–ever mindful that the choices they make about how the property is refinished will have an impact on those who succeed them here. It’s why decisions such as running under-the-floor radiant tubes (for more even, consistent, and efficient heat) or going with a metal roof (for little-to-no maintenance) weren’t made lightly. Not surprisingly, Stephen’s boat-building experience factored into the work as well. “In a boat, every space is utilized, aesthetically, functionally–it’s all tied together,” he explains.
A few choices were direct offshoots of his background. Where windowsills had to be replaced, for example, he sorted through scraps of mahogany, a popular planking material that can withstand the elements, to make a new piece. Gutters are made of fir, another favorite nautical wood. “You just have to treat them once a year with linseed oil,” he notes.
Other choices, such as the layout and the look of the home itself, demanded more thought. The biggest change concerned the kitchen, which was moved from one end of the house to the other, giving it a more central location. On the second floor, the couple added more dormers to open up the space, allowing for more natural light and making it a prime studio for Stephen, who paints on the side. In the bathroom, the two rebuilt the large window just above the clawfoot tub for a pleasant view of a side meadow.
“What helps a building last isn’t just the materials you use,” Stephen explains. “It’s how comfortable it is and how the spaces relate to one another as you move around the home.”
These days, the couple has settled into the house in such a way that they seem to have lived here for a lot longer than seven years. Sarah has her gardens; Stephen has a new barn where he can build and restore boats. And even though it’s brought them out of the woods, being so close to town, to the harbor, to the community has proven to be a good thing.
“It’s been wonderful to discover how much this house means to people here,” Stephen says. “Especially when we first started work on the house, people stopped in all the time and said, ‘Thank you for restoring it. Thank you for taking care of it.’”