Little Peek, a small home fifteen miles from Maine’s midcoast on the island of Vinalhaven, is both an escape and a refuge from urban life. Designed by Maria Berman and Brad Horn of the architecture and design office Berman Horn Studio, the house is used year round both as a vacation home and for work.
Perched atop a rocky outcropping overlooking one of the island’s many ocean coves, the project is named for its unique siting, which offers only glimpses of the house as one climbs a meandering footpath from the water. The house is a contemporary reinterpretation of the New England connected farmhouse. Organized as a long bar that faces the water to the west, the Camden Hills to the north and untouched berry bushes and fern meadows to the east, it includes a main house, a small guest house, and a custom designed fully screened porch that links the two.
This porch, which creates a shared exterior room and frames views to the ocean and landscape, extends the profile of the roofline to tie the two houses together. The screen porch system was especially designed by the architects for this setting to take advantage of the beauty of Maine’s evenings, perfect for long conversations with family and friends, late dinners and stargazing, but within a protective screened enclosure.
The screens are removed seasonally, leaving only the slender metal frame in the winter. The exterior of the house is clad in silvery cedar shingles that were locally crafted in a small, family-run mill in Maine. The grey wood recalls the many historic barns seen throughout the Maine coast and countryside and creates a connection between this contemporary home and the vernacular farm buildings native to this area.
Within the whitewashed interior, the decision was made to limit the visual presence of wood to give nature the chance to enter uncontested through the large industrial windows and bring focus onto the textures and colors of the stone, huckleberry, bay and lichen that surround the house.
Details are both modest and spare, recalling the cleanliness of the American Shaker aesthetic.
The interiors are filled with a casual but edited mix of American and French antiques and textiles juxtaposed with the clean lines and playful finishes of late 20th century contemporary design. The vibrant colors and painted surfaces create a warm counterpoint to the ever-changing vista of the outdoors.
Little Peek Gallery