Project Description

Lucia’s Little Houses > House #15

Hillside House

With strong western and southern views, this house will work well on a sloping site where the land falls to the water. All essential functions are on one floor with an accessible path and there are a lot of outdoor living spaces. A contemporary interpretation of New England cottages, it will feel at home on either coast or in between.

A house built by our customer:


Our clients had a beautiful hillside that looks westwardly into Penobscot Bay. Granite ledges stepped away down the hill to the west, and a grove of mature spruce trees made the site private and gave it a great sense of place. Unfortunately, the granite ledge was so erratic that we knew it would be tough to find a place where we could build and that difficulty led to trying to make as compact a house as we could.

Hipped roofs are a natural for this kind of square plan, and that worked well for this house because we wanted it to seem low and ground hugging as you approach it from the southeast and look down on it from higher on the hill. The building gets tucked into the ledge on the east, then the ground falls away to the west and the building becomes three stories tall with a walkout basement. It could handle being this tall on the water side because it is surrounded by a grove of 60-foot tall spruce trees which frame it and keep the house in scale.

We concentrated a great deal of glass on the south side in the kitchen and the dining room so the house would be sunny and warm, then concentrated another cluster of windows on the west where the view is best. On the east side that faces into the hill and the north side that faces into cold winter winds, we let the roof come down lower to the ground and minimized the glazing. You can feel the house embracing the south and the west and turning its back to the north.

Likewise, we wrapped the south and west with porches and decks because we knew that on this difficult site, our clients would need decks and porches in order to enjoy being outside. This is not a site where you can step out your door onto the lawn.

In order to keep the house sunny, we put a pergola of sloped beams instead of a porch roof over the southeast end of the porch. This allows the roofline to run through and minimizes the impact of a two story high wall. The pergola makes it comfortable to sit out on this deck, but the kitchen and dining room inside won’t be made dark by too much roof.

On the southwest a screened porch anchors this corner of the house focused on the best view. This is an outdoor room that will be the primary living space on many long summer afternoons in Maine, and we wanted it to have prominence. Since it’s right on the corner you can look out past it to the south and west from inside the house, and it doesn’t
seem in your way.

Upstairs we wrapped two bedrooms and a bath around a slightly expanded stair hall that doubles as an office. Placing a roof window in the east roof at just the right height allows you to look out and see who’s coming when you’re upstairs in this office. These upstairs bedrooms are small, but both connect to an upstairs balcony over the screened porch, giving them an added dimension.

Although we designed this house to meet the challenges of this rockbound Maine site, it would do fine anywhere with a strong southern and western focus and an easterly approach. A hillside sloping steeply to the west would be nice, but with some modifications to decks this house could be built quite nicely on a flat site.

Working drawings provide you with the architectural documentation you (or your builder) need to build this house. Working drawing sets vary for each of the houses. Click here to order.

House Details
Heated square feet. . . . . . . . 1,647
Adjusted sq. ft. . . . . . . . . . 2,070
3 – Bedrooms
2 1⁄2 – Bathrooms
Walk-out basement

Foot Print 1,940 sq. ft.
View Dimension 44’
Side Dimension 53’-6”
Height 24’-6”

1st Floor 1,162 sq. ft.
2nd Floor 485 sq. ft.

1st Floor
Living/Din. 20’ x 22’
Kitchen 16’ x 12’
Bedroom–1 15’ x 16’
Bath–1 14’ x 9’
Entry Porch 7’-6” x 7’-6”
Rear Porch 7’ x 14’
Scr. Porch 14’ x 14’
Side Deck 30’ x 8’
Rear Deck 10’ x 20’

2nd Floor
Bedroom–2 14’ x 10’
Bedroom–3 10’ x 20’
Bath–2 10’ x 6’
Roof Deck 6’ x 6’

Working Drawings
• Basement Plan
• 1st flr. Plan,
2nd flr. Plan, Schedules
• Elevations
• Sections
• Sections
• Details
• Interior Elev./Kitchen
• Foundation Plan
• 1st & 2nd flr. Framing
• Roof Framing
• Electrical Plan, Schedule