This week, we’re taking a closer look at House in Town by Elliott Architects, the winner of our 2022 Design Awards Competition, Modern Cottage Additions and Renovations category. To enter the competition, houses had to be specifically altered, adapted, and renovated for the families living within them. These designs transform a mundane house and turn it into something special.

Winning Cottage: House in Town 
Elliott Architects submitted the following project summary:

Originally built in Castine, ME in 1849, the home comprises the main house, an unfinished barn, and an ell connecting the other two pieces. At various points a series of makeshift renovations added a kitchen, sunroom, stair, laundry, and bathroom to the ell. The three-story barn, originally used for livestock, was closed off, unfinished and unused.

After occupying the home for several years, the new owners sought to take advantage of the empty barn by relocating the kitchen to it. Furthermore, they desired a stronger connection to a terrace on the backside of the house. But there were some constraints. The house is located in a historic district that placed restrictions on the roadside elevation.

The solution seeks to capture the essence of the house while at the same time distinguishing the new work from the 19th-century architecture. The barn and ell were gutted, removing all additions. A gallery space is located on the second floor of the barn and a large opening in the floor creates a vertical connection between it and the kitchen below, drawing light through from a low profile skylight above.

Streetside openings in the barn are filled with steel-framed glass panels and a stair inserted behind these openings provides vertical access between the three floors. At night the glow from these apertures animates the otherwise stoic façade.

On the back side of the house two large bump-outs reinterpret the traditional bay window allowing the interiors to engage the terrace and gardens outside. Inside, the interiors are clean and modern, distilling the historic details and materials of the old into elemental form. The result is a 21st-century renovation that quietly integrates with the old without sacrificing its integrity.

“This renovation truly created a modern flow and sensibility in an existing 1800s structure. I like that the exterior was barely changed except for modern glass shapes inserted into the colonial facade, like the barn door and bay windows. They give light to the interior by day and a glow to the exterior by night. The new skylights also puncture the exterior allowing light to fill the dramatic double height space. The kitchen, which once felt dark and cramped with low ceilings, is now a bright open gathering space.” ~ Stacy Millman, SKM Design LLC, a judge

Resource List
Steel Doors and Windows: Hope’s
Clad Doors and Windows: Marvin
Door Hardware: Henderson, Hafele, Ives, Bommer
Appliances: Miele, Fisher Paykel, Asko
Zinc Flashing: VM Zinc
Insulation: Corbond
Paint: Benjamin Moore
Wood Stove: Wittus
Skylights: Wasco
Plumbing Fixtures: Duravit, KWC, Franke
Lighting Fixtures: USA Illumination, Eureka, Flos, Zaneen, LSI, Fontana Arte
Plumbing Accessories: Vola


Structural Engineer: Becker Structural Engineers
Lighting Designer: Peter Knuppel Lighting Design
General Contractor: Jon Woodward & Sons

Photography: Trent Bell