Photography courtesy of Canadian Timberframes Ltd.
Jeff and Debbie Kolod know firsthand the truth behind the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” The couple’s waterfront house, situated on one of Maine’s most popular lakes, is a bustling hub for their crew of 21. The family, which includes a mix of adult children, their spouses and 13 grandchildren, are drawn to the property by the promise of time together.
“It’s like summer camp,” says Debbie of the house, affectionately dubbed Bear Cove. “You can swim on the sandy beach, kayak, fish off the dock; there’s always something cooking over the fire pit.” (In the winter, it’s ice fishing and snowmobiling that capture the crowd.)
The carefree vibe feels completely natural — “Kids can just be kids here,” declares Debbie — but the laid-back approach is a result of the couple’s intentional commitment to building a no-fuss, family-friendly house on the 2-acre property.
“There isn’t anything off-limits,” shares Jeff of the timber-frame home. “Nothing breakable, no sheet rock or anything too fancy.” The absence of drywall was on the couple’s “must” building list from the get-go — a fact they readily shared with the home’s timber provider, Canadian Timberframes Ltd. “From the start, we wanted a place that was all wood,” states Jeff.
The home’s use of natural materials and overall design and shape give off the sense it was made for the mountains, rather than a New England shoreline. “It’s not a mountain house; it’s a lake house, but you’d never guess it with the modern shape and rustic siding and timbers,” shares David Gagne, the Canadian Timberframes consultant who headed the project. Debbie adds to the couple’s decision to eschew a local vernacular: “We love the Western U.S. and wanted a rustic mountain design. We couldn’t move to Montana, so we brought it to us.”
The home’s frame is made of oversized, antiqued Douglas fir timbers that were charred and wire brushed. “They told us we could downsize the massive timbers,” Jeff explains. “It is overbuilt from a construction standpoint but having that ‘wow’ factor was worth it.”
David agrees that the couple’s choice to incorporate stand-out wood details makes the home that much better. “The character log right in the middle of the house is quite special,” he says of the eye-catching, 32-inch-diameter log around which the kitchen and dining are centered. David hand-picked the massive log with the couple over video chat in June of 2020. (Covid prevented them from traveling to the Canadian Timberframes facility.) “David was walking around showing us the trees,” says Jeff. “And he said this was the gnarliest, knobbiest, knottiest one.”
The couple’s decision to lean into organic textures was just one of the key factors that drove the home’s design, which Debbie refers to as “rustic but comfortable.” Other factors they kept in mind:
One: They wanted a design that would pull views inside and draw the home’s inhabitants out. While there are plenty of windows at every turn, a bi-fold door stretching across the rear of the home doubles down on the indoor-outdoor connection, fully opening the main floor to views of the lake and encouraging free-flowing access to a spacious 10-by-40-foot deck.
And two: They wanted the design to promote togetherness. The open layout checks that box. “No matter where you are in that main area — cooking in the kitchen, eating in the dining room, sitting in the living room — you can still have a connection with everyone else,” affirms Jeff.
While the house is often filled with lively chatter, there are plenty of quieter moments for the couple to soak up their surroundings. On the surface, it seems silent in comparison to the din of busy weekends, but listen long enough, and you’ll discover the near-constant hum of local wildlife, from the evocative chorus of loons on the lake to the methodical woodpeckers to, according to Jeff, even bears and deer ambling by. “It’s a completely stress-free, relaxing environment,” Jeff says. These days, everyone can use a healthy dose of that.
Square Footage: 4,968
Timber Frame Producer/Designer: Canadian Timberframes Ltd.