Living a semi-rural life on Maine’s midcoast offers Matt and Jessie Francis peacefulness and a sense of community that is rare in today’s day and age. The couple’s home, which has been in the family for three generations, resembles a New England cottage thanks to some visual changes and a recent addition. Located close to the area’s beautiful lakes and mountains, and with a view of the ocean from the porch, this house couldn’t be better suited for its owners. “It’s perfect that this has become our home because we love it here and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Matt and Jessie explain.
When Jessie moved in permanently six years ago, the couple started thinking about ways to update and improve their home, making it more fit for modern-day living. Transforming the house began four years ago with a large-scale overhaul. The couple took out some of the ground floor ceiling to create a lofted living room and dining area, added a porch and built a new mudroom. They wanted the mudroom to be functional, high quality and aesthetically pleasing, and enlisted their good friend Ben Block of to turn their vision into reality. When it was time to tackle the kitchen, an outdated space in desperate need of a gutting, there was no question about it — Ben was the right man for the job.
Jessie wasn’t the only one who considered the layout of the original kitchen to be inconvenient — the sink and stove were in one room, the refrigerator in another. Thankfully, Matt has a great sense of space and ability to think outside the existing walls. “He came up with the initial idea of opening things up to create the loft,” Jessie says. “When it came time to do the same thing in the kitchen, Matt again suggested we remove a wall and open the space up.” Moving forward with Matt’s idea allowed for a seemingly large space in a relatively small house.
Building and designing a kitchen into the new open-plan space was a close collaboration between Matt, Jessie and Ben. Together, they worked through multiple revisions of 3D designs until every detail and proportion was just right. For Ben, the process of transforming a dark, cramped, and dated kitchen into a bright and practical space was extremely rewarding. “We played with options for window and shelf placement, discussed functions of each cabinet and drawer, and talked through multiple options of how to use each corner of the kitchen,” he shares. Adding a walk-in pantry and a wood stove for cold winter days was the icing on the cake. In terms of color, the couple opted for the same soft army green that they had used in the mudroom.
When the kitchen design was completed, Block Brothers Custom Cabinets handled the entire project through to the final punch list, working not only as the cabinetmaker but the general contractor as well. Each cabinet component in the kitchen started as tough lumber in the company’s small shop. From the maple dovetail drawers to the shaker-style cabinet doors and Douglas fir shelving, everything was built in-house.
Taking their time with the kitchen and overall renovation of their home is something Matt and Jessie have no regrets about. Transforming their house into the open, cozy and highly functional home it is today meant moving from room to room for four years while work was being performed in various parts of the house. Despite this challenge, the couple agrees that it was all worth it. “We’re so glad we’ve waited because it came out exactly how we wanted.” Thanks Matt, Jessie and Ben for sharing this amazing transformation with us! —
Before Pictures by Matt Francis
After Pictures by
Image above: Matt and Jessie’s kitchen is a combination of timeless silhouettes and modern details, complete with a kitchen island, durable black granite countertops, and a step-back hutch. The wood-burning stove is a much-loved addition. “Maine winters can be long, and having a wood fire makes everything feel cozier!” Jessie shares.
Cabinets: Walls: Trim: Countertop: “Jet Mist” Granite with a honed finish by Shelves: Douglas Fir, made, hand-oiled and waxed by Floors: White Oak
Fireplace alcove: Black Munson Slate and Brick
Stove: Stool: Nerd counter stool by Windows: Appliances:
Cabinets: Walls: Trim: Bench and Counter: Douglas Fir, made, hand-oiled and waxed by Floor: Black Munson Slate