Pleasant Lake Camp: Waterfront Retreat for a Modern Family

Photo courtesy of Jeff Roberts Imaging

Sited on a former 1930s girls’ camp called Camp Truda and set along the shores of Maine’s Pleasant Lake, a family property offers the opportunity for three generations to come together in one enchanting destination. On this heavily wooded stretch of land, a Boston-based couple with young children wanted to create a four-season lakefront retreat that would ultimately share a common driveway and a large swath of waterfront with the husband’s parents’ existing cottage built 30 years earlier. The challenge? To design a contemporary lake home that would relate to the traditional style of the surrounding architecture yet also accommodate the needs of a modern family.

“It was a social as well as an architectural challenge,” says Rob Whitten, founding principal of Whitten Architects, who took on the project. “Both homes needed to relate to one another while honoring their own identities and affording both families their privacy,” he notes.

Deep Forest Allure

Photo courtesy of Jeff Roberts Imaging

A pair of stone piers and an alley of 70-year-old white pines leading to the waterfront welcome visitors to the property. “Because of the dense tree cover and our clients’ desire for daylight and lake views, we worked with a local arborist to site the camp around healthy trees while removing diseased evergreens,” says Whitten. “Our site-specific design planned for an open space between the camps on the inland side for family games and interaction,” he adds.

“We strived to maintain some of the big trees close to the house to honor the woods,” says Drew Bortles, a project manager at Whitten Architects who worked with Rob on the overall design. “It brings a level of age to the home, and we wanted this house to feel as if it had always been there,” he adds.

Camp-style Charisma

Photo courtesy of Jeff Roberts Imaging

Nostalgic about the lake life, the homeowners—both with Maine roots—love the relaxed feel here and the area’s endless opportunities to connect with nature. Actively involved in the design process, they drew inspiration from turn-of-the-century waterfront camps. They wanted their home to take on a traditional look—an exposed post-and-beam structure with warm wood finishes—compatible with the neighboring parents’ camp yet with a more modern, light-filled open floor plan. 

The home features an exposed timber frame with white cedar shingles on the upper portion and red cedar boards running horizontally around the first level. The rustic appeal of a fieldstone chimney is echoed in the terrace walls that surround a bluestone patio out back. Hand-split granite was salvaged from the site and repurposed as part of an entry bench, a fireplace hearth, and a screened porch bench.

“This house is very focused on the waterfront and all the solar exposures,” explains Rob. “The son and his dad share a common driveway, and their screened porches face each other but still offer each home privacy. They all share the lakefront space, which includes a dock and a kayak rack. Creating a direct connection from indoor living spaces to outdoor living spaces was a key part of our design,” he explains.

The wrapped and screened porches with exposed Douglas fir rafters extend the interior spaces outdoors and provide an idyllic spot for entertaining and a play space for the kids—rain or shine. The lakeside terrace offers a sunny oasis to unwind on long afternoons, and a fire pit invites marshmallow roasts on cool evenings. A long dock allows the family easy swim access to the area’s main attraction—the lake.

Sunny and Spacious

Photo courtesy of Jeff Roberts Imaging

The sun-drenched kitchen connects visually to the lake outside and features bi-parting sliders on the right side of the bank of windows that open to the front porch. To complement their home’s camp-style architectural design, the couple hired interior designer Krista Stokes to help them create a relaxed, down-to-earth aesthetic. Using a soft, understated color palette throughout, she gave the kitchen cabinetry an unexpected wash of Farrow & Ball Green Smoke paint—a shade they surprisingly discovered to be similar to the next-door parents’ kitchen. 

“The open shelving has a very campy feel,” Bortles comments, “and contemporary lighting fixtures take on a vintage look. The Macaubas quartzite countertop—a type of Brazilian granite—provides a nice textural contrast to the butcher block island topped in solid white oak plank,” he adds.  

Additional first-floor living spaces include a full pantry, mudroom, half bath, full laundry, and a getaway space with an office and TV.

Cozy and Casual

Photo courtesy of Jeff Roberts Imaging

To invite spaciousness and light, Whitten designed open-plan living and dining spaces that emulate the look of traditional camp cottages as well as the neighboring parents’ house. Horizontal nickel-gap white pine boards outfit the walls and ceilings in a natural matte finish, and knotty white oak floorboards lend a gracefully aged patina. Oiled Douglas fir ceiling beams display a subtle red hue overhead, creating a tangible and satisfying warmth within. 

A slipcovered sofa and a built-in window seat are among the family’s favorite hangout spots for reading or snuggling in front of the fire. A Moroccan rug anchors the seating area and complements the solid fabrics with a bold graphic pattern. 

“This area is a haven of outdoor recreation with many lakes, spectacular fishing, a nearby ski resort, and ATV and hiking trails,” says Whitten. “The family visits every week—even in the winter—so we made sure to implement energy-efficient features including high-performance windows, spray foam insulation, and radiant heated floors. There’s also a home office where the couple can work remotely,” he sums.

Effortless Elegance

Photo courtesy of Jeff Roberts Imaging

Backdropped by an open staircase, the adjacent dining area is kept airy and light with minimal clean-lined furnishings, including a reclaimed pine farmhouse-style table from Restoration Hardware, hand-crafted Shaker-style chairs from O&G Studio, and a black iron chandelier from Ballard Designs. Unobtrusive yet ample cabinetry hugs the back wall and creates even more room to breathe.

Scenic Stairway

Photo courtesy of Jeff Roberts Imaging

A nickel-gap pine-board accent wall creates a glorious window to the woods atop the staircase leading to the second-story master suite, two guest bedrooms, a bunk room that sleeps five, and a generous Jack-and-Jill bathroom. Hudson Bay wool blankets draped over the stair rail give colorful texture to a cozy nook at the top of the stairs.

Find Your Niche

Photo courtesy of Jeff Roberts Imaging

Perhaps some of the home’s most inviting features are the cozy built-in nooks made for reading, sleeping, and daydreaming. Upstairs, cocoon-like bunk beds give the kids a secret alcove all their own, and the living room’s reading nook offers the best seat in the house for watching a summer rainstorm or the first winter snowfall. 

“We enjoyed designing all the built-ins, and I especially enjoyed having a hand in the bunk beds and all the finishes in that room,” says Bortles. “Throughout the property, we worked with the homeowners to create spaces that encourage little pauses—special moments—where you can just take it all in. The bunk room conjures memories of staying up late into the night and chatting, and the breathtaking views from the window seat and the terrace outside inspire you to ponder the beautiful natural environment and the refreshing lake beyond.”

Paradise in the North: A Look at Rangeley Lake, ME

Rangeley Lake during autumn wide angle shot

Nestled within the Western Maine Mountains and surrounded by a ring of evergreen trees, Rangeley Lake epitomizes the natural beauty of northern New England.

Rangeley Lake, a sprawling 6,400-acre freshwater lake, is one of the major headwaters of the Androscoggin River watershed. It takes its name from Squire James Rangeley, Jr., an Englishman who established one of the earliest settlements in the area in 1825. Squire Rangeley’s legacy looms large in the history of the region; the nearby town of Rangeley is named after him, as is the main river that flows out of Rangeley Lake.

Aerial shot of Rangeley Lake

With a population of just over 1,000 people, Rangeley may come across as a sleepy town. However, when warm weather comes around, vacationers and residents come in from all over the Northeast to wile away the days in their summer homes. In the past, some travelers have come to Rangeley in the winter for access to nearby ski resorts such as Saddleback Maine. 

With a strong local community and plenty of reasons to visit, Rangeley Lake is sure to remain one of Maine’s premier lake-living locations for years to come.

The History of Rangeley Lake

Before white settlers established the town of Rangeley, Rangeley Lake was home to five different Native American tribes, most prominently the Abenaki. In 1796, the region was forever changed when four American men—including James Rangeley, Sr., the father of Squire Rangeley—purchased a large tract of land that included Rangeley Lake and the surrounding area. Over the next few decades, settlers gradually trickled into Maine from the lower colonies, forging homesteads out of the forested land near the lake and surviving off of Rangeley’s bountiful fish and wild game.

Height of Land monument history of Rangeley Lake
Photo courtesy of Maine Tourism.

In 1825, Squire Rangeley loaded a wagon with his family’s belongings and established the town that would later take his surname. Supported by a burgeoning lumber industry, the population of Rangeley continued to grow over the following decades—and as the town gained prominence, it began to develop a reputation as a prime fishing destination. By the 1860s, Rangeley Lake had become a common vacation spot for American fishermen, kickstarting its reputation as a paradise of the North.

Rangeley Lakes closeup view

Many locals consider the late 1920s and 1930s to be the “Golden Age” of Rangeley. In the years leading up to the second World War, affluent visitors from across the Northeast would flock to the lake to take advantage of its high-quality hotels and natural beauty. 

After World War II, Rangeley transformed once again, eschewing its ritzy hotels in favor of a more relaxed style of tourism centered on the town’s established reputation as a vacation spot. The fancy hotels are long gone; instead, loyal seasonal residents come year after year to summer in their lakeside vacation homes. Generations of Rangeley Lake families have passed their homes down through years; for many, Rangeley is just as much of a home as their primary residences down south.

Features of Rangeley Lake

The natural splendor of Rangeley Lake is its greatest strength, but for residents who have had their fill of verdant beauty, the lake offers a number of additional amenities.

Rangeley Lake House postcard
Antique postcard of Rangeley Lake House, postmarked July 7, 1908.

The legacy of Rangeley’s Golden Age lives on in the form of the Rangeley Lake Resort. The resort is a cluster of log cabins located on the former golf course of the Rangeley Lake House, once Rangeley’s classiest hotel. The resort features a clubhouse with hot tubs and a heated pool, canoe rentals, a network of snowmobile trails, and ample opportunities for scenic hiking.

Mingo Springs golf course Rangeley Lake during fall autumn
Photo courtesy of The Maine Golf Trail.

On the shore of Rangeley Lake, visitors might stumble upon Mingo Springs Golf Course, a high-quality course that has been owned and managed by the same local family for over four decades. Though the local Saddleback Maine ski area has been closed since the 2014–2015 season, plans are underway to reopen the mountain for 2020, and the renowned skiing and golfing at Sugarloaf Mountain is only a 45-minute drive away.

For nature lovers, a number of companies offer cruises and kayaking on the lake, and the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust has mapped and documented miles of birding trails throughout the area. 

And on rainy days, visitors can drive down to the Rangeley Lakeside Theater for a selection of seasonal live performances and film screenings.

Rangeley Lake Real Estate

Rangeley Lake real estate is one of the premier markets for lake homes in the state of Maine. At any given time, there are around 130 lots and homes for sale on the lake. Rangeley Lake homes can sell for between $89,000 and $1.5 million, with a total market value of over $36 million. 

A small town with a cosmopolitan history, Rangeley is a fantastic location for both full-time and seasonal lake living. 

Visit our website HERE to learn more about Rangeley Lake.

Company Growth: Lake Homes Realty Now Working from Top to Bottom of U.S.

Lake Homes Realty is now operating in Maine, Florida and Michigan, bringing the company’s market footprint into 18 states!

“Entering these states has been a milestone of Lake Homes Realty,” said company CEO Glenn S. Phillips. “This is really an exciting time for our brokerage.”

This expansion is driven by the Inc. 5000 company’s aspirations for opening operations in 10 new states within the year, a goal that was announced at Lake Homes Realty’s 2017 annual Agent Summit.

Lake Homes Realty company growth brings brokerage into 18 states.

It would appear the company is well on its way to reaching that goal, if having added five more states to their footprint since this time last year is any indication of Lake Homes Realty’s successful expansion.

The company began its accent up the eastern coast last year with the addition of operations in Pennsylvania and New York.

With Maine operations now open, Lake Homes Realty extends into the country’s north-most part.

And with further expansion into Michigan and Florida, Lake Homes Realty is now working from the top to the bottom of the eastern United States.

“We able to better serve our lake real estate sellers, buyers and our own agents with each state we enter,” Phillips said. “We have seen success in the markets we are already established, and we look forward to seeing the same in Michigan, Maine and Florida.”

Lake Listings are Live!

Phillips emphasized lake listings in these new markets are live now on, the core of the Lake Homes Realty business model.

The site provides a one-stop shop for lake homes and land, currently featuring more than 65,000 properties. In the last year alone, more than 2 million people have made use of the site and its features.

“What’s so exciting about our company is that we are a national brokerage, and because of this we are currently able to pull lake real estate listing data from almost 100 MLSs across the country to provide the most comprehensive collection of lake property in local markets,” said Phillips.

In this way, the site is tailored to cater to the niche market’s unique buyers and sellers.

“Niche real estate markets, like lake real estate, are different from traditional markets in that buyers and sellers are looking for a specific type of property,” Phillips explained. “ facilitates an easier and more convenient shopping experience for these potential clients.”

Though Lake Homes Realty has a strong online component, Phillips reinforced the company’s belief in the power of local agents and the importance of marrying that power with the power of technology.

“A combination of those two key components is critical for success as a real estate company, and we can’t wait to see what great new agents and success our journeys in Maine, Florida and Michigan will bring.”