A Flexible Home

The adaptable design of Kimberly Sampson and Adam Maltese’s home accommodates their growing family and lets them get the most out of living in nature.

| March/April 2017

  • Seclusion
    Kimberly Sampson and Adam Maltese were dedicated to living in harmony with nature, and cleared as few trees as possible for their small home and schoolhouse. The buildings are clustered at the far end of the property, creating a sense of seclusion.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Staircase
    A clean, minimalist design ensures both building and maintenance remained efficient and affordable.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Goats
    The family goats, Forest and Leaf, are tended by many, including Kimberly and Adam’s children and Kimberly’s students.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Kitchen Garden
    Before moving, Kimberly helped run a two-acre community farm. Now she calls her expansive kitchen garden “small.”
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Front Steps
    The Sampson-Maltese home has had to be flexible as the kids have grown from children to teens.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Tree Swing
    Enabling their children to grow up amid nature was the driving factor behind building this home.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Living Room
    Open, flowing spaces, lots of light and exposed ceiling beams help the small space feel expansive.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Kitchen
    Though it’s not large, the kitchen was designed to maximize storage and efficiency.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Dining Nook
    A built-in dining nook saves space and enables conversations with the cook in the adjoining kitchen.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Cooking
    Kimberly says the functional kitchen allows her family to take on elaborate meal preparation or food preservation projects.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Chickens
    An outdoor dining table on the covered porch helps the family live more daily life outdoors.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Loft Bedroom
    The large, open loft structure of the children’s bedrooms has allowed them to rework the space numerous times to suit evolving needs for privacy and togetherness.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • School Room
    In Kimberly’s nature-based school, work from Montessori and Waldorf traditions combine with real-life outdoor skills.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Nature Immersion
    The home, buildings and garden are nestled in amid the forest for total immersion in nature.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Porch
    Kimberly and Adam’s two 12-year-old daughters enjoy relaxing on the house’s large porch.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Leaf Masks
    Kimberly’s students model masks made with fall leaves.
    Photo by Erin Little
  • Horse Cart
    Kimberly and her students sometimes play with a horse cart her family found for free from an area farm.
    Photo by Erin Little

  • Seclusion
  • Staircase
  • Goats
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Front Steps
  • Tree Swing
  • Living Room
  • Kitchen
  • Dining Nook
  • Cooking
  • Chickens
  • Loft Bedroom
  • School Room
  • Nature Immersion
  • Porch
  • Leaf Masks
  • Horse Cart

Educator Kimberly Sampson and architectural designer Adam Maltese were driven to design their small, efficient and hyperfunctional dream home on a wooded lot in Maine by a common parental desire — to do the best they could for their children. Having grown up in upstate New York, Kimberly says she took a childhood spent in nature for granted. But as her children grew up in a coastal Maine town and she saw the emphasis on busy schedules and technology in so many modern lives, she realized she wanted to give her kids the opportunity for something more.

Kimberly and Adam’s desire to create a home in nature led them to a neglected, off-the-beaten-path tract of land a few miles from the Maine coast that had been something of a dump site for area residences, as well as a nearby sawmill. It had housed gravel pits and was completely overgrown after having been clear-cut in the 1950s. But Kimberly and Adam liked its size, manageable at four acres; its diverse ecosystems, which include pine forest, wetlands, ponds and bogs; and its seclusion, a few miles outside the small town of Damariscotta. 

Jumping In

Adam and Kimberly say they both have a knack for jumping into projects with both feet, and they certainly did when it came to building the house. They bought the land and built the house in less than a year, with Adam handling nearly every task himself (along with a few days’ help from generous family members), from setting the foundation piers to building the extensive front porch (one of Kimberly’s aesthetic requests). Adam’s father was a general contractor, so Adam has a lifetime of experience with building projects, and his work as an architectural designer (he worked freelance at the time the house was built and now works for design-build firm Knickerbocker Group in nearby Boothbay) meant he had plenty of design ideas for the couple’s own home. “This was a chance to try some building techniques I’d wanted to try but hadn’t had the opportunity,” Adam says. “The concept was to keep the building as clean and crisp as possible and with as few components as possible, and to make each component do multiple jobs.” 

They chose to keep the house small, in part for construction practicality. By sticking with the size of the largest commonly available building materials, Adam was able to construct the home in a modular style, keep costs down, and source supplies as close to home as possible. While Adam and Kimberly wanted the home to be efficient, they valued an adaptive, workable design over aiming for net-zero. “I see it time and again,” Adam says. “People will build these houses that are wonderfully efficient, and five years later they remodel and they kind of undo the resources they’ve tried to be conservative of. They haven’t used a lot of heating oil, but then they cut a hole in a wall and replace windows with new ones and upgrade other systems — it sort of blows the whole idea.” 



So instead of aiming for state-of-the-art, they chose to aim for functional, durable and flexible — a home that would last for many years. There were also livability reasons they wanted the house to be small. By staying small, they would minimize their home maintenance requirements, and they’d be able to opt for higher quality — even on their trim budget. “I didn’t want to take care of our house often,” Kimberly says. “We’re pretty tidy, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time maintaining a tidy home. So we knew we wanted a small home. But there were also a few beautiful things we wanted. If it was small, we could have the beautiful rug or sofa.” 

 A Natural Education

After the family moved and started settling in, Kimberly, a lifelong educator, began to envision a new purpose for their land — a new project to dive into. “Here our children have this lovely experience of being able to have their early years outside,” she says. She wanted to share that experience with more than just her own family. “I’ve been caring for children and families for more than 20 years, and now more than ever I see the benefits of children spending time outside. I have seen that outdoor time helps children grow strong and helps build their imaginations. Conflict resolution is rarely needed between children, and I feel in the long run children perform better academically. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to have a deeper lifelong appreciation of the environment.”



Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds