Josh E. Linder and Thomas Henry Egan III liken reaching Rangeley, Maine, to a trek to the North Pole. The designers, principals of Boston-based Evolve Residential, drove up in Linder’s hybrid right before the pandemic to install the finishing touches on a client’s new home. “It was a long, slow ascent up a mountain on black ice with fresh powder on top,” Linder said. “We didn’t see any other cars, just a tractor carrying logs barreling at us.”
It turns out there is a less precarious route; reassuring given the region gets an annual snowfall of 200-plus inches. Linder and Egan’s clients, a Cambridge family of five, purchased the four-bedroom home last year, primarily to take advantage of the snowmobiling trails that crisscross the area, which also boasts a series of lakes. “The views are showstopping,” Egan said. “There are towering pines, and everything is covered in snow.”
The house, however, was nothing special. Although nestled in the trees on a hill, the structure itself was essentially charmless. “It was a 1980s developer house in the most pristine natural setting,” Linder said. The first step was to remove the unsightly pressure-treated wood deck, which wrapped from front to back. To replace it, Egan designed a wide, covered front porch inspired by the Adirondack-style cottages that dot the area. “It needed a defining architectural feature,” he explained. “Now it looks homey and warm.”
The revamped façade, now stylish and welcoming, set the tone for the interior scheme. While the whole family convenes here from time to time, the husband, teenage sons, and their friends visit most often. The directive was that the rooms feel relaxed. The décor was not to echo that of the stylish summer home the firm designed for the family on Massachusetts’ South Coast. “We had to reinvent the concept of a ‘man cave,’ ” Egan said.
The question became how to infuse their signature vibrancy into spaces that felt laid back and approachable. “It had to be tamer overall — less colorful and not too primped,” Linder said. The solution was to embrace the color blue and lean into natural materials, including fir, birch, leather, and jute. “Navy can go in many directions, but at the end of the day, it’s a masculine color,” Egan said. “The house had to be comfortable for men from the moment they entered.”
Knowing everyone would enter from the side door, the designers turned the mudroom area into a cozy place to hang out. Two George Smith chairs that came from the wife’s parents are at the ready in front of a cast-iron wood stove against a new stacked-granite wall. The storage — baskets and hooks and a live-edge wood bench — happens behind them. “You can relax on the chairs while you warm your feet; it’s not just a repository for wet clothing and shoes,” Egan said.
In addition to dressing up the space with local stone and woodwork painted Benjamin Moore’s “Hale Navy,” the designers