Renovating this 1960s ranch-style house in Maine is a “rags to riches” story that may achieve LEED Platinum. Jesse Thompson, AIA, partner at Kaplan Thompson Architects, and his wife Betsy Scheintaub, a fiber textile artist, collaborated on the Ranch Revival project while living in the run-down house with their two children.

The resulting plan expanded the 1,100 square foot house to 1,900 square feet, while retaining the existing footprintb with the addition of a second story where two bedrooms are located. The main floor was reconfigured with an open great room, master bedroom, and guest room/office. The budget for the project was less than $100 per square foot.


Thompson assumed the role of general contractor and upgraded the building envelope with the addition of air barrier elements and insulation. The overly wet basement was dried out with a two-inch layer of rigid insulation over the concrete floor followed by a new slab and the application of a four-inch insulation layer to the foundation walls. Blower door tests confirmed that Passive House EnerPHit targets were met.

The interior design is influenced by midcentury Scandinavian Modernism and utilizes Baltic birch plywood flooring, low- and no-VOC finishes, a high-efficiency wood-burning fireplace, condensing gas boiler, whole-house heat-recovery ventilator system, Energy Star appliances, LED lighting. Plans for a photovoltaic array should reduce the current heating costs of $500 a year to practically nothing.