A Peak at Sunday River

A contemporary log cabin at the edge of the Sunday River celebrates the outdoors with stunning views and no shortage of wood details

Just off the access road, not far from ski-bum meccas and rental shops, across a bridge over river rock, a dormer peaks up from a bend in Vista Road. Only upon turning down the driveway on the flipside of that curve does it become clear that the humble roof attaches to a 4,500-square-foot contemporary log chalet.

Inside that peak, 23-foot ceilings and a wall of windows provide a prime view of the main attraction off the backside of the hidden house: Sunday River.

Framed by white birch trees and pines, which were also used throughout construction of the five-bedroom log cabin, sit sweeping views of the mountain’s gnarliest run, White Heat, on the most westerly of its eight peaks, Whitecap. In the winter the barren view extends to trails on Locke and Barker. But the mountain, just two miles away, is only half of the draw of this Newry home.

Below the winding mountain bike trails carved out in the distance, the backyard slopes down to the lesser known—and actual—Sunday River, a tributary of the Androscoggin River with 14 miles of pristine, cold mountain water.

The lot itself, like the river, was underappreciated when Rick Rediker purchased it at the height of the Great Recession. In 2009 he snagged the prime land for $79,000. Today, his 4.6 acres alone, with a combined 768 feet of frontage on both sides of the river, is worth a quarter of a million. “Most people drove right past without ever noticing it until the lot was cleared and the home was built,” says Rediker, an avid skier.

Few parcels in the Peaks, a 67-lot subdivision with some of the area’s best panoramic views, or anywhere else in Newry or Bethel permit building that close to the river. With a a state waiver that allowed it to be built 25 feet closer to the river than specified by regulations, this house sits a mere 75 feet from the water.

It took Rediker and his wife, Nanette, a few years to pick the right second home to one day pass on to their two adult sons, Shae and Devin. Rediker wanted a home that would take him back to his family and his Maine roots after moving out of state as a kid.

The retired CPA used skills he picked up working as head accountant for a company that builds custom homes to find a cost-effective way to construct a log home along the river. Rediker chose Quality Home Builders of Bethel, and company founder Mark Dirago broke ground on the once-barren lot in 2014. Within six months he had completed a custom version of Katahdin Cedar Log Homes’ Lakeview model, drawing inspiration from the mountains and the river.

The foundation was laid to make way for full-sized windows on three sides so that what would have been a walkout “basement” could be appraised as a livable ground floor. Two attractive retaining walls with stone facades were designed to match the boulders along the water’s edge. The theme was carried into the interior with matching river rock propane fireplaces on the ground and main floors, Brazilian river rock granite countertops (known as Black Marinace) in the kitchen, and pebble shower floors.

The idea was to blend the inside with the outside, starting with the trees. Layered wood textures enhance the home’s natural beauty. In the great room, the grain of the gable walls plays against the grain of the decorative and structural beams made from spruce for a hand-hewn look. Vertical pine ceiling boards match the joists under the loft, and a large spruce log purlin roof system forms a triangle on the ceiling in a spruce log truss. The timeless cedar built-ins and pine bunk beds, the sleek hickory cabinets, and even the faux-wood tiles in the shower are all an ode to the outdoors.

“It was important for me to buy mostly Maine materials and support local businesses,” says Rediker. Except for the southern yellow pine on the great room’s floors, all of the wood used in the house is from Maine.

The energy-efficient home was built to last more than 100 years. Unlike typical uninsulated pine log homes, Rediker’s home has cedar interior walls and roof that are lined with mold- and insect-resistant cellulose and extra-thick, tightly sealed foam beyond that in a typical Katahdin model. The 95-percent-efficient propane heating system feeds radiant heat on the lower level and the hot water baseboards in the upper levels.

“Katahdin Cedar Log Homes are different, which is one major reason I don’t just build them; I also recently became a dealer,” says Dirago. “I absolutely love the efficiency, the beauty, and the style of these homes. I also enjoy being able to add my own craftsmanship and commitment to detail, quality, and customer service.” Dirago reimagined interior accents such as a distressed cedar sliding barn door leading to the walk-in pantry and a custom staircase showcasing half-log treads and no risers.

Doubles abound in the well-appointed space, including two kitchens with stainless-steel appliances and wet bars, two full dining areas, and two living rooms. The lively lower level, with its acid-stained cement floor, is home to a red cedar sauna, pool table, poker table, and Sonos surround-sound system that runs through the house.

But this deluxe yet approachable cedar home, which comfortably sleeps 16, is really designed to be enjoyed outside, after the activities Newry and Bethel are known best for: skiing, snowmobiling, biking, hiking, and kayaking. The mountain views and the trout-stocked river, which dips five feet down in the spring after the snow melts, invite outdoor lounging. A covered porch is located roadside, and a large wraparound deck hugs the owners’ bedroom on the side of the house. But maybe the likelier choices for lazing around are the eight-person hot tub on the patio and the 12-by-12 octagonal cedar log gazebo on the back porch. Or one might walk down a small staircase and sit on a simple handmade log bench beside the rustic fire pit.

“It’s so relaxing to look out at the mountain and listen to the water rush over the rocks,” says Rediker. Those are the moments , he says, when he realizes just how lucky he was to stumble upon this hidden lot.