A well-traveled couple finds a way to live large while downsizing in the vibrant community of Highland Green.
Initially, David Mosley only visited Highland Green to rule it out. He had heard about the 55-plus community and his first impression was a strong one. “We used to play Topsham in high school sports,” says the Norway native. “Why would I ever want to live there?” He and his husband, Andy Masland, were seeking a place to relocate. The couple had traveled all over the world, and as they readied themselves for the next stage of life, they thought about all the possibilities available to them. They could move to Tahoe, where Mosley once lived, or Seattle, where the couple first met. They could live in Massachusetts, New York, California—or what about Japan? (“We did think we would probably end up in Portland,” Masland says.) So moving his life back to Topsham was the last thing on Mosley’s mind as he steered his car off route 196 and onto the hilly suburban roads of Highland Green.
He got out and walked around the community, which is spread out over 635 forested acres, including a 230-acre nature preserve on the Cathance River. He talked to some residents. He saw the conservation land, and he noted the smart gables on each compact house. He saw porches for lazy Sunday reading and trails for after-dinner walks. He noticed that people seemed to really like their neighborhood—even though he was looking for something low maintenance, this wasn’t quite like the condominium associations or housing developments he had seen before. “I became really positive about this place, really quickly,” he says. “It actually scared me!”
Mosley tells me this story, with some assistance from Masland, as we sit on their spacious four-season porch, which looks out to a small garden and a forested patch of land, complete with squirrels chattering and birds singing. This house is different from their last home—a sprawling, old-fashioned lake house on the shores of Newfound Lake in New Hampshire—but they brought inspiration from that beloved abode into this one. The beadboard walls are rustic and warm, and the ceramic tile flooring, printed to look like faded oak, is reminiscent of the wide planks that lined their previous porch. The room faces south, which means it stays warm year-round (and if it doesn’t, the floors are heated underneath to make the space extra cozy and houseplant-friendly). “One of the things we liked about Highland Green is that we could customize the house plans,” Masland says. “We went with a slightly more traditional look at the front, but this nice big porch in the back. It’s not a lake view, but then again, I don’t have to listen to motorboats roaring around all day.”
The porch, Masland reveals, was his idea (though both men do enjoy the indoor–outdoor space). “We decided to each pick one thing we really wanted,” explains Mosley, “And I wanted that kitchen.” He leads me inside and I spend a moment touching the custom-made cherry cabinets, made by Home Again of South Portland. The red undertones of this smooth-grained hardwood wood echo throughout the open-concept living space. “We picked cherry to match a lot of our furniture,” Mosley says. While Masland was involved in choosing the finishes and furnishings, Mosley narrowed down the seemingly infinite number of choices available and presented his husband with three options for each element, from countertops to cabinets, appliances to tiles. They worked quickly and created the design for their elegant kitchen in a single day. “I didn’t want any pulls,” Mosley says, “because of my arthritis. I wanted to keep everything clean and simple— and simple to clean.” He selected quartz countertops, stainless steel handles for the cabinets, rust-colored tile backsplash for behind the sink, and a professional grade Thermador stove with six burners and a stainless steel backsplash. “We also wanted two dishwashers to make clean up easy after family gatherings,” Mosley says.
While the appliances are certainly enviable, the greatest triumph of the kitchen is how well it works with the couple’s collection of solid wood furniture. Throughout the house, they have mixed new items with their collection of family heirlooms and flea market finds. There’s an old pine chest and a walnut hutch made in 1885, which they found at an antique shop in Littleton, New Hampshire. (“We wanted a bar that wasn’t a bar,” Mosley says, “and this is the perfect compromise.”) They have a player piano and an antique partner’s desk, a formidable piece that lives in Masland’s study. While Mosley no longer works full time, Masland
hasn’t retired yet, so a private study was a must for him. (He works for a Japanese technology company and still takes frequent trips to Japan. Mosley works at a library part-time—a natural fit for the former bookseller.) These pieces play nicely with the large dining room table—big enough to seat ten people—purchased at Country Farm Furniture in Bath, and the graceful, high-backed barstools that sidle up to the kitchen island. Since they designed their first-floor home with an open floor plan, it’s necessary that the kitchen, dining room, and living room furniture all work together. Thanks to their similar colors and unifying style, they do.
Although their art collection is slightly more eclectic, the uncluttered walls and traditional textiles help to ground the space, letting each painting and drawing breathe. “Our art is an amalgamation of things we love,” says Mosley. “We have an oil painting that my dad gave my mom for her 40th birthday, and an oil painting that was David’s grandparents’,” adds Masland. “But we also have items we bought together.” They have prints from Tasmania, plates from Bratislava and Sicily, and watercolors from Kashmir. It’s clear that their new house is the product of years of thoughtful purchases; from the plush wool rugs from Araby Rugs in Falmouth to the watercolors from Japan, the space is a reflection of their lives’ journey.
While the past is visible everywhere, they have also given quite a bit of thought to their future, too. Mosley and Masland plan to age in this home, and they have designed it accordingly. Early on in the process, they decided to invest in solar panels. They have 54 panels on the roof, which generate 95% of their power. “We looked at this as a cost we could fix in our retirement years,” explains Mosley. “We are paying ahead for our electricity. We saw this as part of our aging-in-place process.” Aging also played a role in smaller purchases, like the firm-cushioned living room sofa. “I wanted to always be able to get up from it easily,” laughs Mosley.
“We really just wanted to create a space where we could be comfortable,” Masland says. As a result, their style has gotten more casual over the years, and both Masland and Mosley are happy with this transition. “We didn’t put anything in here to impress anyone,” says Mosley. “We did this for us.”