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KHS work-in-progress: Touisset small-house renovation/addition

With this post I'm starting a new category at House Enthusiast where I'll share "KHS work-in-progress". I posted some exterior and interior progress photos of this project over the winter in a "New-Small-House book tidbit" about transformation. Now the Touisset small-house renovation/addition is nearing substantial completion.

This is a kitchen/dining/family area addition off a c. 1910 ish cottage bungalow. We designed it to resemble an enclosed porch inside and out, though it's new construction. Windows wrap three sides and a cathedral ceiling with mahogany beams give it a porch-like quality. Daylight is shared by each of the overlapping kitchen/dining/family spaces and the increased ceiling height allows the various spaces to feel larger than the sum of their parts.

Because windows line the counter work surface there are no overhead cabinets and therefore no undercabinet lights, so to provide task lighting, low-voltage cable lights stretch between beams. Tall cabinets, not seen to the right, provide storage for items that would otherwise have occupied overhead cabinets. A sliver of the built-in banquette is visible beyond the shaker-style cabinets and soapstone counters. The banquette and the built-in bench adjacent to the stair provide discreet locations for intimate gathering and slight remove from activity elsewhere in the space. A new gas heating stove is yet to be installed on the other side of bar-counter wall. The existing stair to the right, which used to run along the exterior wall of the house, now opens into the addition and sports a new guardrail on the addition side of the stair which plays off the existing square baluster design of the original guardrail on the other side of the stair.

Southern yellow heart pine floors tie the addition into the existing home and a family of industrial-inspired light fixtures with smoked glass and exposed filament bulbs provide cohesive warm accents throughout the kitchen/dining/family area. This multipurpose space offers a variety of spatial experiences for a variety of activities which will allow it to live larger.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 6:10PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Summer 2015 New England garden tours

We're in luck, WBUR's The ARTery has compiled some upcoming New England garden tours for us again this summer. I plan to attend, at minimum, the Newport Secret Garden Tour June 26-28. Browse The ARTery listing to see if there's a tour or two you can catch this season. It's a delightful way to spend an afternoon, and an invaluable learning opportunity for this idjit gardener.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 10:06AM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Juror for the AIA Connecticut Alice Washburn 2015 Award 

I had the pleasure of serving on the jury for the Alice Washburn Award at the Connecticut chapter of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) last week. The award is co-sponsored by Connecticut Magazine and recognizes "the thoughtful and delightful adaptation of tradition to address 21st century needs" in houses and accessory buildings. It's named for Alice Washburn who designed numerous Colonial Revival-style houses in Connecticut near her Cheshire home in the 1920s. The 2015 award winner will be published in an upcoming issue of Connecticut Magazine, so I won't let the cat out of the bag. 

I was particularly taken by the breadth and quality of the submissions in the accessory-building category; there were some real charmers ranging from several small curiosities to a vast specialized structure. I'm not sure if the winner in the accessory-building category will be part of the Connecticut Magazine story, but if it isn't, I'll be sure to link to the winning accessory building here at House Enthusiast.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 9:03AM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

Design snapshot: Norwegian wood

I'm part Norwegian. A distant part. I've never been to Norway, but I enjoy making krumkakes for Christmas as my great grandmother did. That's about the extent of my tenuous Norwegian connection. Yet I find myself unwittingly drawn toward structures bearing the slightest hint of Norwegian influence. So it is no surprise that when I was ambling about between design shops in Cambridge a few weekends ago, I stopped dead in my tracks when I came upon the Cambridge Skating Club. I had no idea it was the Cambridge Skating Club, at the time. In fact, from the gable end, I thought it was an impressive residence.

I quickly wielded my iPhone camera and began snapping shots, some up-close of the entrance gable end, hoping my proximity wouldn't elicit a less-than-charmed homeowner (as has happened before). I was in luck. I scurried around to the side and there discovered the identity of the structure. Later, I learned from the Club's website that the Club was constructed around 1930 in a "cheerful Norwegian style".

Vertical board and battens with picket tips in the upper gable-end teamed with horizontal clapboards punctuated with a pointed arch over the entry door, an open rake, and the dynamic color scheme all speak to its Norwegian inspiration. And that's a terra-cotta tile roof, too. Projecting out at the top of the gable trim, is, I believe, a carved red dragon head, which (from what I've just read online) was a Norse motif found in Dragestil (dragon-style) houses in Scandinavia in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Now, I think I want a carved dragon head on the front gable end of my place. Not sure what the neighbors would make of it.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 2:50PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off

New-Small-House book tidbits: Retreat inspiration

KHS small screen-house/sauna schematic elevationsThere are five small retreats featured in the small-houses book I'm writing. A small retreat is a getaway like a studio, an entertaining space, a napping spot, etc. in the backyard or off on its own plum parcel. Small retreats can explore -- in an even smaller package -- many of the same design strategies that help small houses to feel comfortable, airy, and spacious despite the size of their footprint.

When it came time for me to design the small retreat above, which is both a screened space and sauna, I took inspiration from not only the retreats in the book but a few of the houses. The resulting schematic design is a nod to some of the gently sloped roofs in the book, cathedral ceiling spaces, large apertures, long views, versatile layouts, ancillary niches, indoor/outdoor connections, succinct finish selections, and choice quality materials (which are noted on the sketches above). What you can't tell from these sketches is that the retreat's very existence will allow me to shape an engaged outdoor court between it and the ranch house renovation/addition it accompanies. All these features will enable a variety of experiences in both the small retreat and the outdoor rooms it fashions, adding much more to the property than the sum of its parts.

Like me, I'm hoping you'll take inspiration from the book. Look for it on bookstore shelves in mid-October 2015.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 6:56PM by Registered CommenterKatie Hutchison in | Comments Off
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