Design snapshot: Romantic cottage & garden

This cottage architecture, complete with cottage garden, speaks to me every time I pass it. In the ten + years I’ve been admiring it, the house has changed color, and the garden has evolved, but my affinity for it has never wavered. This romance is founded on curves.

The curved-top casements and trim, just kissing the eave fascia, and the decorative shared pilasters between them suggest a cheerful, well-crafted, and sunny space within. The gate with its varied height pickets picks up on the curve theme and, when slightly ajar, allows passersby to peek into a whimsical garden. The robin’s-egg blue house-color accentuates the bright palette of the flowers, which border the serpentine, stepping-stone path, and lends it a storybook look.

It’s a romantic ensemble for which I’ll never tire.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Design snapshot: Bustins Island Beaut

Waumbek, a cottage on Bustins Island, Maine, is one of roughly 100, mostly antique, small dwellings that ring the three-quarter-mile length of this summer community.

The deep porch, wrapping around the narrow, one and one-half story gable-end shades over-sized windows from harsh afternoon sun, while low window sills welcome softer daylight. Such generous windows can help a small space feel larger. I’ve written about the appealing pattern of “small house, big windows” in a previous design snapshot. The windows' black sashes add crisp borders, like eye-liner around twinkling eyes.

Waumbek is practically a porch with a house, rather than the other way round. The sizable porch adds invaluable outdoor-living space, furthering Waumbek’s surprising sense of spaciousness, considering its size.

Wide, cross-braced guard rails pick up on the broad strokes of the windows and ample porch, suggesting a more generous space than a busy, smaller-scale, baluster design would. Angled brackets on the porch posts quietly echo the cross rails and frame a more personable space between bays.

No surprise, I favor the gable-end treatment of green, accent shingles defining the tippy top, while a white, trim board, in-line with the second floor window-head trim, transitions to the yellow clapboards of the upper-middle section, above the lower porch roof.

To me, Waumbek is an ideal cottage, one to inspire future designs.

For additional reading about Bustins Island and its history, consider The Story of Bustins, a Maine Summer Island.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Reading recommendation: Yankee Modern: The Houses of Estes/Twombly

cover photo via amazon.comSomeone asked me if I like Modern houses the other day. It was a simple enough question, but I found myself delivering a convoluted answer. 

What do we mean by Modern? What does liking it or not liking it mean? Does the answer classify me as a member of one camp and not another?

I offer you Yankee Modern as a partial answer. It features ten houses by the Rhode Island firm of Estes/Twombly Architects. Both principles are fellow RISD alumni, with Estes graduating 20 years before me. 

Their work, by their own description, portrays a "quiet modernism, rooted in New England tradition". It's simple, straightforward, spare, and regionally inspired in design and material.

It's neither Modern (of the mid-century variety) nor traditional.  It is of today and of its place. And, yeah, I like it.

I like the photo-centric book too.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

Backyard retreat web tour, house tour, and garden tour all-in-one

Did you see The New York Times article last week about the garage retreat near Seattle?  It's a fun and sophisticated 250-square-foot getaway.

A small space of one's own, beyond the hustle and bustle of everyday life, can remind us of life's simple pleasures. Such little buildings generally tread lightly on both the environment and our pocketbooks, while recharging our spirits.

The design of small retreats, backyard and beyond would be a great topic for a book, don't you think?  I thought so and was working on such a book a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, it fell victim to the publishing industry's downsizing which began in mid-2008. I still believe there's a book there, waiting to be discovered.

You can sample a Katie Hutchison Studio small retreat design by visiting the Manchester Garage/Garden Room page in the KHS architectural portfolio.

I imagine my fascination with the topic started with my childhood backyard retreat and was reinforced by my mother's current, petite summerhouse in her Connecticut village. I wrote about her garden and her little retreat in a House Garden Primer.

Get a peek at her garden summerhouse in this short Flip video.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

A Modern Farmhouse in Vermont

Photos (and drawings) provided by Susan and Ryan Hayes.A couple builds a smaller, affordable, “green” house

When I called Susan Hayes to talk to her about her new, affordable, “green” house in Williston, Vermont, one of the first things she said was, “We really wanted to respect the local vernacular…” She and her husband Ryan created what they call a “Modern Farmhouse”. The exterior was inspired by the farmhouse Ryan’s dairy-farming great grandparents’ owned, and “the inside is really sparse which is more of a Modern feel,” explains Susan. Their hybrid aesthetic is unusual for a “green” home.  The fact that it’s smaller is a “green” hallmark.

Smaller and greener
I found Susan and Ryan through their blog Building Green in Vermont in which they've documented their home’s “green” evolution. “We really weren’t that enlightened when we started,” admits Susan. But thanks, in part, to a lengthy local permitting process, they had time to research and educate themselves in efficient and sustainable design. Susan discovered that “size is absolutely critical.” After estimates for an initial design proved too expensive, she and Ryan realized they would need to downsize to keep the construction of their first house on budget and “green”. They scrapped plans for a 2200 sq. ft house (not including a finished, walk-out basement) for a 1568 sq. ft house (not including a finished, walk-out basement).

Read More