How To Cottage in the Twenty First Century
The cottage architype has thrived here in the United states throughout our history. The term cottage has been used to describe everything from rural worker shacks and water side vacation homes to the guilded mansions of Newport’s elite on Bellevue Avenue. It is typically a one-story building though, with living spaces on the first floor and sleeping rooms tucked up into the low-slung roof above. Despite its usual low-profile it has been crafted in many revival styles with a range of human friendly details that are inspiring and attractive. But can it support a modern lifestyle and retain its charm?
The magic in modern cottaging is to manage and encourage its duality. A successful cottage should be small, yet big, and low, yet proud. My clients’ new home sits comfortably on their long diamond shaped lot. The asymmetric footprint seems organic, yet it’s quite formal. The garage starts parallel with the lot line but the bend in plan allows the nested gables of the main entry to sit subtly yet proudly on the lot’s centerline. It runs from the cool northeast to the toasty southwestern exposure, and that’s the perfect orientation for the backyard feature: not a picturesque pond or formal garden, but an in-ground pool. They are self-proclaimed pool people, and by design the homes’ layout pulls you right in.
The front elevation’s three gables are simple shapes but in concert they shout prominently. A modest shed dormer peeks out of the roof to let you know you being watched, but you keep walking toward it anyway because you know you’re welcome. The architecture is rural, but well dressed. The siding and trim details are a combination of Monticello meets American Gothic. Powdered wigs and pitchforks are welcome, but not encouraged.
The first floor is uber open. The stairs to the upstairs bedrooms has been pushed off center and tucked behind the focal point fireplace. If you tire of the fire, there’s abundant glass to the rear of the home that draws you past the well fitted kitchen to expose you to the outdoors. The Lanai suspends you in limbo, somewhere between house and pool, and it is very okay to float there for a while and enjoy the outdoor fireplace or the shade of the wide roof above.
Sooner than later though you’ll feel the pull of the pool. The water’s reflection of the sky is the perfect metaphor for heaven. So, dive in and enjoy the positive ions, but check out all of the details. Perhaps the devil is there somewhere too?
How to Cottage in the Twenty First Century