Designs from America's youth, reinvented for life today
Cottage Classics are appealing small buildings, traditional designs that recall types popular from 1800 to 1950. We have adapted some of our favorites for life today, and offer construction drawings to build them. They could serve a variety of purposes, from a small house to backyard cottage, office, studio or shop, or as a rural getaway.
The designs are not reproductions, but recreations of historic types. Normal buildings. Seen anew they have a strong presence—at once fresh and timeless. These small buildings are intended as a background for life, and are easy to adapt as your own.
Can we live a larger life in a smaller home? Many have questioned whether downsizing might be a good plan. This does not mean reducing one's quality of life. A well-designed and shipshape cottage could be more fun to live in, as well as more efficient and cost effective. For a historic perspective on the evolution of cottages see Cottage Character .
Nearly 30% of all US households today are single-person and the figure is even higher in some metro areas. Not all of these people want to live in apartments or condos. The demographic shift has caused cities to rethink their single family zoning. Some rules have been relaxed to allow backyard cottages and accessory uses.
It can be expensive to design a custom cottage and develop a complete set of construction drawings. Cottage Classics offer an affordable alternative, providing a full set of construction drawings and license to build one unit for much less than typical architectural services.
Building a small house can also be relatively expensive. As an alternative Connor Homes can produce any of these designs as a component built package, and ship it directly to your site for a local contractor to assemble. Building components are pre-cut and ready to install, which reduces on-site labor.
Component construction in a shop also reduces production costs and waste, and could actually create a better quality building than one site-built. The work is done indoors, and not weather-dependent. Measurements can be more precise. Complex architectural details like a cornice return or a classic entry pediment can be pre-built and delivered to the site ready to install. Your contractor will be able to assemble the components much quicker than building them on-site, and likely with better results.
Once the kit arrives and foundations are ready, the building shell can be erected, closed-in and protected from weather in a matter of days. The sequence of subcontractors will be easier to schedule, and the complexity of project reduced. Other advantages of selecting a kit are that you will know from the get-go what the building will look like, how much it costs, and when it will be delivered—all open questions in custom design until you are well down the road.
Greek Revival Cottage
On the Cape, Truro, MA, 1890
Can we live a larger life in a smaller home?
We have developed a variety of designs and construction drawings for cottages and small buildings based on historic types. Here is a sampling. Let us know if you are interested in more information:
This handsome garden feature is intended for a single person. It's design is based on the iconic New England half-Cape, but with an open and bright interior. Living area includes kitchenette, bed alcove, bath and laundry. Building dimensions comply with typical land use requirements for backyard cottages.
Two car garage (25' x 26') with studio apartment above is modeled on converted barn. These were common 1915-1925 after automobiles became popular. Apartment includes a kitchenette and bath, and has a separate entry with enclosed stair. It could make a great home office, guest retreat, or teenager's room. Car Barn can be built alone, or with an attached one-story shop.
This English cottage gem recalls 1920s period revival designs that were built in picturesque streetcar suburbs. Basic footprint is only 29 by 30 feet, and could fit a small parcel. Living, dining and kitchen are on the main floor, with two bedrooms and baths above. Plan includes an optional "library addition" for main floor with vaulted ceilings, bath and closets that could double as a master suite.
Greek Revival Cottage
Cottage has a classic Greek Revival recessed porch, and the floor is raised for more light and privacy. Interior is 940 square feet with one bedroom and one bath. Living, dining and kitchen are an open space with vaulted ceilings. Hallway includes alcoves for laundry and a study. Design is really for a vacation house that could be built in town, and lived in year-round.
Design of this 18' wide saltbox recalls a Federal-era townhouse with a calm and symmetrical facade, delicate windows, dormers and pilasters. Narrow width allows room for an enclosed side garden and terrace. Inside, the plan is open and informal. There are two bedrooms and baths on second floor. A third floor loft extends full width in front with dormers.
Distinctive early 19th century school is adaptable for an office, cottage industry or live-in studio. In plan, the covered entry porch and hall open to a small room and bath on one side, and a large "classroom" on the other. This room has windows on three sides and a lantern above. Lantern brings daylight into the center, and in the evening shines as a beacon of civility.
Before 1960, small independent groceries like this were familiar features of residential neighborhoods. Many were located along streetcar or bus routes. Shopkeepers often lived above the store. This design is free-standing with windows on all sides and a simple hipped roof with wide overhangs. Both floors share an entry lobby. First floor storefront has extra tall ceilings and windows. Second floor could be a separate residence, studio or office. Building type and size could be ideal for a small business live/work arrangement in a neighborhood commercial zone.