Cottage Classics are appealing small buildings from earlier times reinvented and adapted for life today. We offer designs and plans for their construction. They could become a backyard cottage or studio office, a weekend getaway or a smaller home for someone wanting to downsize.
These designs are not tricked-out but for normal buildings grounded in our historic building traditions. They attempt to bridge the gap between custom and stock plans--efficient and practical for today yet much better designed. Special care has been given to proportions, scale, details and craft-- fundamentals usually lost in standard designs. Many people would like to build a small accessory building but are discouraged by the expense and complexity of custom projects. Standard designs for handsome small buildings and prefabricated options remain surprisingly few.
Our designs are not reproductions of specific buildings but historical types. We have combined features found in the best models of a specific type and style. Care was taken to make them stylistically consistent and authentic. Integrity gives the buildings a strong presence— at once fresh and timeless.
Accessory buildings for single family houses are popular once again. For decades they were outlawed by land use ordinances. The demographic shift to smaller households, more people working from home or aging-in-place, and the increased demand for affordable housing have all pushed cities to accept accessory buildings and allow their construction in single family zones.
Building a backyard cottage is now common in many communities. This allows single people, younger and older, to live near families rather than be isolated in apartments or condos.
What is missing are designs that fit well into historic pre-1960 neighborhoods. For many cities their most appealing districts were built in the streetcar era (1900-1925). Designs for cottages and outbuildings that fit the styles of that period would be welcome additions.
Americans are said to be retiring at the rate of ten thousand a day and many singles and couples are considering how they might adapt their homes to age-in-place. In cities that have wisely required owner-occupancy to build an accessory unit, the owners can live in either the house or cottage. This proved to be a simple and elegant solution to safeguard their neighbors from absent or unresponsive owners who might buy houses to rent as duplexes or worse.
Land use ordinances limit the size of accessory cottages to about 900 square feet. This could be adequate for a couple if efficient and well designed. Downsizing does not mean reducing one's quality of life. Living in a shipshape cottage could be more enjoyable and a relief from maintenance for a big house. It is possible to live a larger life in a smaller home.
Planning and building a custom cottage can be a complicated and expensive process. A better option may be a well-considered plan book design that takes advantage of sound historic precedents.
In response to these trends we are developing a variety of new designs for small houses and other buildings based on historic types. Here is a sampling. Let us know if you are interested in more information or house plans.
This simple garden cottage is intended to be a comfortable home for a single person. Design is based on the iconic New England Half-Cape but with an open plan and bright interior. Interior includes a living-dining area, kitchenette, bed alcove, bath and laundry. Building size complies with typical limits for backyard cottages. This design can also be prefabricated as a kit and shipped to the site.
Two car garage (25' x 26') with studio apartment above is modeled on a converted early 20th century barn with loft. They were common features in backyards and along alleyways once automobiles became popular. Upstairs apartment includes a kitchenette, bedroom alcove and bath. It has a separate entrance from the garage with an enclosed stair. The design works well for a home office, guest house, or rental apartment. Car Barn can include a one-story shop/studio addition as seen in our drawing.
This romantic English cottage is modeled on 1920s period revival houses built in streetcar suburbs. The footprint is only 29 by 30 feet and can fit a small parcel. Living, dining and kitchen are on the main floor with two bedrooms and baths above. Scheme includes an optional "library addition" on the first floor with vaulted ceilings, bath and closets; this could double as a master suite.
Greek Revival Cottage
This 940 square foot one bedroom cottage has a Greek Revival front porch across the front with closed-in portion for entry. The floor is raised for better light and privacy. Living-dining room and kitchen are a single space with vaulted ceilings. The hallway to bedroom and bath includes alcoves for a laundry and study. This is really a vacation house that could be built in town and lived in year-round.
Charleston Single House
Design of this 18 foot wide Charleston "single house" creates a small version of the city's revered Federal-era townhouses with calm and symmetrical façades, delicate windows, dormers and pilasters. The narrow two-story end faces the street and allows for a generous side garden. Floor plans, like historic precedent, are one room deep for good natural light and cross ventilation.
This classic 19th century rural schoolhouse is adaptable for an office, studio, or cottage industry. In plan, the entry hall opens to a smaller room with bath on one side, and a tall "classroom" on the other. Larger room has windows on three sides with a lantern above. Upright and proud, this design would be striking in a landscape.
Independent neighborhood grocers were common features of pre-1950 residential neighborhoods. The shopkeepers often lived above their store. This design is for a two-story freestanding building with a simple hipped roof with wide overhangs. There is a shared entrance lobby so the floors can have separate tenants. First floor shopfront has extra-tall ceilings and windows. Second floor could become an apartment, studio or office. This design would fit well in a small town or neighborhood commercial district and ideal for a live/work residence.