Small Stone Ridge Cottage’s Clever Design Visually Increases Living Space

Simplicity pattern: A woodsy getaway proves the old adage that good things often come in small packages


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bedroomBed, bath and beyond: There’s just enough space in the sleeping alcove for a desk and chair. Judith’s artwork adds subtle color. The double-insulated wraparound windows bring the outdoors in without letting cold air in as well. “I love waking up to the sun,” the owner says

Given the tiny footprint, there’s an almost disproportionate amount of storage. “The client wanted to be able to keep the space looking clean and simple, and storage allows for that,” Sutherland remarks. On one side of the entrance hallway there’s an ample pantry-cum-storage room. Next to it, a mechanical room is big enough to also house a large refrigerator to supplement the small, under-counter model in the kitchen. On the facing wall is a spacious closet.

Small doesn’t necessarily translate to inexpensive, Sutherland explains. “The square-foot cost can be higher than for a big house, because fixed infrastructure costs aren’t spread out over a larger square-foot area. You have to have an excavator, for example, because you’ve got to dig the hole, and it doesn’t matter much whether they dig it for seven hours or 10, the base cost doesn’t change.”

Still, he used cost-cutting strategies; the kitchen and bathroom share a wall, for example, to keep plumbing to a minimum. Because another home once stood on the site, a well and septic system were already in place and just needed repairs. Sutherland recalls that the total cost of construction was around $175,000.

“We admire what Kurt did,” Judith says. “The proportions work — it’s not pretentious, just direct and clever”  

bathroomThe surprisingly sizeable bathroom (above) has a glassed-in shower, laundry equipment behind louvered doors, and a pedestal sink. But what the owner likes best is soaking in the claw foot tub when afternoon sunlight dapples the floor. The screened dining porch (below) makes the most of the little house’s woodland setting

screened in porch

Judith and her husband (who value their privacy) bought the house a few years ago. They too were in search of a simple weekend getaway from the city, although, as residential architects themselves, they planned to enlarge the tiny house a little. “But just as we closed on it, the economy tanked and business went kerflooey,” Judith says. Plans are on hold, but one inspired minor change — switching the solid entry door for a glass one — opened up the lines of sight so that you can now see the outdoors in all directions.

“We admire what Kurt did,” Judith says. “The proportions work — it’s not pretentious, just direct and clever. We’ll be inspired by it” when any future renovations take place, she adds. An idea they’ve tossed around is to push the wall with the woodstove further back into woods so that the house would be longer. “We could add a bedroom and a deck in the very nice glade there,” she remarks.  

artworkArtful arrangements: A small still life dresses up the dining table. Judith is an artist as well as an architect, and her husband makes ceramics, but they keep the walls and most surfaces free of clutter

Meanwhile, her wish list includes installing a Clei bed, an upmarket (as in expensive) Italian-made Murphy-style bed that comes in designs that fold away in various ingenious configurations. It would keep the bed hidden during the day, but wouldn’t solve the biggest drawback of a one-room house. “It’s quite intimate, let’s put it that way,” Judith says. “Our daughter has slept on the couch from time to time, but there’s no privacy, and friends haven’t been thrilled at the idea of sleeping on an air mattress. We’re thinking of buying a little Airstream for guests.... Inherently, a one-room house is not going to afford a lot of roaming around. It gets crowded if we have more than two people over for dinner. Six, and we have to start moving furniture.”

On the plus side is the ease of caring for a compact house, the pretty woodland setting, and especially the dappled sunlight that filters through the house. “There’s a magical changing pattern of light throughout the day that’s delightful to observe,” Judith says. “I lie in the bath at sunset and watch patterns of light on the floor.”

» Return to Hudson Valley Home Fall 2013


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