18 Haggerty Hill - Guesthouse Ground-up Construction
After advising the owners on the purchase of their 15 acres of land, the goal was to create a master plan for the property that included a 4000 square foot main house and a 900 square foot guest cottage that would be built first. The driveway, septic system and other infrastructure was designed and installed for the both houses and a site for the guest cottage was chosen that anticipated the site of the main house that would be built in the future.
The guest house was conceived as a transitional modern farm building - a barn-like structure that evoked a 19th Century schoolhouse. The house was built to be 30 feet square and a steeply pitched roof. The front of the building was designed to have few windows to create a strong sense of privacy for both houses. The 25 foot cathedral ceiling and massive walls of back-facing windows give the small building an open and airy feeling despite its small size. The interior design was meant to be classic transitional modern barn with soaring interior volumes, exposed collar ties and a simple palate of white oak, white paint and basic gray and white subway tiles - all with a restrained and minimal sensibility.
The owners bought the 15-acre parcel with the intention of building a 4000 square foot main house and a 900 square foot guest cottage, but decided to build the guest cottage first so as to shorten the timeline before they could start enjoying their property. This created an interesting design challenge: to master plan the entire site and build the infrastructure for the whole property. This involved determining the best site for the (yet non-existent) main house and then determining a secondary site suitable for the guest cottage and then putting in a driveway, electric service, a well, a buried 1000 gallon propane tank and generator to serve both buildings. Careful attention was paid to keeping the guest cottage subordinate to the main house. Lasers were used to ensure the front door of the guest cottage was lower than that of the main house and to determine how to put parking behind a rock outcropping so as to hide cars from view. A complex soil plan was implemented to use excess soil produced by the septic field to fill in a swale near the guest cottage so as to avoid costly carting of soil off the property.
As for the cottage itself, code requires that an "detached accessory dwelling" be no bigger than 900 square feet. But since the family of four planned on living in the guest cottage for as long as two years before the main house was done, there was an importance to create a the greatest feeling of space possible. Though only on a 30-foot square footprint, the steep roof creates a 25-foot cathedral ceiling that gives a feeling of vastness. An austere front facade was designed for maximum privacy from the main house and huge bays of windows facing the back give the house an openness and airiness that is not expected as you walk through the solid ash front door. To make the space seem bigger and brighter, interiors are largely monochromatic, with white walls, trim, tile and cabinetry and a whitewashed oak floor. Exposed wood collar ties, an ash front door and a leather bench make for the subtlest splashes of color in the white space.