In Pursuit of the Perfect Little House
I’m always looking for contemporary plans with a sense of history; that is, deft designs for modern living that also have warmth and character. Well, Eureka! I’m very excited about the regionally-inspired designs by Peter Brachvogel and Stella Carosso for their Perfect Little House Company. These plans are the newest additions to our Exclusive Studio Collection. For example, Plan 479-6, the Tower Studio,
is actually a 262 square -foot “micro cottage” with a small kitchen/living/sleeping area and bathroom
over a compact one car garage. I think it’s an ideal home office/retreat. With its simple square shape, tapering shingled walls, pyramid roof, and band of windows at the top it recalls early 20th century forest fire lookouts across the rural West, from Tumac Mountain Lookout
near Washington’s Mt. Ranier (Bob Baldwin photo, above) to
California’s Gardner Lookout on Mt. Tamalpais (courtesy California State Parks). What could be more fitting for a writer’s retreat than a lookout, anyway – isn’t that right, Virginia Woolf? I’ll take it!
Classic early 20th century cottages, bungalows, and farmhouses — which were themselves usually built from stock plans — are important reference points for Peter and Stella. Their 780 square-foot Willow, Plan 479-9,
wraps a generous porch around a compact 1 bedroom 1.5 bath layout to make the house feel larger than it is. A starter home with architectural character — suitable for an infill lot in an older neighborhood or as a mountain or lakeside cabin — this plan
could easily be expanded at the stairway as the family grows and budgets allow. Upstairs, windows on all four sides
flood the bedroom and bathroom with daylight. Now compare this modern design to the 1908 Wietzel House from Tukwila, WA, shown below,
(photo courtesy Nickel Bros. House Moving). The old bracketed eaves, L-shaped porch, and big gable (not necessarily the weedy front yard) are signature features of many old cottages and farmhouses. Add a contemporary looking standing seam metal roof and crisp shingled corners and some color — not to mention a new open floor plan — and there you are: another Perfect Little House. Or compare the Weitzel house to The Cove, Plan 479-2 – shown below.
It’s even closer in appearance — as if the older house has simply been remodeled. In the new plan
the garage is on an alley at the rear.
On a somewhat larger scale, the Perfect Little House Company’s 1,914 square-foot, 3 bedroom 2.5 bath Kingfisher, Plan 479-4
offers larger gathering spaces and cozy nooks for reading and relaxing,
and on the second floor each bedroom is designed as a large window bay
for views across the treetops. Note the free-flowing circulation pattern — you can walk through the bathroom to the closet and back through the master bedroom — which adds a sense of spaciousness.
The trellis, shed dormers, and simple gable (shown above in the rear elevation of Plan 474-4) echo features of early Craftsman style houses, like this example
in Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman magazine (courtesy Arts and Crafts Homes magazine).
Peter and Stella earned their architecture degrees from the University of Michigan and recently founded the Perfect Little House Company as an offshoot of their firm, BC & J Architects. Peter has extensive town planning experience with emphasis on project management and building technology, and teaches architecture at the University of Washington. Their Cottages on the Green at Roche Harbor,
shown here, create a strong sense of place: it’s a new community that feels as though it has always been there. Welcome to our neighborhood, Peter and Stella!