Small Modern Cabins and Veneer Stone

More from Mies

Mies van der Rohe’s famous phrase “Less is More” described his method of reducing a design to essential elements like glass, steel, simple forms, and strict proportions. It was a way of concentrating on the shaping of functional spaces without being distracted by extraneous details. It’s an approach that’s neatly illustrated in some of our newest home designs, like the one bedroom, 860 square-foot  Cocoon Cottage Plan 517-1, by architect Jonathan Feldman, which is part of our Exclusive Studio Collection.

The layout is simplicity itself: three splayed Us  — like small stages — slide against each other and angle toward exterior openings for carport, living area, and bedroom.The bathroom is at the rear, in the most enclosed part of the bedroom U.

The bedroom illustrates how each section orients toward an opening or view — in this case to a small patio and rolling hills. The kitchen/dining/living space

at the center feels spacious despite its small size because it is treated as a frame, not just a box to fill. One functional area borrows space from the other and walls have double functions, becoming a built-in daybed over the large storage drawer in one corner and a rolling barn door — more of a moving wall than a door — across the opening to the laundry/pantry in the other. An understated palette of concrete, wood, and glass continues into the bathroom,

enhancing the uncluttered atmosphere and thus the feeling of spaciousness. There’s also a rhythm to the design, with the master bedroom opening to the private side of the cottage and the kitchen/dining/living space to the public or entry side. Windows on two sides of each space provide balanced light. It’s a modern vacation cabin that’s designed to complement nature.

Another Exclusive Studio design, the 950 square-foot Wavewatcher Plan 479-7 by architects Peter Brachvogel and Stella Carosso, takes a more rustic approach but achieves similar ends.

Deck, window bays, and shed dormer animate what is a simple gable-roofed box — like a seaside  chalet. An open plan and doors to the wrap-around deck

on two sides make the bottom floor feel expansive. Upstairs the simplest details,

a window bay for each bedroom and the long shed dormer enclosing the window seat/dressing area (treated as a balcony overlooking the living area), transform an ordinary box into Vacationland.

Both houses show “escape artists” at work: they pull architecture out of a hat.

Trendwatch

Veneer stone continues to improve in quality and has become an artful alternative to the real thing, as I saw at the International Home Builder Show in January. It’s lighter and easier to use and new variations are appearing all the time. El Dorado Stone‘s introductions, like this “dry stack” fireplace example “Ledge Cut 33” in a color called “Birch”

or the more traditional Mediterranean look of their “Cypress Ridge” pattern in a color called “Orchard” are especially eye catching. A close-up view shows

how authentic the product is. Made of portland cement, lightweight aggregates, and mineral oxide colors, it’s cast in molds made from real stones. El Dorado stone has even developed regional variations in some patterns for  different parts of the country.


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