Design Considerations for Small Cabins & Cottages
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Design Considerations for Small Cabins & Cottages

While the small-house movement represents just a slice of the real estate market, popularity is on the rise. Small cottages and cabins offer housing that is more affordable to acquire, easier to maintain, and more environmentally sustainable. Here, some aspects of small-house design worth considering:

Photography by Roger Wade

The Simple Life


In addition to costing less (construction materials, labor, taxes, heating, maintenance, repair …), small houses may encourage a less cluttered environment and simpler lifestyle.


Small houses typically emphasize function over size, utilize dual-purpose features and furnishings, and incorporate technological advances of space-saving equipment and appliances.


Compact Footprint

Vertical space optimization, architecturally and with regards to storage solutions, is a common feature of small houses. Relative to main-floor construction costs, a full basement foundation and second story are inexpensive ways to increase living space within a compact footprint.

Outdoor Living Spaces

Like Rebbecca Abair’s cottage design, porches, decks and patios help a small house to live larger. The outdoor living season can be extended with the use of screening, an outdoor fireplace or a simple fire pit.


Natural Landscaping

Landscaping is best kept natural, ideally incorporating plantings that are native to the region, so that the home blends with the environment, softening the transition between natural surroundings and dwelling.


Reclaimed Materials

Reclaimed materials go a long way in a small house. “Architectural salvage is one of my passions,” says Rebbecca. “I try to use as many recycled materials and fixtures that I can find to fit the space.” She says that in addition to the economical reward of using reclaimed materials, there is the bonus of knowing that a home is unique and special, something that no one else will ever have.


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