Design Consultation . Santa Monica, California
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A Cottage for Rita
Jackson, PA
July 1991

Rita is the sister of Linda Langraf, another client. This was the first free standing house that Whitehead & Co. designed and built without any outside contracting.

We were working with an incredibly limited budget, but the client knew that she was going to have a fairly simple structure in the end. The program of spaces was brief: a bedroom separate from the main living space, which contained the living room, dining room and kitchen; abathroom with a tub and if possible a space for a guest to sleep on a futon. We hoped to bring the spare sensibility of some of the Greek Revival farmhouses (like the Old Pickering House) in the area to a tiny cottage twenty-five feet square.

The details, the swinging door from the loft into the bedroom and the sliding doors, are from barn building in the area. The oak floor throughout and the pine ceiling above help unify the space even though, by necessity, it is divided. Other than the bathroom, none of the spaces are entirely separated from the others. Because Rita said that her weekend visitors would not need more than visual privacy, we were able to leave the large loft open to the floor below.

Although we enter on center, we made sure there was a clear difference between the public living space and the more private sleeping space. The stair led up to sleeping loft for guests, and it was hidden from the main space by a stepping wall we sheathed with rough sawn hickory boards. As the view from the sleeping loft suggests, it was actually possible to see the four walls of the cottage from most of the spaces.

As with our first project, it was very challenging to try to squeeze the last possible crackle of interest out of a very limited budget. We also enjoyed hiding the more contemporary space within the plainly sheathed, demure volume of the cottage.

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