Project Description

Located in rural Vermont, this small house was made as a retreat for the owner, her family and close friends to use throughout the year.  It is a place for people to come relax, have fun doing outdoor activities, day-dream, and become refreshed and inspired. 

The house benefits from a spectacular site, featuring an expansive view to the east across a working dairy farm and the Connecticut River valley, and then beyond to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  

The house itself features a large, open common room for living, dining and cooking, giving it a sense of ample space, despite its small size.  There are two (2) small bedrooms upstairs, plus a study downstairs that can serve as an additional bedroom.  There is a full bathroom downstairs and a half-bath upstairs.  A large deck allows people to fully enjoy the spectacular view.  

Highlights

  • The narrow floor plan (the house is only 20 feet wide) allows for uniform daylighting and a bright, cheerful interior, plus terrific views and a strong sense of connection to the outdoors.  Windows and exterior glass doors were very carefully located, sized and proportioned to accomplish this without needing too much total window area, which would be a thermal liability and irresponsible in this cold climate. 
  • The super-insulated, super-tight shell (roof & exterior walls), consisting of structural insulated panels (SIPs) and closed-cell foam insulation, conserves energy and enhances comfort.  Thanks to this high-quality shell, the Danish wood stove, if used continuously, easily heats the house by itself, even on the coldest days.
  • The heating system consists of a super-high-efficiency condensing boiler and hydronic distribution.  This is supplemented with an energy recovery ventilator (ERV), further improving energy-efficiency and safeguarding good indoor air quality. 
  • The exterior bevel siding is Atlantic white cedar, sustainably harvested from trees that fell during a recent hurricane.  This naturally rot-resistant siding is installed on a rainscreen system to further protect against deterioration and ensure its longevity.
  • The dual-function ‘tilt-turn’ European-style windows allow for operating flexibility, admitting varying amounts of fresh air while keeping the rain out. 
  • A custom-made sliding door, fitted with seals & brushes, allows the mudroom to function as an airlock, preventing the loss of warm air when the front door is opened.  Another sliding door at the base of the stair allows the second floor to be isolated from the rest of the house and not heated, to conserve energy when only one or two people might be there in the winter.
  • The house features many products and materials sourced from and/or made in Vermont and the region of northern New England and Québec, such as red maple (flooring), Vermont Barre granite (hearth and flooring), and Fireslate (countertops).
  • Other useful features include a recessed entryway with a ledge for placing packages, grocery bags, etc. when one needs his/her hands to unlock and open the front door.
  • Another house (larger than the new one, in fact) previously existed on the site.  In keeping with the ‘deep-green’ principals guiding this project, this early pre-fabricated structure was completely deconstructed for re-erection at another location, rather than being discarded into a landfill.