Style Guide: Cottage

A term that originated from the Middle Ages, a "cottage" referred to the dwellings of agricultural workers, or cotters, and their friends a family.  Cottages were smaller peasant units, usually on the property of larger plantations or estates.  Today, cottages most often refer to buildings used as second homes or weekend getaways for city dwellers.  The architectural style aspects of cottages were inspired by medieval styles of the English countryside and became popular with American architects in the 1920s and 1930s.

Although not required characteristics, the common features of a cottage style home may include...
  • Steep roof pitches, often gable or gambrel with cross gables
  • Arched doors
  • Casement windows with small panes
  • Brick, stone, stucco, or natural shake siding
The look of a cottage can vary greatly, since a variety of styles can fit into the "cottage" category.  The local vernacular often determines which materials and style features are emphasized, so location can have a look of it's own:

1.  Nantucket: Rustic meets elegant in Nantucket style cottages.  Utilizing mostly natural architectural elements on their exterior, their natural colors of greys, whites and blues make a striking statement against the bright blue sky, lush green landscape and white-capped waters of the surrounding ocean.




2.  The South:  The image that the words "Southern cottage" calls to mind is one of a wrap-around or double stacked porch.  Often called Low-country, a major influence on this this style is the hot and humid weather of the Carolinas and deep South.  These cottages often have a raised first floor to accommodate floodwaters and to allow breezes to circulate throughout the home.  Architectural elements like louvered shutters and metal roofs are also indicative of this style.
Our low country cottage design, the Laurel

3.  Michigan:  For us Michiganders, a cottage usually is a summer residence up north near or on a lake.    This is a style for which we here at Visbeen are very familiar, since it is a good portion of our custom residential business.  We combine a variety of styles to create our Michigan cottages, from Shingle and Victorian, to Arts and Crafts and Bungalow.

Here are a few products that we often use in cottage-style residences...

Roofing:  GAF Roofing has a great product called Camelot II Lifetime Designer Shingles, which add a luxury look to a cottage style residence for only pennies-a-day more than standard architectural shingles.

Retractable Screens:  Nothing ruins a summer night like mesquites here in Michigan.  We would all love to sit on open porches overlooking a sunset on the water, but sometimes that is not possible.  And then there are some evening that are perfect for it.  Great solution for this debacle? Retractable screens.  They turn an open porch into an enclosed screened porch in moments.  Companies like Phantom Screens make the top of the line in retractable screen products.
Kearney Hill has a great example of Phantom Screens in use.

Movable glass doors:  On that same note, movable glass doors are another great way of turning a cottage into an open air oasis.  A company called Solar Innovations makes high-quality folding glass walls at a fraction of the cost of some of the other big name companies making similar products.


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