A large, traditional-style country house may feel gracious, but it can translate into a rather formal, even daunting, aesthetic. Bringing a cottage sensibility to the design will make for a more welcoming, relaxed environment.
Achieving this kind of balance was a central concern of the owners when they asked architect Cathy Osika and interior designer Susan Fredman to create their 557m² house. The predominant look was to reflect the old-world charm of a cottage-style, white weatherboard house in Michigan, mitigated by an intimate air. The private setting, ringed with mature trees and accessed by a long drive, created an appropriate backdrop for a cottage-like appeal, says Osika.
"To introduce this feeling, we needed to temper the presence of the house. The layout helps ensure the considerable volume is not visible all at once. Because the garage is to one side and the other areas range back and down from the front, all you see at first are the two gables and the connecting ridge.
"A band across the front facade further breaks down the visual mass, and other detailing helped, too."
The front entry porch contrasts solid columns with a soft, curving roof line. Where a strictly formal residence would have displayed brackets under the eaves, here Osika added less formal louvres. Copper detailing and stonework on the bay windows also soften the facade.
"Windows were an essential part of the design balance," says Osika. "A mix of casement and double-hung elements gives the impression that the house was built over time much like a real cottage. The small oval window by the front door contributes to this whimsical appearance."
Interior detailing strikes a similar balance between regal and rustic. For example, the entry hall has a prominent staircase, but detail on the newels is restrained, and stringers are simple. Most crown mouldings are subtle and panelling is transitional.