Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cottage #3 - An Alternative Approach

Dear Cottage Friends,

Have you ever experienced a time when you're ready to pull the trigger on something you've planned for months, only to find you have no peace about your decision?  

That's where Captain and I were at the end of June as we were preparing to move forward with the building of our little red cottage -- Cottage #3.

To date I've shown you the preliminary plans for Cottage #1 and Cottage #2, and I showed you the rendering of Cottage #3 in my post Designing Our New Cottage

Cottage #3 Rendering

Today I'll give you a full look at Cottage #3-- the plan we were all set to go with until a couple of weeks ago -- and tell you why we changed our mind. 

Cottage #3
This cottage is a 1, 197 SF single level, 3 bedroom 1 -1/2 bath manufactured home. 

Wait.  Did you just read manufactured home?  

Yes, you did.  That was our "alternative approach".

To be clear, this is not a delivered off-the-lot manufactured home.  It's a custom designed manufactured home on a permanent foundation.

While house hunting last year we had toured several manufactured homes in our price range that were very nice.  In fact, they were nicer and often larger than some stick built homes priced much higher. 

Still, I had my heart set on a cottage.  It's been my life long dream. A manufactured home, while nice and affordable, was. . .well, it just wasn't what I envisioned.  And so we kept looking at homes for sale that fit into the cottage category in our price range.  And they all needed work.  Lots of work.  Which equates to spending lots of cash to renovate. 

A new manufactured home typically costs about 1/3 less than a stick built to construct.  I can tell you a lot about them: the many differences, the positives, the negatives, how because of governmental standards they're often built better than conventional homes, etc.  I'll save that for another time, though.  

We talked to Kit Homebuilders West and toured their manufacturing plant.  The quality was right, the price was right, but could we have their MH built our way to make it look like a cottage?   Could Kit build a custom home for us?  They said, "Sure, we can do that, as long as you stay within the manufactured plan's footprint."  So, Captain put on his architect hat and began working to make one of their models look like a "Nancy cottage".  


Many consumers complain that manufactured homes look like mobile homes.  One reason they do is because the roof pitch is so low.  The typical MH has a 3/12 pitch.  Captain raised the roof pitch on the manufactured home to 5/12.  He also bumped out the living room 2', added windows with grids, and added a 10' dormer on the east side.  All these tweaks kept the MH from looking like a rectangular box.

The east dormer was part of our plan to add a small front porch after the home was delivered and set up on our lot.

We specified a full glass entry door.

A local carpenter would make and install a screen door with a touch of gingerbread.

A flower box under the kitchen window added to the cottage look. To the far right is Captain's studio.

The back of the cottage has an outside entrance to his studio.

Windows on the west side of the house left to right: Master Bedroom, Bath, My Studio, Living Room


The front door enters into a foyer with the kitchen on the left and guest bath, laundry and Captain's studio on the right.

The eat-in kitchen is almost identical to the Cottage #2 kitchen, except instead of an exterior door to the right of the sink there is room for a pantry cupboard, and there are two windows over the sink instead of three.  The south window is larger, bringing more natural light into the room.

Even though Captain did a great job of designing within the constraints of the model's footprint, the fact remains that there are only so many options available in a manufactured home, even with upgrades.  For example, Kit offers beautiful wood cabinets, but none in white or other colors.   I knew I'd have to be very creative in the kitchen if I wanted something different.

My concept for this kitchen was old world, and I wanted a mix of painted and wood pieces.  The blue and white trunk you see in the photo was the inspiration for the cabinet colors.  I planned to use the MH standard cabinetry with my own hardware to create the hutch for the range and sink cabinets, but I would have to paint the cabinets after installation, as the home comes with the kitchen complete.  The rest of the kitchen storage would come by way of a free-standing pantry with chicken wire doors and a French cupboard.  I also planned to have beadboard on the hutch back and furniture "feet" installed by a carpenter to give the installed cabinetry a free-standing look.  The finishing touches were a skirt for the sink, a seeded glass mini pendant over the farm sink (the farm sink would be installed by a local plumber), a country french dining set (I already own a table similar to the one in the photo that I can paint, so I'd only need to buy the chairs), and a not-too-fancy chandelier.  

A humorous note here about my "not-too-fancy" chandelier choice. Captain took one look and it and said, "Wow.  You're going fancy." Hmmm, he seeminly doesn't spend much time looking at the French inspired kitchens on the internet.  If he did he'd understand how understated that chandelier really is.  But I digress.

The kitchen is open to the living room.  Again, very similar to Cottage #2 except there's no pesky entry door opening into the room.  Much better.  The door to my studio is at an angle to add interest and soften the living room/hallway intersection.  I had planned to use a french door there. 

The bath has a walk-in shower, and the master bedroom has a large closet separated for his and hers.

We debated over the Sherwin Williams exterior paint colors and finally decided to go with Red Barn for the siding

Pure White for the trim.

What I like about this plan:
  • Captain has a studio in the house
  • The front door opens into a foyer
  • Front porch
  • Windows over kitchen sink
  • Larger south window in kitchen
  • Old world kitchen
  • Powder room
  • Plenty of closets

What I don't like about this plan:

  • No fireplace.  
  • The work involved in painting the kitchen cabinets
  • Because it's a manufactured home the finishing materials  and colors are limited, thus I wouldn't have hardwood floors unless we installed them later.
  • Cathedral ceilings 

By the time we got through the entire design process we found we were almost to the cost of the stick built plans.  Essentially, we were over-building a MH home.  We weren't even sure it would appraise at the cost to build it.  I'll be honest. . .it was depressing. This was supposed to be a happy event, but it wasn't. 

We knew we had to pull back.

For two days we talked and prayed and listened for God's direction. On the third day we sat down together and Captain interviewed me just as he would an architectural client.  He began with the question, "You wake up in your new cottage.  Now walk me through your day. . .what do you do next?"

I'll share my answer with you and where it took us in our cottage plans later this week.

I like to party at these lovely blogs:

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Where Bloggers Create 2014

Where Bloggers Create

Today I'm joining the very talented Karen at My Desert Cottage for her 6th Annual Where Bloggers Create blog party.  This is my first time at Where Bloggers Create, so I'm pretty excited.  

My current creative space is the second bedroom of an apartment where we are living until our permanent home is built.  (We are in the design/bidding phase right now.)

I feel very blessed to work in this large, bright room.  In the middle of the room is a vintage dining table that I bought for $50 at a local shop.  The veneer top was pretty beat up when I found it, but the rest of the table was in great shape and sturdy.  After some work on the top, white paint and a little distressing, it now functions very well as a multi-purpose table.  My portable sewing machine is easily removed to make room for fabric cutting or crafting.  

Currently I'm using the table to work on our new home's interior design.  It's a great place to spread out.

The other work surface in my room is a drop leaf vintage table. Here I write, blog and do the usual computer-related work.  It's a very eclectic space.

From here I have a view of the beautiful mountains and a funky old wagon which appears in the photo as a silhouette.

In front of the window is a deep ledge.  Here I display cobalt blue bottles and jars.  I like the way the light plays on them throughout the day.

Farther down on the ledge I've made room for family photos.  This chippy upside down harp mirror frame is one of my very favorite vintage pieces.  I dug it out of an antique warehouse, way in the back of the building, just as it is.  All I did was remove the cobwebs and dirt. 

The ledge also serves as a place for my CD stereo player and craft/sewing organization.

All my containers have been purchased at thrift shops and yard sales.   

I found the little jar of old buttons for 25 cents.  Vintage tins contain sewing supplies, and the little patriotic basket holds fabric scraps.  I rarely throw away any scraps; seems I always find a use for even the tiniest pieces.

My husband is a professional artist, so I never lack beautiful artwork for my walls.

This is a print of a painting he did in San Jan Capistrano.  The original painting was sold.

An old glass front cupboard found at a yard sale keeps my books at hand.

I painted the outside, and left some wallpaper layers on the inside for fun.  

Another glass front piece is home to my quilting fabric and other necessities.

A few vintage pretties rest on top.

Wire cubes house baskets filled with odds and ends, home design binders and CD albums.

Other goods are stored in two vintage suitcases and a woven box with leather lid and handles.

So, there you have it. . .this is where I create.  I hope next year I'll be giving you a tour of my creative space in our new home.

Thanks for stopping by, and do check out the other fabulous creative spaces at Karen's blog. You'll be so inspired.