Thursday, May 21, 2009

Of Journaling, and Storytale Cottages


I've been away from the blog for awhile. However, I've become slightly obsessed with this style of house, the Storybook style or Tudor style cottage. Let me back up a bit in telling of where my current fascination with these little homes came from. It all started when I got the book Style Statement, Live by Your Own Design by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte from inter library loan and started journal ling in response to the questions in the book. I came across the book Style Statement on Artsy Mama's Blog and her journal pages looked so interesting I had to check out the book too. Basically the book is to help you understand your own personal style and get in touch with your authentic self. So the book is designed to help you discover your style statement because,
In a world where authenticity is in short supply, a Style Statement is a tool for genuine and, therefore, more effective expression. From your love to your living room, your talents to your promises, communicating who you are in all you do is very powerful stuff.
Not that I believe I'm not in touch with who I am as a person, but I like to touch base with myself sometimes and think about where I'm going from time to time. In addition, the emphasis on understanding why certain things aesthetically appeals to me and the journaling exercises in the book seemed like fun. Along the way one of the questions asked me to write about my dream house. This of course led to me looking around on line so I could be more precise in describing my dream house. In my hometown of Lawrence, KS I've always loved driving by the little cottages that to me look like the are from a children's book, circa the 1920's or so. There are a number of them and some even resemble this picture which is of plans you could order to build your very own cottage.
What I find so appealing about these homes is that they are whimsical, little places that evoke the magic of Mother Goose illustrations and children's fairy tales for me. In fact what they are architecturally is a Tudor style English cottage, made over for the American home buyer who wants some of the charm of the older European style homes. In fact, cottage style homes have long been one architectural style of home that has long appealed to people in large part because they evoke images of a home that is warm, cozy, simple, comfortable, and romantically evoke a more pastoral slower era. The cottage seems to be a retreat or a refuge from the outside world, and the storybook cottage even more so as it is evoking a time that existed primarily in childhood imaginings. I found a lovely book all about modern cottages called The New Cottage Home by Jim Tolpin. He defines the cottage house as having most if not all for the following features,
A modest sized (under 2,000 sq. ft.), a compact footprint that does not necessarily sacrifice a sense of spaciousness in the floor plan, A human scale entry that welcomes you home. An unpretentious and intimate interior--most often centered around a hearth--in which you instantly feel warm, relaxed, and cozy. An exterior that makes good use of indigenous materials. Well-crafted, sometimes quirky architectural details. The use of sashed windows--some diminutive in size--to reinforce the human scale of the building from the outside while giving a sense of security and protection to those on the inside. Thoughtful orientation of the building to the site and sun, relatively informal landscaping, and the presence of exterior "rooms" (porches, patios, decks)--all of which allow the house to respond to, and easily engage, its natural surroundings.
After some thought I realized that my own home, while its not in the storybook style, it has some elements in common with the Tudor Cottage and Toplin's cottage home. First off, its a small house built on a simple floor plan being a basic 1950's Cape Cod style cottage. It is white, with gray shutters and over the front door is little eyebrow overhang to protect visitors from rain. The yard has lots of older trees and our house is up above the street level and even has a vine covered trellis at the start of the front walk. The house being up above street level gives it some privacy as it is set back from the street and can't stare in our front windows, something I used to hate about the town house Dagon I lived in when we were in El Paso. In addition, the kitchen is nice a big, large enough for two cooks and my sewing area in the little dining section. I also love the fact that our floors creak when you walk and that the attic space is panelled in knotty pine by a previous owner. Since the bathroom was made larger it too works better. I used to think that my dream house was a big Victorian home, or a Queen Anne style house, all hardwood floors, lots of woodwork, and high ceilings. That house would be too large for me and my husband and our smaller home works for us quite well as all the main rooms are on one floor. Aside from wanting a bit more closet space and to complete some needed home repairs/decorating tasks, our cottage is pretty close to my dream realized.

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