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The downside of these open plans is rooms that lose their shape and function. To remedy this, Hillbrand and Cornell used a variety of ceiling heights to give rooms shape.
The dining room, for example, has low, 7-foot, 3-inch ceilings that encourage sitting. The kitchen has normal ceiling heights, but the gathering room has high gabled ceilings that make the space feel more inviting for larger groups of people. Even the height of the outdoor pergola over the front entrance was designed to match the 8-foot ceilings in the entry foyer to "imply that you are entering the intimacy of the house even though you're outside," Cornell said. "So you're starting to feel sheltered when you're under that trellis."
A garage that doesn't dominate
The three-car garages that are standard in today's new houses can overwhelm the houses they're built to serve, making it particularly difficult to design a small house with a garage that doesn't dwarf the house. A big attached garage wasn't a priority for these homeowners, so they considered something radical: building a detached garage or no garage at all.
But in a cold-weather state, a detached garage can be resale suicide. So a compromise was struck: A one-car garage that's connected to the house via a covered breezeway.
"They wanted to leave the car behind and enter the home in an unmechanized way," Hillbrand said.
Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376