by Robin Boucher
Britt and I built our small house (the left one in the attached image) in 1983 while he attended Virginia Tech to study forestry and I taught art. Everyone thought we were crazy building such a small space, but it was perfect for us. It is 20 x 22 with a full walk-out basement, an open mail level and a 22 x 11 loft. We built as sustainably as possible, recycling, using local products, not overdoing, and building well. In 1993, we built the art studio (24 x 30) so I could work at home. Again, everyone thought we were nuts, this time for building another small house on our land. I didn’t want to work in my house and also I didn’t want to destroy the lovely landscape by building something that required heavy machinery in the woods. Over the years we have found that people who visit come from two camps…they either ask us right away if we plan to connect the buildings, or they think it is great just the way it is.
About 5 years ago, when our children needed more space (as did their parents), we turned the studio into the “day house” relegating my art-making space into an 11 x 14 loft at the top of the spiral stairs in the studio and turning the downstairs into our daytime living space. Today the studio (Day House which is on the right in the photos) contains our living, dining, kitchen, pantry, my mini studio and bathroom. The Night House contains our bedrooms, a bathroom and in the basement my husband’s office and our laundry room.
When people ask how it is walking outside to our bedrooms (especially in rain or snow) I jokingly call it “Camp Boucher” where we are on vacation all year long. The nice thing about our design is the flexibility of space. As our space needs change we have been able to adapt every room to a new function (we removed the kitchen from the original house when we turned that space into a master bedroom…it was easy because it was rustic to begin with). The hard part about itis that the banks and mortgage companies hate it because there are no comparables and it is just plain different. We have avoided adding on and tried to make do with what we have. And it is a lovely place.