Striking Angular Cottage in Connecticut

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July 28, 2010

What happens when the guest house becomes home? Retired couple Suzanne and Brooks Kelley found out when a pair of brainy New Haven architects breathed new architectural life into the property they’ve inhabited for over thirty years.

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  Suzanne and Brooks Kelley at the back of their 1,100-square-foot guest cottage.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Suzanne and Brooks Kelley at the back of their 1,100-square-foot guest cottage.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Sheets of unframed glass fill the spaces between the building’s operable windows and the sloping eave of the roof, giving the house, as architect Alan Organschi puts it, “the feel of coming apart at the seams—of surfaces unhinged.”  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Sheets of unframed glass fill the spaces between the building’s operable windows and the sloping eave of the roof, giving the house, as architect Alan Organschi puts it, “the feel of coming apart at the seams—of surfaces unhinged.”

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  The deck, fashioned from ipe, was built around one of the property’s many granite outcroppings. An earthen roof was planted with the same varieties of sedum that were added to the front of the cottage.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The deck, fashioned from ipe, was built around one of the property’s many granite outcroppings. An earthen roof was planted with the same varieties of sedum that were added to the front of the cottage.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Large sliding windows retract at the corner, opening the living area onto a lawn overlooking Long Island Sound.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Large sliding windows retract at the corner, opening the living area onto a lawn overlooking Long Island Sound.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  The floors, walls, and ceilings are coated in FSC-Certified laminated bleached bamboo.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The floors, walls, and ceilings are coated in FSC-Certified laminated bleached bamboo.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Working with project architect Kyle Bradley, Gray and Organschi started with the simplest of designs—a shed-type structure with a steeply canted single-pitch roof—and, as Organschi puts it, “started blowing it open and filling it with large areas of glass.”  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Working with project architect Kyle Bradley, Gray and Organschi started with the simplest of designs—a shed-type structure with a steeply canted single-pitch roof—and, as Organschi puts it, “started blowing it open and filling it with large areas of glass.”

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  The bright, reflective surface amplifies natural light and bathes the interior in a warm glow even when the New England sun isn’t cooperating.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The bright, reflective surface amplifies natural light and bathes the interior in a warm glow even when the New England sun isn’t cooperating.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  A lofted sleeping space furnished with a king size Design Within Reach American Modern bed was made possible when the architects raised the ceiling to create a triangular skylight. The move carved out enough headroom to make the second-floor space usable, while still keeping the cottage in compliance with strict local zoning rules for “accessory” buildings.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    A lofted sleeping space furnished with a king size Design Within Reach American Modern bed was made possible when the architects raised the ceiling to create a triangular skylight. The move carved out enough headroom to make the second-floor space usable, while still keeping the cottage in compliance with strict local zoning rules for “accessory” buildings.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Suzanne’s bridge and book clubs meet around the dining table in the cottage instead of in the larger house, whose open layout makes such gatherings problematic. “There was no place where I could seal us off,” Suzanne says. “So now I use the cottage for game playing, and we can enjoy ourselves and know that we’re not inconveniencing Brooks.”  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Suzanne’s bridge and book clubs meet around the dining table in the cottage instead of in the larger house, whose open layout makes such gatherings problematic. “There was no place where I could seal us off,” Suzanne says. “So now I use the cottage for game playing, and we can enjoy ourselves and know that we’re not inconveniencing Brooks.”

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  The Kelleys furnished the cottage with help from Suzanne’s daughter Betsy Burbank of Betsy Burbank Interiors. Classic modernist icons, such as a Saarinen Womb chair for Knoll, a Herman Miller Eames lounge chair, and an Eileen Grey E1027 side table look at home alongside present-day pieces such as an Encore sofa (which handily folds down into a sleeping surface) from Room & Board and a Doka rug designed and produced by Stephanie Odegard. The Wohlert pendant lights from Louis Poulsen were designed by Vilhelm Wohlert in 1959, but grouped as such, they appear distinctly contemporary.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The Kelleys furnished the cottage with help from Suzanne’s daughter Betsy Burbank of Betsy Burbank Interiors. Classic modernist icons, such as a Saarinen Womb chair for Knoll, a Herman Miller Eames lounge chair, and an Eileen Grey E1027 side table look at home alongside present-day pieces such as an Encore sofa (which handily folds down into a sleeping surface) from Room & Board and a Doka rug designed and produced by Stephanie Odegard. The Wohlert pendant lights from Louis Poulsen were designed by Vilhelm Wohlert in 1959, but grouped as such, they appear distinctly contemporary.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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