Down­siz­ing Done Right

Mov­ing into a smaller home frees you from the cost and time com­mit­ment that comes with more square footage. Here’s how one cou­ple made down­siz­ing work for them.

Timber Home Living - - Contents - PHO­TOS & IL­LUS­TRA­TIONS COUR­TESY OF NEW EN­ERGY WORKS

It can hap­pen for a num­ber of rea­sons. Per­haps all the kids have left home, you can see re­tire­ment on the hori­zon or your ex­ist­ing home re­quires more main­te­nance than you can han­dle (or care to take on). Or maybe you’re just ready to live a sim­pler life with less ex­penses and less, well, stuff. No mat­ter the rea­son, down­siz­ing makes sense for a grow­ing num­ber of home­own­ers — and can sat­isfy a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent needs.

“A lot of our pop­u­la­tion to­day is what we call ‘move-down home­own­ers,’” says Jonathan Or­pin, founder and owner of New En­ergy Works that has of­fices in both Farm­ing­ton, New York, and Port­land, Ore­gon. “These are peo­ple who want to sim­plify, but they still want qual­ity. For this type of client, de­sign­ing a small yet highly-crafted and high-per­form­ing home can be a great ap­proach.”

And that’s ex­actly what Jonathan did for Ro­cio and Phil Lundy who wanted to build a “small but per­fect” tim­ber home in the Wil­lamette River Val­ley of Ore­gon. The Lundy’s came to New En­ergy Works with a limited bud­get, but with a de­sire to cre­ate a sim­ple home that

would re­quire very lit­tle en­ergy in­put while ad­her­ing to the high­est build­ing stan­dards. They were also will­ing to get their hands dirty and put a lit­tle sweat eq­uity into the build, a fact that Jonathan says helped a lot when stick­ing to the bud­get.

DOWNSIZED DE­SIGN

“Like most peo­ple in the home-de­sign world, I’ve closely fol­lowed the tiny house move­ment,” says Jonathan. “These are tightly de­signed and crafted homes of 200 to 400 square feet, of­ten built on a chas­sis and wheels. Cool idea, but hard to live in for most, I’d reckon.”

For this home, Jonathan started a bit big­ger at 1,000 square feet — enough room for a com­fort­able com­mon area, a cou­ple of away rooms for sleep and work, two full bath­rooms, a mud­room and pantry. To make the space feel larger, they also in­cor­po­rated in­te­rior par­ti­tions, so the walls and ceil­ing for all of the in­te­rior rooms end at the 8-foot mark even though the peaked ceil­ing for the home goes much higher. (See di­a­gram above.) “The tim­bers go all the way back, mak­ing the house feel much big­ger than it re­ally is,” Jonathan ex­plains.

The con­tem­po­rary and ef­fi­cient style of the 1,140-square-foot de­sign is a nod to the sim­ple home styles of the 1960s. “One of the great un­sung he­roes of Amer­i­can ar­chi­tec­ture is the clas­sic ranch house,” says Jonathan. “Its ef­fi­cient floor plan was the in­spi­ra­tion here. It’s pure and sim­ple, with a dy­namic in­te­rior vol­ume.”

The house it­self isn’t tremen­dously dif­fer­ent than a stan­dard dou­ble wide, he adds, but its fin­ish­ing de­tails and high­per­for­mance ma­te­ri­als are what sets it apart. A long-life metal roof, wood sid­ing, re­claimed floors and triple-paned glass win­dows will keep the home in good shape for years to come, elim­i­nat­ing the need for much main­te­nance and up­keep. Hand­made cab­i­nets and re­claimed maple coun­ter­tops in the kitchen are just a few ex­am­ples of the qual­ity de­tails you can find in­side the home, bring­ing the high level of crafts­man­ship the home­own­ers were look­ing for.

“Their fam­ily is nearby, so they didn’t need a lot of ex­tra space,” says Jonathan. “In­stead, they spent their money on bet­ter win­dows, more in­su­la­tion, greater craft in en­ergy de­tail­ing, in­te­rior trim and fin­ishes.”

De­signed by Jonathan Or­pin and the team at New En­ergy Works, this sim­ple plan makes the most of its 1,140 square feet. The Or­geon home fea­tures an open liv­ing/eat­ing area, two spare bed­rooms for work and sleep, two bath­rooms and a mud­room. Over­sized...

To bring in ex­tra light, the New En­ergy Works team in­cor­po­rated a ridge sky­light that runs along the roofline. Par­ti­tioned walls cre­ate pri­vacy while still al­low­ing for over­head beams through­out the home.

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