Little House, Big Bang: microHOUSE (Vermont, USA)

All 430 square feet of this sleek home and art studio are nestled in the heart of the Green Mountain range.

Bristol, Vermont-based studio Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design was approached with a project by a local artist who was seeking something different in the design of a home and studio. Presented with the challenge to be energy efficient while remaining within budget, Herrmann envisioned a home that was “first and foremost a lovely place to be, with all the variety and interest of a much larger home. It had to feel spacious in spite of its size.” What her studio came up with left ESTATENVY floored.

Situated in a rural valley of the Green Mountain range, the architect described the 430-square-foot structure as “unpredictable” and a “shapeshifter.” The home has a different silhouette from every side due to its two cut-out corners and sloped roof. With light grey cedar siding, the home blends seamlessly with its mountainous surroundings. One of the cutouts forms a sheltered patio, where an inviting yellow front door sits.

The bright door opens to an equally bright interior. Functional wood-framed windows on white walls bring daylight and fresh air to the home while providing majestic views on every side. Each designated area has definition and spatial separation. "Like a boat, the house has a designated place for everything in order to maximize space and keep the interior uncluttered," Hermann said. Wall storage units made of birch plywood fabricate sit opposite the entrance and in the kitchen, where white cabinetry and appliances blend in nicely to white concrete countertops for a spacious, minimalist feel.

A table that doubles as a work and eating surface nicely breaks up the kitchen and living space and is situated in front of a large window that perfectly frames picturesque Camel’s Hump Mountain. A light fixture with a candy apple red shade hangs in the center of the space for an interesting splash of color. A loft created by the slanted roof is perched atop a bench seat in the living space and a daybed-made of the same birch plywood as the storage units- serves as sleeping quarters for visitors. The modest bathroom’s entrance that does not face the living area creates separation and privacy. The artist elected to nix a shower in favor of a white tile tub with a matching concrete ledge.

In order to keep the structure from being too crowded, Herrmann built in a full basement to provide additional storage and to house the washer and dryer and other needed mechanical equipment. It is reached by a hatch door that blends into the home’s floor boards made of local maple floors strategically cut short and laid perpendicular to the flow of the home to create the illusion of space.

Hermann’s execution of her own vision and the artists proves that one need not sacrifice interest to achieve functionality and high performance from a limited space. In her words, the structure’s appearance and design is both “the logical and whimsical expression of its contents, its function, and views.”