Perfect Little Houses by Brachvogel and Carosso

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Splayed Wings of the Perfect Little House

Modern Traditional Home Design by Peter Brachvogel, AIA and Stella Carosso
Modern Traditional Home Design by Peter Brachvogel, AIA and Stella Carosso. Image courtesy Houseplans.com. Used with permission (cropped)

What makes a perfect little house? Let's find out from the Perfect Little House Company.

Small homes don't have to look like ugly boxes. The house you see here is called Back Bay House—a custom design located in one of the many maritime settings in and around Seattle, Washington. With offices on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, the husband and wife team of Peter Brachvogel, AIA, and Stella Carosso have been creating interesting, eco-friendly structures like this one since 1990. When America's housing boom went bust in 2009, they didn't close their shop—they expanded. The firm they founded, BC&J Architecture, has designed and built some "perfect" little homes throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The Perfect Little House Company:

The declining economy opened the way for an offshoot business Brachvogel and Carosso called The Perfect Little House Company. Their aim was to meet the growing need for smaller, more affordable homes. How did they do it? In part, by repackaging their custom designs into stock plans and offering the designs to the general public—at a much lower cost than the custom plans. The stock plans of The Perfect Little House Company are offered for sale by Housplans.com.

Brachvogel and Carosso renamed the Back Bay House and called it The Maple Perfect Little House. The architectural team has thought about what people do in a home and how they spend their time. The Maple design offers separate living spaces based on function—activity areas like sleeping and cooking are separated, but not in the vertical way that Samuel Flores Flores does with Casa Ocean Park. The Maple floor plan has two wings of separation—two separate houses really. The design fits the architects' commitment to organic architecture, much like Frank Lloyd Wright did with his more elaborate design for Wingspread.

Source: The Perfect Little House Company, Services, BC&J website [accessed April 9, 2015]

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The Maple Floor Plan

The Maple floor plan divides activities with two wings. Designed by BC&J in Washington
The Maple floor plan divides activities with two wings. Designed by BC&J in Washington. Image courtesy Houseplans.com. Used with permission.

One wing of the house, called the "evening" wing, has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a laundry area. The other "daytime" wing has the kitchen, eating area, and living space. The wings are angled—splayed like the wings of a bird—and connected by an outdoor deck and indoor entryway.

The tower rises above the nighttime wing as a second story lookout. Total area including the tower is 1,848 square feet. The tower, a 12 ½ foot square with surrounding windows, is one of those pleasing spaces of dubious use. If it's to be a home office or playroom, it's in the wrong "wing" of the house. If it's to be a guest room or master bedroom, it seems too removed and opulent. The design seems to be a variation of The Tower Studio or The Alder Tower, other plans from the architects' Perfect Little House Collection. The tower may work better as a small, stand-alone structure than as another story on the sleek design of The Maple.

To learn more and purchase the plans for this home, visit Houseplans.com.

Source: Plan #479-11, Plan Description, Specs, and Features, Houseplans.com [accessed April 9, 2015]

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Photos of The Maple and More About That Tower

Interior Kitchen, Bedroom, and Side View of Tower in a design by BC&J of Washington
Interior Kitchen, Bedroom, and Side View of Tower in a design by BC&J of Washington. Individual images courtesy Houseplans.com, combined by Jackie Craven

The cooking and dining area in The Maple is in the back of the house, in an open space that freely flows from a kitchen island down into the living area and outdoors onto the front deck. The open floor plan with large windows throughout is part of the design philosophy of The Perfect Little House Company:

" The design work is culled from a 25 year practice of architecture incorporating light, scale, massing, proportion, sustainable measures and vernacular style into houses which delight the soul and engage a family. "

More About That Tower:

Viewed from the side, the tower seems out of place, with one set of back windows overlooking a roof. The nice thing about stock plans, though, is that you can let your local architect modify them to what makes sense for your own use—maybe the tower should be eliminated, made taller, or be separated from the house altogether. It's your decision when you purchase these plans.

Architects Peter Brachvogel and Stella Carosso have a good sense of the flexibility needed to market their stock house plans. The ideas imbedded in the design of The Maple are original, sustainable, and organic. Some of their small house designs have been chosen by developers to create Perfect Neighborhoods, as Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND or New Urbanism) is an interest and specialty of the pair.

About the Architects:

Stella Carosso earned a Masters in Architecture from the University of Michigan in 1984. Since 1992 she has been a Principal at BC&J Architecture and with The Perfect Little House Company since 2010. See perfectlittlehouse.com.

Peter Brachvogel earned a Bachelor of Arts, Architecture degree from the University of Washington in 1982. In 1984 he earned a M.Arch. in Architecture/Urban Design from the University of Michigan. Upon graduation, Brachvogel held positions in large architectural firms in Seattle, Washington and San Francisco, California until becoming founding principal at BC&J Architecture, Planning and Construction Management in 1990. See BCandJ.com.

Sources: The Perfect Little House Company, Services, BC&J website; Stella Carosso and Peter Brachvogel, LinkedIn [accessed April 9, 2015]