The Right Cottage Fits In Perfectly!


The Right CottageThe Right Cottage Floor Plan

The Right CottageI am so excited to share these images of The Right Cottage! The floor plan of The Right Cottage lays out beautifully –  efficient and functional and takes advantage of the view of my over-grown backyard oasis.

The architecture has just the right blend of modern and traditional elements. My existing +/-1800 sq. ft  home is a 1980’s ranch with vinyl and Hardie Board siding, which does not lend itself to an ultra-modern guest home.  The Right Cottage will fit in perfectly with the existing architecture and with the building site. I love it!

But what about YOUR Right Cottage? Can we translate the concept of The Right Cottage to fit your existing architecture and building site? Of course we can! The architect’s keen eye for scale, context and detail will render beautiful results for all!

– Connie Allegra

I Just Might Become “Queen of Reuse”!

The Right CottageDesigning The Right Cottage has given me a whole new perspective on “reuse”. Because I am bound and determined that this project is going to be affordable (not just because the cost is coming out of my pocket but because I want to prove it can be done), I’m on a quest for “previously loved” building materials and interior items.

I’m no stranger to our local interior consignment shops and furniture auctions; I have been advocating their use to my clients for some time now as a way to find really amazing items CHEAP.  For this project, I have found myself (almost daily) perusing the numerous interior consignment shops looking at furniture, art  and accessories. And I have most definitely hit the jack pot! (Don’t worry; I will share my finds with you in a later post as it all comes together.)

As for building materials, salvage yards (Sarasota Architectural Salvage being my very favorite) are chockfull of salvaged building materials that will work beautifully in The Right Cottage. There are choices for flooring, ceiling or wall surfacing as well as any number of other items to consider.

Such places as Habitat for Humanity Reuse Center  also have a number of items to offer this project for a fraction of the cost of buying new.

Yes, reuse is definitely a “green” strategy that can make your project truly affordable. It does take a keen eye and a fair amount of patience to spot the materials and interior items that will lend themselves to the design aesthetic we’re looking for.  But, hey, The “Queen of Reuse” is getting pretty good at this! And I’m having such fun!

– Connie Allegra

Did I say “Green” and “Affordable” in the Same Sentence?

The Right CottageI doubt that I need to explain why The Right Cottage should be a “Green” project. I think everyone is on board with the goal of lessening our impact on Mother Earth, and I’m sure we’ve all heard and read umpteen ways to save our planet through sustainable building practices.

The trick here is to marry the concept of sustainable design and building methods with the affordability factor. This is turning out to be quite a challenge actually. “Affordable” and “Green” do not naturally go hand-in-hand. It’s definitely do-able, but it’s taking great restraint to not specify the most exciting (and sometimes amazingly costly) green products out there.

I cannot even begin to tell you all the awesome products I have researched for this project and other projects in the past. Unfortunately what I often find is that the really cool products with the Oh-S0-Green label are considerably more expensive than their less Earth-friendly counterparts.

Yes, sometimes the products are offering energy savings and operating cost savings that will pay for themselves in the not-so-distant future. The use of these items are easy to justify because we know they are going to pay for themselves.

The problem (from a financial perspective) comes with the items that don’t offer any long term cost-saving benefits – even though they certainly offer planet-saving benefits. Unfortunately, many people simply do not have the financial luxury of spending twice, three, four…times more for these items than they have to. I’m talking about various flooring, wall covering, tile, solid surfacing materials (for counter tops and such), cabinetry components – the list goes on and on.

There are some really amazing products out there, and I am in the midst of determining which ones are affordable enough to incorporate into The Right Cottage. But rest assured, we will find the right balance between “Green” and “Affordable”.

Stay tuned for the final results!

– Connie Allegra

Envisioning The Right Cottage – Space Requirements

The Right CottageSo what is The Right Cottage going to be like? Well, first of all, the operative words in designing this space are “small”, “affordable”  and “green”. It’s not meant to be a luxury suite for the rich and famous. The idea is to create a sustainable, highly functional, compact space with a unique design aesthetic that doesn’t break my bank account.

Let’s start with the floor plan and space requirements. It’s very simple; a sleeping area, gathering area, closet and bathroom is all that’s needed. Of course, if the city would allow for it, a small kitchen would be extremely useful – although I don’t see that happening at this point. So, how many square feet does one need for this set-up? Slightly more than 300 seems to be the magic number. We’re still tweaking the layout, so I’ll let you know what the final number turns out to be.

Yes, this is most assuredly a “small” space. But remember: small is green. The less resources it takes to build, heat/cool and maintain your living space, the greener it is. And in reality, for the use I have in mind, this is all the square footage required.

– Connie Allegra

The Right Cottage – What Prompted This Journey into Green, Affordable Design?

The Right CottageThe concept for The Right Cottage came to me as I was listening to yet another of my friends tell me about his financial plight. How will he pay his rent? He has lost his job, and his roommate is moving out because he has found a less expensive living arrangement (leaving my friend with a place too big and a rent bill too high).

Well of course I certainly have great compassion for my friend’s predicament, and I do what I can to help him. But I also start to wonder what is going to happen to my own children when they begin to try to make it on their own in this oh-so-expensive world? Where will they live? How difficult will it be for them to find a job, get an apartment, pay all the bills? How will they come up with all the required money to even become part of this great rental game- first month’s rent, security deposit, and sometimes last month’s rent as well? Hmm…it sounds like a daunting task for even the brightest and most ambitious young person with a low-paying job.

Yes, they could always move back into my little home, and I would welcome them with open arms. But really, is this the ideal solution? I don’t think so. A young adult needs his own space – to grow independent and become his own person. (On that note, I think I better add a washer and dryer to the cottage’s list of amenities. Nothing says “independence” like doing your own laundry.) And let’s face it, by the time they are on their own, I too may want my own space.

My solution to a problem I don’t actually have yet? Plan ahead! I’ll build a small guest house in my own backyard, knowing that these little darlings of mine may indeed need it at one time or another as they make their way through life.

– Connie Allegra