A “cottage,” says the Oxford American Dictionary, is “a small, simple house, typically one near a lake or beach.”
The Highlands’ new design, the Skylark Cottage, syncs almost perfectly with this definition.
By American standards, its 1,344 square feet is small. In 2014, the median size of a new single-family house was 2,453 square feet. We think, frankly, that this “standard” is ridiculously overinflated, wasteful, and ultimately unsustainable.
The Highlands at Langley is a 15-minute walk from the scenic beaches of Saratoga Passage, the two miles of Puget Sound water separating Whidbey and Camano islands. It’s three miles from Lone Lake, a popular attraction for fishing and sailboat racing.
“Simple?” Well, yes and no. The floor plan is astoundingly clean and efficient, with two bedrooms, two baths, a den, and even a dedicated laundry room folded in. The living, dining, and kitchen spaces are all integrated into one space that feels remarkably expansive, with a high ceiling and clerestory window.
But like all the Highlands’ homes, it takes a comprehensive and sophisticated approach to energy efficiency. It starts at ground zero, literally, with the foundation. We insulate from the ground up, including the floor. Wall systems contain not only the usual insulation batts, but also 2 inches of high-density spray-in foam.
We build the home very tightly, then use the electronically controlled ventilation system to slightly “pressurize” it. The difference in air pressure inside and out is too small to feel, but it’s just enough to block incoming air when a door opens.
This is not your grandparents’ rustic vacation cottage at the lake. This is a solid, sustainable home—comfortable in all seasons, versatile in accommodating every variety of family life, and built to last. And yet, living in a setting like this will look and feel like the vacation that never ends.
We’re planning to build at least three Skylark Cottages in 2016. We also have a new neighborhood of nine lots underway, and we’ll be building homes of various sizes and designs on them during the year.
And then The Highlands will be just about complete. With its 54 homes in all.
Like the individual homes, the community is small and simple. It’s a place to feel a part of rather than a place to get lost in. Which is perfectly in tune with the spirit of Whidbey Island.