By Ingrid Spencer-via:archrecord
Taking cues from the vernacular surrounding landscape and architecture—small farms with intermittent pine trees and scrub land, barns, tin sheds, mobile homes, and chicken coops—Ball designed the 850-square-foot home (which also has 395-square-feet of storage space, a 316-square-foot dining porch, and a 200-square-foot screened porch) as a modern take on the “dogtrot” prototype. Typical in the rural south, dogtrot buildings have a covered open space between two closed spaces, providing a sheltered, breezy area to gather during the hot summers. In the Bissinger’s home, this area serves as an informal dining porch looking out to the pond. It has quickly become the couple’s favorite part of the house. “Allan built a table and benches and we use the space as our main dining room and sitting room,” says Nancy Bissinger. “There is always a breeze from the pond and the sights and sounds are wonderful! In the morning we watch the birds and cows in the pasture as we have our coffee and in the evening we listen to the birds settle in for the night and the frogs sound off in their courting rituals.”
“The materials, as well as the design, are all very simple,” says Waggonner & Ball project designer Catherine Smith. The wood-framed house sits on an untreated concrete block base. Stained board-and-batten siding is interlaced with horizontal weatherboard siding. A diagonal, single-slope standing seam metal roof juxtaposes with the vertical form of a freestanding masonry fireplace in the dogtrot space, while broad steps and a raised concrete deck extend that area further into the landscape.
Inside, Smith says efficient use of space was key. The open porch divides the living space and screened porch from the storage/workroom. The living space is a double-height volume with a sleeping loft above closets and a bathroom. “We tried to make the most of such a small space,” she says. “Built-in cabinets, window seats, and some attic space, helped.”
According to Nancy, the small house has turned out to be the perfect respite to the couple’s busy city life. “Allan likes to say we have a mini-vacation every weekend,” she says. “We fly fish on our pond, watch birds—many species nest in the yard and we enjoy their families, Allan rides his tractor to clear brush and plant grass on the property; I pull out weeds and maintain our (mostly) native landscape, our friends and family visit and we enjoy peace and quiet with them. Our three grown children also enjoy the peace and quiet. We hope one day to teach grandchildren about the joys of the country life.”