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The Cottage Company: Building Better, Not Bigger

The Cottage Company specializes in single level living options and a high quality, small footprint, well designed home

By Yvonne Nguyen 

Established in 1997, The Cottage Company has more than 25 years of experience creating innovative single family infill developments that focus on fostering a sense of community. The developers and builders at The Cottage Company set the standards for sustainable living and smart housing by blending style with functionality. With sustainability at the core of their practice, the company is nationally recognized for developing thoughtfully designed energy efficient communities.  

Located in Northeast Seattle in Olympic Hills is the Olympic Hills Backyard Neighborhood, a pocket neighborhood consisting of a renovated cottage and a newly constructed cottage built in a complementary style. 

The Cottage Company is known for creating small neighborhoods of close-in, walkable infill, single family communities with plenty of private, outdoor space to allow occupants in a home to connect with the natural surroundings. This particular neighborhood is centrally located – just blocks away from the Lake City Urban Village and a mile away from the NE 130th  Light Rail station.

Development and construction for the pocket neighborhood started in December 2020 and was completely built out by September 2021. Through long standing relationships with Charles Wenzlau, Lead Architect at Wenzlau Architects and the architectural team, The Cottage Company was able to renovate an original 1920s cottage and design a brand new cottage that complemented the style of the existing one. 

“The Olympic Hills Backyard Neighborhood is made of homes that emulate the architectural style and surroundings of rural neighborhoods in 20th century Washington.” – Linda Pruitt, Owner, The Cottage Company

With help from the landscape designers at City Garden Services and civil engineers at Core Design Inc, they were able to create a pocket neighborhood with modern appliances and amenities that still evoked a sense of nostalgia for the architecture of the 20th century. 

The Olympic Hills Backyard Neighborhood is made of homes that emulate the architectural style and surroundings of rural neighborhoods in 20th century Washington. The team drew inspiration from the farm homesteads and the rural farmland that existed when the main house was built in 1929. The original house truly set the tone for the pocket neighborhood. 

The original house is a classic Tudor style from the 20th century that was completely gutted, redesigned and rebuilt to meet modern standards with all new systems, appliances and fixtures that modernizes the home and added features to improve energy efficiency. Additionally, the basement was converted into a studio apartment that could be accessed from the backyard and the existing carport was converted into an enclosed garage.

Despite the modern upgrades, the builders and designers took care to preserve the important original elements of the house including the clear fir and oakwood flooring, original moldings, arched doorways, divided windows, stone fireplace and the front Dutch door. 

The newly constructed cottage was carefully designed to mimic and match the style of the original Tudor structure. The single level cottage includes a detached garage and plenty of outdoor areas separate from the main house. 

The interior was designed to coordinate with the main house, featuring a dramatic vaulted common room, dining nook, reclaimed wide plank solid fir wood flooring and natural paneled accents, complete with high efficiency household systems, appliances and fixtures. 

Homes in the community range from 993 to 1,655 square feet, with strategic wall and window placements to create light and open living spaces in the properties. Occupants of the homes can enjoy the abundance of lush garden spaces available.

The Olympic Hill Backyard Neighborhood is Built Green 4-Star certified. The houses are all electric and come equipped with heat-pump heating and cooling, hybrid heat pump water and high efficiency air sealing and insulation. As a Built Green 4-Star community, the houses perform at a minimum of 20% energy cost savings as compared to a standard new home built to Washington State’s energy code requirements. 

As an infill development, the developers had to come up with innovative development strategies to maximize use of the lot. In addition to preserving two large heritage cedar trees and bespoke garden plantings, the team had to address the lack of stormwater infrastructure in the neighborhood. 

Site development strategies include 100% infiltration of impervious surfaces into the garden areas, permeable paving materials for drive and walkways and created onsite drainage solutions that infiltrated 100% of impervious surface water runoff.

The Cottage Company takes pride in building better, not bigger. Their pocket neighborhoods are built with green building technologies, energy efficiency and sustainable building practices combined with a thoughtful design to maximize living space in every room. The Olympic Hills Backyard Neighborhood has received an award of merit from the 2022 Gold Nugget Awards. 

Yvonne Nguyen is the Assistant Editor of Builder and Developer. She can be reached at yvonne@builder.media.