Cottage Living

The homes in Cottage Living are not rugged lean-tos. They are bona fide primary digs, slick enough and sometimes expensive enough to foster envy in us all. This issue had a special "Green Life" section. Green is the color du jour of the eco-conscious, which counts reasonable people everywhere. (It excludes those with plasma TVs, which use ridiculous amounts of electricity, and anyone with a private jet. See Tracy Ullman's "State of the Union" and her send-up of Laurie David.) Hello! Living simply does not mean owning five homes and four SUVs. Why do urbanites drive these monsters? The Upper East Side is not the Rockies; since when do you need a car to scale mountains of social indifference?

  By contrast, it's upbeat and positive to search for fresh food, clean energy and responsible neighborhood development. To date, few Americans have entered the Promised Land, but it's nice to dream. And when you do, peruse a copy of Cottage Living, which offers lifestyle, gardening, travel and cooking stories.

When it comes to modern-day cottages, we're not talking about the Garden of Allah, the famed Hollywood bungalows where Dorothy Parker and Humphrey Bogart drank to all hours and bemoaned studio life. Today, sobriety has replaced sass, and Aberdeen Cottage, by designer Scott Sullivan, is 2,500 square feet, a measurement that rivals an actual house. Hansel and Gretel this isn't. What defines a cottage? I will check and get back to you.

I'm back. There are two definitions that apply: 1) a small house, usually only one story, 2) a small, modest house at a lake, mountain resort, etc., owned or rented as a vacation home. Small is probably relative. In America, 2, 500+ square feet is standard size. In New York, it's positively palatial and reserved for potentates. Only foreigners, per The New York Times, can afford Manhattan real estate, given the devalued dollar on the global stage. Can Shack Life be far behind?

So let's begin our journey on the West Coast, where architect Ross Chapin has designed a "pocket neighborhood" in a Puget Sound town. The home sweet homes are between 750 and 900 square feet and judging from the photos, Chapin packed punch into his reduced blueprints. The Third Street Cottages are very pretty, boasting muted pastel exteriors and surrounded by a lushly landscaped common courtyard. These monuments to slim and trim are what were once considered "a starter house" -- until the economy started to crumble.

Yet even in tough times, there are those who define "the good life" by conspicuous consumption. The night table from the Celerie Collection, which maybe holds two books and a phone, is $1,155. Have their customers never heard of IKEA? You can probably find a table that's cheaper and bigger with a special ergonomically designed panel to stash your bedroom secrets. When it comes to form and function, trust the Swedes. I'll wager their cottages are a thing of beauty -- and can float, too.

Back on the home front, many of those profiled in Cottage Living have successfully transformed their farms or suburbs into models of sustainable living. Be it a commitment to geothermal heating in schools or native landscaping -- i.e. no lawn mower or fertilizer, just flowers, shrubs and wildlife -- it's an inspiring reminder that all politics is personal. We can reclaim our own destiny -- and stick it to the oil companies -- one homestead at a time.


Published by: Southern Progress Corp.

Frequency: 8 issues/year

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