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Modern Cottage

AB Design Studio




Heidi Ferguson


  • AB design studio
  • Blaine Canchola
  • Chris Gilliland
  • Ciro Coelho

Project Status


Year Completed



1,577 sq. feet

Construction Cost




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Project Description

The client resided in the quaint home for over 14 years. When her husband passed away in 2007, she decided to carry on their dream of expanding their 900 SF house into a multigenerational home.

The intention was to create a contemporary narrative for the modest 1920's cottage that reflected the family’s long interest in modernism and modern art. As a local gallery owner, the client wanted to create a place that enhanced, not took away from, the art itself. Clay Aurell worked with the client to transform ideas and concepts for living into a dwelling and an experience that combined elements of materiality, light and air into thoughtfully articulated forms and spaces. This unique project transformed an aged structure into a custom home with a sensitive balance of drama, space, light and livability.

In collaboration with the client, AB design studio created an environmentally responsible dwelling focused on local and global standards that addressed green architecture, sustainability and adaptive re-use. Early techniques like day lighting and natural ventilation combined with a wide array of readily available modern technologies produced a smart, efficient, budget conscience and sustainable home.

For the Modern Cottage, ABds used standing seam metal roofing, decorative wood slats and unique design concepts to create a home that provided a quality living environment and supported the client’s artistic impulses and created a comfortable living for her, her two children and her parents. The design responded to the site and to the tight constraints of the 5,000 SF corner lot.

The solution concentrated on interior and exterior spaces that were functional without excess. By keeping the home small and providing an adequate common area, the family could co-exist in tight quarters but with enough recluse to allow for privacy. This house featured an open common room that included the living room, kitchen and dining area with high sloping ceilings and access to the lofted bedroom above the kitchen. Flanking the living room were two bedrooms that were relatively the same size along the side of the house. All around the house was a continuous yard, which connected the front and the back of the house. In addition, the property had a 3-car garage with a completely separate living space. This garage living space consisted of a one-bedroom one-bath unit with an open concept living space including a kitchen, living and dining area with access to a patio. The patio above the garage had spectacular mountain views and served as an additional living area, made possible by the mild temperature of the Santa Barbara-area.

The landscaping of the property complemented the harsh modern exterior of the house to the surrounding neighbors. The private continuous yard provided a play area for both the kids and pets. Consistent with the style of the house, the yard consisted of contemporary drought tolerant grasses and succulents and permeable pavers.

Interesting Elements:
- Slatted Exterior wall detail
- Standing seam metal roofing and siding
- Separate living unit
- Unique exterior design
- Semi-permeable glass garage doors

AB design studio:
Principal- Clay Aurell
Projec Manager- Anthon Ellis
Business Development – Arianna Leopard,
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