A couple downsize to a home designed by Botelho Wood that feels comfortable and restrained
despite the small footprint and won runner up in our 2017 building Design Awards

Perfect for entertaining, the backyard features an extended porch with a built-in fireplace.

While the young are often preoccupied with a need for increase in their life, a desire to distill the essence of what is truly important while clearing away unnecessary clutter often comes with maturity. Such is the case with Saltbox—a relatively small, two-bedroom home created for a couple with adult children who split their time between Bermuda, London and North America and wanted a home here that had all the amenities of a large house but better fit their jet-setting lifestyle. So they turned to Botelho Wood Architects to turn a 2,900-square-foot site next to their main house into their new dream home.

Downsizing with clarity of purpose and exceptional design is the mark of an award-worthy architectural design—and Botelho Wood hit the mark with Saltbox. “The building certainly rose to the challenge of the tight site restraints,” remarked one judge, while others commented on the “exceptional flow of space” and “successful blend of contemporary style with colonial touches.”

The name Saltbox derives from a New England style of house the owners liked and the architects loosely based their design on. A saltbox house derives it’s name from the resemblance to a wooden-lidded box in which salt was once kept. It usually features a long, pitched roof with one storey in the back and two storeys in the front with the asymmetry of the unequal sides being the most distinctive feature.

The open plan living area makes the space seem large.

Senior architectural technologist Mark Danforth described the design as “a blend of traditional Bermuda architecture with clean, simple, contemporary design that is loosely based on the saltbox style. It’s a small home with all the amenities of a large home.”

To fit so much into such a small footprint—1,200 square feet to be exact—the firm had to carefully consider each room to maximise the space for their client. As such, a simple open-plan living concept on the main floor was designed in conjunction with a covered veranda on the exterior to allow for an extended entertaining space. Designing the room as one open space featuring a clean-lined kitchen, dining area and living space the room feels luxuriously spacious. This feat was largely successful by burying the basement—with rooms for storage and services—and simple entrance foyer into the rock-cut below allowing the architect to free up the overall living space above while working within the tight site restraints. “The client has a home in central London so could appreciate a more compact living arrangement,” said Danforth.

The staircase features glass railings and a large window which floods the space with light.

Directly off the main living area, the backyard was designed to be intimate and perfect for entertaining. An existing rock-cut was readjusted by the landscape designers to “provide a strong focal point for planting and a general softening of the space,” according to Danforth. A Jacuzzi tub hidden away on the eastern side of the house and an outdoor fireplace under the covered veranda finish-off the space.

As for the more private areas of the house, up the glass-railing stairs on the top floor are a master bedroom suite and en suite guest room, both spacious and airy without excess. The total floor area of the three-storey house comes to 2,900 square feet and took two years to design and build.

The combined kitchen and dining area.

Situated directly on the road in Point Shares, there were considerable challenges faced in the building process. “[Due to the] tight site, there was no space for working, parking, deliveries, storage of materials, etc.,” explained Danforth. “We had to manage the project very well by coordinating and scheduling works between suppliers, contractors and installers in a systematic and logical manner.”

According to Danforth, it is the overall feeling of the home that he is most proud of. “Despite the small footprint that houses two en suite bedrooms, a master walk-in closet, an entry area, a study, two exterior verandahs, a drive-in garage, and a pump and mud room, the home feels comfortable and unrestrained,” he said. “Careful design creates naturally bright and airy spaces, allows the eye to wander and makes the spaces feel large.”

The master suite on the third floor is spacious and inviting.

While the thought of downsizing can be daunting, the perfect design can be life changing—despite the challenges. The key is finding the right partner to put all the pieces together, exactly what was accomplished in this awardworthy project. As one judge simply stated, “They found a place for everything.”