The first thing about a second house is that it must be delightful. This poses a problem for the family that has reached the point of being able to consider a vacation house, but only something modest. If you build an inexpensive, uncongenial house you have an inexpensive, uncongenial house, and if you borrow great sums to build more elaborately you may become a slave to the place and to the debt.
Designer John Carden Campbell, of the San Francisco firm of Campbell & Wong, a specialist in vacation homes (his firm developed the A frame), was not addressing himself specifically to this dilemma when he designed, especially for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, the house on these pages. He was trying to work out a house suitable for all seasons and all terrains, but the result should appeal to the family that prefers to begin slowly and eventually expand.
Campbell's basic unit is the hexagon, and the house is like a honeycomb: hexagonal units ultimately form a larger hexagon. Mr. Campbell has found the six-sided form more interesting and flexible to decorate and live with than the rectangular. As a result, the first stage (the unit on the left in the illustration), opening on to the sun deck, is charming and livable from the start. It is a bed-sitting-room arrangement with kitchen and bath. You can build it for about $8,500 and be happy in it until you are ready to add units 2, 3, 4 (the swimming pool) and 5, or you can build it and be happy in it and stop. The house works at any stage.
If you do choose to expand as income or family increases (or, hopefully, income and family) the additional units are built one by one, for more bedrooms or open living space, whichever need is the more critical. In time, the house can develop into a luxurious layout indeed (total cost, with pool, about $40,000) but without an alarming initial outlay and without the sacrifice of grace or comfort at any step of the way. The flexibility of this scheme, indicated on the following pages, makes this house as various in its possibilities as geography, season, function and the taste and imagination of the owners demand.
John Carden Campbell had something in going from the rectangle to the triangle when he designed the A-frame house. In progressing from the triangle to the hexagon, he has achieved practically everything.
All five stages are shown complete in this floor plan, each stage opening both on the inner court and to the outside view. The unit at the lower left and the center court, together, comprise stage 1. Stage 2 adds two bedrooms and another bath. Across the court, stage 3 is all living room, rising open to the peak of a roof above 12-foot walls. Stages 4 and 5 in this plan are at ground level—4 is the swimming pool and 5 is dropped to give more privacy for guest rooms and extra deck space above to maintain the open-pavilion feeling. (This expansion works best in areas that do not receive heavy snow or suffer hurricane waves.) The pool is accessible from the deck by steps, and there is a gate to prevent access by mistake—say, during parties.
Campbell has considered several other specific vacation-house problems. He has set gratings into the floor at the front entryway and at strategic points around the deck so that those vacation substances, sand and snow, do not have to be tracked through the house. He has split the bath in stage 2. Campbell recommends a wash basin in each bedroom and separate chambers for toilet and shower, so that the ablutions of one guest or of one child do not tie up the whole unit. He also favors bunk beds, for economy of space, and is partial to open closets with simple rods and hooks along one wall. And he advocates simplicity and flexibility in the heating—electric baseboards or, in larger rooms, separate stoves, so that the units of the house are independent of each other. A weekend visit when you might wish to open only stage 1 would not require heating 2, 3 and 5.
Stilts lift the house high, providing storage space for cars or boats and room for a shower and dressing rooms (at left in drawing below). At the beach they keep the house above stormy seas, and in ski country above the snow. The height of the walls varies from unit to unit. Stages 1 and 3 are open to the peaks for maximum spaciousness. Stages 2 and 5, which are sleeping units, have 8-foot ceilings. An economical alternative would be flat roofs all around, paved with white marble chips. At the seaside circular skylights in the flat roofs help combat the insidious sea damp. Unpainted cedar shingles are recommended as handsome and durable.
In snow country you might choose to stop building after stages 1 and 2, and to enclose half of your deck with a roof and sliding glass doors for a warmer transit from living room to bed. And if you should decide that, though you chose snow country for your house, you don't want snow all over your deck, allow yourself a burst of extravagance and put in radiant heating. If your view is so splendid that you want even more window space than John Campbell has indicated, he recommends long slits in the solid walls. Another extra could be outdoor stairs from the deck to stage 5.