Tour Two Contemporary Connecticut Guests Houses
April 14, 2021
Two accessory buildings act as onsite retreats for housebound families.
Text by Bob Curley
Practicality can sometimes yield artistry, and a guest house designed by Sherman Building Design partners Michael Carpanzano and Lauren Neill on their Sherman property ticks a lot of usability boxes: pandemic-friendly quarters for visiting family, pool house, lake house, a couple’s date-night hideout, workshop, business office, and—not insignificantly—a platform for a rooftop solar-panel array. All of that within a zoning-limited 750 square feet.
The Scandinavian-inspired, offset A-frame guest house’s light wood exterior and clean lines make it seem ordinary from the side. Only when viewed from the front does the unconventional silhouette become apparent: the roof plane is pitched to accommodate the solar field that powers the guest house, an adjacent in-ground pool, and the main residence. Raised parapets make the solar panels appear flush to the roofline rather than an awkward appendage.
Bathed in natural light, Neill’s interior design emphasizes the casual, rustic setting with copious use of light wood and repurposed furniture. A project that began as a multifunctional alternative to siting solar panels in a field has played a critical role in the family’s pandemic-survival strategy. “It’s important to stay connected to people, and now we have a place that everyone can safely enjoy,” says Carpanzano.
Architecture and builder: Michael Carpanzano, Sherman Building Design
Interior design: Lauren Neill, Sherman Building Design
Landscape design: Sherman Building Design and Cortina Gardens
Photography: Emily Sidoti
Detached barns are nothing unusual in the former farming community of New Canaan, but it’s safe to say that few include their own built-in spa and in-home gym.
Father-and-son architectural team James and Jim Schettino had previously expanded on the homeowners’ principal residence, which lacked for additional elbow room. They returned to conceive a detached structure based on a traditional barn design but with modern sensibilities like gunmetal-framed fifteen-foot-by-eight-foot floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. Roll-up doors in the back provide fresh air to the fitness room and also allow the barn to be converted into a garage—if desired—in the future.
Glass barn doors separate the living area and gym. The gabled aluminum roof is interrupted only by a small dormer, permitting stairway access to the two second-floor guest bedrooms. Nearly every inch of the town-permitted 1,000 square feet of interior space was put to work, with the living area extended to a blue-stone patio that features an inviting spa.
With the owners’ college-age children back at home due to the pandemic, the extra space was particularly welcome for family dinners, movie nights, socially distanced cocktails, and other activities. “We have four kids, and with them all at home, the barn saved us,” says owner Jen Richardson.