Notes From The Field: Simply Elegant

By Cheryl Katz

Many years ago, my husband Jeffrey and I agreed to join friends, whose gustatory appetites were legend, on a one-week trip to Paris. The main goal of the trip was to dine in as many well –reviewed restaurants as possible.

This being the 1990s traditional French food was still heavily sauced, woefully creamy, and rich. Very, very rich. For weeks after our return, all we craved were fruits, vegetables, and unbuttered toast. Those 7 gluttonous days had more than sated us.

The same could be said about the architecture that most excites us now. After more than a decade of working on houses whose footprints keep expanding until they are the size of small institutes and with materials that are far richer than those French sauces, it is smaller, humbler, more sensible dwellings that we crave.

This year, while on our yearly vacation to Truro, we visited the Hatch Cottage in Wellfleet. Designed in 1960 by Jack Hall, the cottage, perched on a hillock overlooking the bay, was conceived as a series of cubes in a grid matrix, with living room /kitchen, bedrooms, and bath each a separate component. During the summer when the cottage is in use, shutters are hoisted up to expose glass and screen panels. The rest of the year they are closed to create a simple wood cube. The materials – wood and steel – are simple but beautiful. The furnishings, pared down. The house is appropriate for both its picturesque context and its use as a summer cottage. What could be more satisfying?

Note: Thanks to the work of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust this cottage, along with other Modernist structures on the Outer Cape will be preserved. For more information contact: ccmht.org.

Photos by Jeffrey Katz

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