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Prefab Desert Getaway House With Retractable Covered Deck

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Built far from the nearest neighboring road or building, this home’s construction was as much about its harsh surrounding desert landscape as it was about the building itself. Designed and built as a prototype for nottoscale’s new modular prefab designs, the T-shaped house is meant as an isolated getaway for its artist owner. Though hooked up to basic utilities, the house is meant to be as low-energy as possible, with no air conditioning system and other environmentally-friendly design traits. Because of these elements, the home’s architecture and orientation is meant specifically to take advantage of sunlight and desert breezes at specific times of day, keeping it livably cool by day and comfortably warm by night. The dwelling also features a large covered deck beyond its living room with a retractable cloth awning, effectively doubling the public space in its layout. Inside, the furniture choices and color palette are kept relatively simple and pleasing to the eye, emphasizing comfort over complexity. Tall ceilings and large windows make each room feel spacious and connected to the vacation home’s dramatic natural surroundings.

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On the sides of the house which face the most direct sunlight throughout the day, various tactics are used to keep the interior from becoming flooded with sunlight and the heat that results from it. Along this edge, most of the windows are kept thin and wide to give a view out without letting too much light in.

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On the edge which faces the sun head-on, daytime light is mitigated in some areas and captured in others. A large porch awning covers the deck and keeps rays out of the main living space of the dwelling, while two angled skylights bring in natural illumination at key points in the day.

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Except for bathrooms and storage, every room of the residence has a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. Coupled with the elevation of the building above the desert floor, these windows give sweeping view of the dry, untouched landscape beyond its walls.

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Complete with a built-in hot tub for the cold of a desert night, the concrete-framed patio almost doubles the public living space of the vacation house. Its awning is retractable horizontally, allowing for stargazing by night from the comfort of the deck.

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The largest room and principal meeting point of the home is a combined living room and kitchen. This room also contains more windows than any other, with a window wall leading out to the deck, skylights above, and the kitchen’s strip window along the rear edge.

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Decor inside is chic, comfortable, and relatively uncluttered. The largest furniture pieces in the space are black or white, with smaller pieces done up in accent colors (mostly red). The low-set nature of the living room couch and the mobile coffee table next to it help to accent the height of the room, with its 9-foot ceilings made taller by the angled skylights.

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The kitchen counters and stools are significantly taller than the living room furniture, helping to separate the area while sharing the same portion of the floorplan.

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Despite its relatively compact floorplan, the cottage still has enough space for a study room. This room only has a single computer desk inside, and an unhindered view of the desert and mountains far in the distance.

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Each of the vacation home’s smaller bedrooms has its own little study nook, tucked between a built-in wall closet and the outer edge of the building. An elegant, functional lamp extends from the rear wall to provide light to read be when no natural brightness comes through the window wall behind.

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The master bedroom is the only private room to have its own skylight and corner set of windows, giving light to the entire space. The bed itself is done in “floating” style, with space underneath for extra storage.

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Each bathroom is unpretentious, with floors and wall sections done up in small colorful tiles. The layout of the two bathrooms is exactly the same, with one shared by the two guest bedrooms and the other accessed from the master.

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  • Mike Chapman

    Beautiful house! Where did the awning come from? Is it custom?