On a tiny sliver of land between a country road and a pretty Berkshire lake, a tired little fishing cottage was filled with childhood memories for Daniel Henry. His father had bought the place in the 1970s, a place to bring his Westchester, N.Y., family for swimming, fishing and catching fireflies. Built in the pre-zoning 1920s, the cottage sat just about two feet from the water — you drop in a fishing line out the window to the pristine lake.

As a parent, Daniel Henry wanted to make similar memories for his own children. So first, he bought a home of his own across the lake, but now he wants to bring the old fishing camp back to life for family and visitors.

The challenge: The family needed more than 600 square feet, but they had just 1/15th of an acre. The original fishing cottage would have to be torn down. But most importantly,  said Daniel, “With today’s zoning, we could never build so close to the water.” They would need the right design team.

The solution: Daniel’s team, including architect Robert Hebb, worked with local zoning and conservation officials within the rules of town zoning: since the original cottage predated current zoning. he could rebuild on the existing foundation.

The plan: a two-story cottage, no more than 1,000 square feet  The new home would be small but tall, with two bedrooms, two baths {?}.

We were invited in early on, and were able to collaborate with the owner and architect to incorporate design concepts that would maximize space — and the feel of space — inside. We helped with some exterior design concepts as well: dramatic thermal pane, low-e windows, and durable but beautiful construction materials: Daniel had emphasized he wanted nearly no maintenance worries.

A well was drilled and a tight tank for waste was situated above ground, but under the deck. The new cottage has its back to the road, so to minimize noise, we selected insulation made of a soy-based product for improved insulation.


Inside, we’ve developed some unorthodox concepts for the interior: the wood floors { will wrap up along the walls, and two feet into the ceiling above

The fishing cottage, when rebuilt, reflects three generations of love for a Berkshire lake for the Henry family (his sister also owns a house along the shore).

“So far the house looks much bigger than it is. Mostly, we want it to be a place for relaxing and hanging around, with zero maintenance. Our children have all grown to love the lake, and we want to leave this new house as a legacy.”