Project Description

Lucia’s Little Houses > House #03

Tapio’s House

Planned around a Finnish stove in the center, this house is warm and cozy even on sites without a lot of sunshine. The step down into the living room gives the entire ground floor a sense of expansiveness.


This is a very compact house with what I feel is a decided Scandinavian tone (Tapio is a wood deity in Finland), designed for a couple with strong ties to Finland.

Tall trees uphill to the south meant limited winter solar gain, so we concentrated on creating good energy-retention, and probably more important, a very cozy feeling inside. The series of interlocking spaces revolves around a wonderful Finnish soapstone stove in the center of the house, and because the house is small, nobody is ever too far from this radiant heat source.

Come in the front door and there is a little cubby on the left to sit down in and take off your boots and hang up your cap. Walk into the entry area and there are the stairs and the big west-facing window for the sunset on your left, and a kitchen on the right that’s big enough for a few people to work in and a few more people to hang out around.

Wander down a few steps to the living room. Sinking that floor a foot gives a surprising feeling of spaciousness and a strong sense of place for this conversation area. A key to making small houses work is a willingness to look at the traditional roles of rooms and to change and resize them to fit the way you actually live. The former furniture repository, known as the “living room,” is now a small but very important place to sit in a comfortable chair and talk to a few people.

You can step up to a small library that takes up the north end of the dining space. Here the ceiling gets low to the east, increasing both the sense of enclosure and the impact of the low skylights. While this space makes a nice little homework or reading space, it also serves double duty as expansion space for the dining area to the south. The table can get longer and this can become the biggest room in the house when you have a party.

In the southeast corner is a pantry. Pantries work well to keep costs down because it is much cheaper to store a lot of food and china in a closet with open shelves than it is to store it in a wall of cabinets where you can never find stuff anyway.

Upstairs the guest room is on the right, and on the left is a compact master bedroom. It has a stunning 6-foot round window that somehow gives this room a sense of owning the view. Best of all is the private balcony off the sauna where you can stand outside in the winter and steam, or step outside on a summer morning while you’re waking up.

This house works best on a site with a view in the opposite direction from the approach, and a forested, or at least hilly, terrain. I don’t think it would prosper on a flat undifferentiated lot because it has too much compressed energy and it needs to be in a more containing visual environment.

Working drawings provide you with the architectural documentation you (or your builder) need to build this house. Working drawing sets vary for each of the houses. Click here to order.


Heated sq. ft. . . . . .1,523
Adjusted sq. ft. . . . .1,690
2 – Bedrooms
1 – full Bathroom
2 – half Bathrooms
Sauna, walk-out basement


Foot Print 1,092 sq. ft.
View Dimension 32’
Side Dimension 36’
Height 21’-6”


1st Floor 864 sq. ft.
2nd Floor 659 sq. ft.

1st Floor

Living 11’ x 16’
Dining 9’ x 19’
Kitchen 15’ x 9’
Pantry 5’ x 9’-6”
Bath–1 4’-6” x 5

2nd Floor

Bedroom–1 11’ x 9’-6”
Bedroom–2 11’ x 9’-6”
Bath/Sauna 5’-6” x 7’

Working Drawings

• 1st & 2nd flr. Plans
• Elevations
• Sections/Schedules
• Fndtn Plan, 1st flr. Framing
• 2nd flr. Framing, Kitchen
• Details
• Electrical Plans