Wyer's End

Wyer's End is a pocket of 18 small cottages located just three blocks from the center of White Salmon, Washington, a town originally named by Lewis and Clark that has since won acclaim as the windsurfing capital of North America. Houses are clustered around common gardens and a community building, with parking on the periphery.

Situated in a grove of mature oak trees, the neighborhood offers stunning views of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River. "The larger community is a combination of progressive, sporty, nature-oriented people and small-town residents with rural values," says architect Ross Chapin. "Demographically, it's kind of at the crossroads of America."

Making clever use of a small, wedge-shaped land parcel, the pocket development has transformed a high crime area into a close-knit village. Lanes connect to existing streets and alleys of the city grid. "We proposed to the city that we narrow the streets to reduce impervious surface area and avoid overheating of the microclimate," Chapin explains. "They went for it."

Residents enjoy private gardens, as well as shared green spaces. At build-out, the neighborhood will include 28 homes. Phase 2 (not yet built) will introduce live-work units to the mix.

Thanks to careful solar orientation and thoughtful window positioning, each home enjoys natural light all day and a feeling of spaciousness inside. Hardwood floors are locally sourced. Built-ins come standard with each plan.

The cottages are small in size (averaging 1,100 square feet) but big on memorable details, such as fine millwork and playful Dutch doors.

Not to mention artful backsplashes, custom cabinetry, and low-VOC paints...

With their fiber cement exteriors and vinyl trim, all homes are durable and low-maintenance. Chapin masterminds the color palette for every project he designs.

Each house is affordable by nature of its size, yet loaded with personality and playfulness. Small details make a big difference.

Efficient floor plans with space-saving display and storage features make sure every square inch of living area is put to good use.

Construction specs exceed code standards. Walls include extra insulation for sound attenuation and energy efficiency. Landscaping is designed for minimal water usage.

"There is a market in tight times for well-designed, thoughtfully-built, smaller homes in a community setting," Chapin contends. "Baby boomers, especially, are looking ahead and reconsidering their options. Most don't want to end up isolated in a sheetrock castle. We are trying to show, by example, that there are alternatives. That you can have privacy but also have the context of community."

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