Great ideas for small-scale living

Getting the most out of a space-efficient weekend getaway or home

Get to know the site. "Before we started construction, we studied the way sun and shadow fell on the land," says Vandervort.

Patio paving is used indoors to create a hearth and blur the distinction between inside and outside.

Loft windows are 2 feet from the floor. They make it easy to see outside from the sleeping platform and give the low-ceilinged space a feeling of roominess.

A simplified materials palette - fir for the floor, the cabinetry, and the trim; black sink and appliances, and cream-colored walls - contributes to the unified and restful look.