Hilltop Haven: Designing a Summer Cottage
No matter how beautiful summer mornings are, it is impossible to ignore the toll that the rising temperatures, and intermittent power outages take on an urbanite. If you aren’t already, this is the perfect time to plan a family-friendly mountain retreat. What if, the next time around, rather than staying in a guest house, hotel or lodge, you vacation in your very own summer cottage? With the services of an architectural design firm in Pakistan in tow, you are months away from building your very own hilltop summer house in Abbottabad, Nathia Gali or Bhurban. Just imagine: the entire family is lounging on the cottage balcony, sipping tea and admiring the lush valleyscape below. Enlisting the services of an architect experienced in house construction in Pakistan, especially in the northern areas, should be the first item on the tasklist.
Location, Location, Location
Before selecting the pillows or the curtains, it’s best to begin with a location for your summer cottage. For family units with younger children or elderly parents, opt for a plot closer to the city centre with easy access to hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and other essential utilities. Ideally, your future vacation home will have WiFi coverage, reliable sources of electricity, gas and running water as well as a breathtaking view of the mountainside.
Break From Reality
When deciding on the size of the summer home, it’s highly recommended that homeowners go for a modern house design that is easy to maintain. Choose a smaller-than-usual area to build upon, maybe half the size of your regular accommodation in the city. Select durable, easy-to-clean marble tile floors instead of light-colored carpets and wooden floors. As for the upholstery, go for durable, stain-resistant fabrics and generally use darker, patterned materials.
Leave Your Mark
When it comes to décor, we all desire a space that is comfortable yet unique. For your summer home, why not try something you can’t do back in the city? Paint the walls neon-yellow or design a sunroom complete with wicker furniture. Everyone is constructing straight-line contemporary homes, do something different – go for a slanted roof, a wrap-around porch, and even a full-size chandelier.
Plan for Private & Shared Spaces
Work with your design team, both the architect and the interior designer, to create an intimate summer home that allows for privacy as well as communal spaces. Family members should be able to retire to their own chambers for some peace and quiet without feeling isolated. Is reading books your idea of fun? Add in a small library with a picture window for hours of uninterrupted reading.
We tend to waste space while building homes in the city, so this summer home project can be an exercise in minimalism. Take a cue from the global tiny home movement by conserving building resources and designing multi-purpose spaces in the cottage. Use convertible sofa-beds and flip-out dining panels instead of stand-alone beds and dining room tables.
A Walk in the Garden
Ask anyone with a green thumb, there is no such thing as too many plants. Personalize your new garden by planting indigenous flowering plants, trees, and shrubs that work well with the local climate. Unlike a temporary holiday arrangement, constructing one’s personal summer cottage provides homeowners endless opportunities for customization. Is singing old songs around a bonfire a family tradition? Keep the tradition alive by asking your architect to design a fire-pit surrounded with river rock slabs which can double as seating. Options for the food connoisseurs include the installation of a brick oven or a bespoke barbeque corner in the corner of the garden.
All Hands on Deck
If you have a big family or plan on inviting friends up for a get-together, you will need the services of support staff at the summer home. The blueprint should include comfortable living quarters for all members of the staff, including the year-round security personnel.
Even the most committed workaholics, when asked in a weak moment, will admit to the urge to just ‘get away from it all!’. We all deserve a break, so why not head north to your custom-built summer cottage. At least until you are recharged enough to take on the world again!