Living large in a cozy cube
Photography by david j swift
(page 1 of 2)
Measuring only a little more than four hundred square feet, Katherine Liatsos’ house is beyond snug. Yet step inside, and a combination of white walls and glass gives the cube she calls home a surprisingly open, airy feel. Accents of bright, Granny Smith apple-green give the interior a hip, cheerful appeal. In sum, it hardly feels like living in a box.
“The challenge is how to build a box, and not have it be a box,” says Jackson architect Nona Yehia, of E/Ye Design, who designed Liatsos’ home. “How can you make four walls into something special?”
Why build so small? Practically speaking, this is the size Liatsos’ budget could handle in the pricey Jackson Hole market, and the square footage that fit town guidelines for where it sits on her lot. And it’s convenient. Liatsos owns Katherine, a women’s wear store on Pearl Avenue, where she sells high-end New York designs; outfits for mothers of the bride and more affordable, urban casual wear. Business has taken a hit since the economy nose-dived in 2008, and retail has been slow to recover, Liatsos says. Not only does her cozy cube require minimal utilities to heat and light, its locale also places her near the store so she can bike to work.
Budget aside, it’s just right for the petite Liatsos. “All the homes I have always liked were these tiny, little cabins,” she says. “I like small spaces. I don’t need that much space, I’m a small person. I don’t understand a 10,000-square-foot house.”
Start looking around the home, and one finds that it’s not a quick tour despite its pint size. Instead, it takes time to appreciate the many clever touches that make this place, dubbed the “Ice House” by E/Ye Design, more than simply livable.
A long wooden deck and a wall of glass make up the east-facing entrance, which takes in a generously sized yard where Liatsos may someday choose to build a bigger home. The combination of the yard’s expansive greenery, the house’s orientation toward Snow King Mountain, and the abundance of glass make it feel like you’re standing outside when you’re in the middle of the living room.
Like American architect Philip Johnson’s famous Glass House, built in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut, Liatsos’ cube embraces both its surroundings and modern materials.