Debra Rucker Coleman, Architect
Floor 1
1,176 sf
Floor 2
176 sf
1,352 sf
Daylight Basement
1,176 sf
Entry Faces
South Glass
Gazing Star
The Gazing Star is ideal for a steep, narrow lot with expansive views to the east and south. The home was inspired by the French Cowgirl series with the small footprint and spacious living areas below. This home features a south viewing tower, a side balcony and a large east deck to take full advantage of the views. A front garage below keeps the house narrow while wide stars lead up to the welcoming east-facing front
First Floor
The large front roof deck is ideal for entertaining. It connects to the back porch with the full length balcony for easy party traffic flow. The living room features a large hearth with views to the south and east (or west for sunset views if the home is reversed). The space flows into the dining with the kitchen tucked into the corner with the convenient back porch for outdoor dining while viewing the sunsets (or sunrises for breakfast if the house was reversed). The ship's ladder (with pantry below) accesses the fun viewing tower with access large enough for furniture that can be assembled upstairs. In the northwest corner is the first floor bedroom and bath with shared access from the living area.
Daylight Basement
The central, day lit stairs lead to the sunny lower level. A convenient dumb waiter for bringing groceries up to the main level is easy to access. The full daylight basement has a master bedroom suite and one more bedroom leaving the upstairs bedroom for a study or aging parents. Having the laundry in the lower level frees up more space on the first floor. An open central den makes a nice getaway from the upstairs or vice versa depending upon where a television might be kept. South French doors permit easy moving of furniture and a quiet escape to the sunny south patio.
Basement Garage
The attached over sized two-vehicle garage has a greenhouse area and mechanical or storage space area along the south wall. The garage is deep enough to allow cabinets along with house wall. The main garage door entry to the home is through a spacious family foyer with room for boots and coats before ascending to the main floor. A concrete garage roof doubles as a large patio area above. The garage could be detached if the land allowed for its placement on the north side of the first floor.
Construction Info
The Gazing Star is designed for clear span roof trusses and 6" exterior walls where it's possible to add more insulation to the exterior, and an insulated basement foundation. Both floors have 8' ceilings with the first floor south rooms vaulted to the center, but can easily be changed to 9' ceilings. Thermal mass is located in tile floors, some stone wall mass on the first floor and basement wall mass. When the basement door is open, the passive cooling with the stack effect of the tower can especially can be maximized in summer.
Modification Ideas
Since these ideas may affect energy performance and structural integrity, they should only be undertaken with professional assistance.
  • Lengthen the kitchen to allow for a set of full stairs to the tower then extend the tower over the dining area to be able to add a bedroom. This adds some space to the first floor bedroom too.
  • Add a kitchenette below to accommodate two families
  • If basement is not built, replace the stairs with a laundry
  • Remove the tower to simplify construction and costs
  • Add a master shower in place of the linen, optional washer/dryer space
Construction Drawings
For this plan, the following are included for Construction Prints and CAD Files:
  • Schematic Site Plan
  • Daylight Basement Plan with Garage
  • First Floor & Tower Floor Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Building Section
  • Kitchen Elevations
  • Typical Wall Detail
  • Schematic Electrical Plans
  • Schematic Framing Plans
Comments and Photos
Thanks to David and Cheryl for the photos of their home nestled into the hill. The garage had to be in the front due to the steep site and the stone steps the curve up to the front door. The wide expanse of great room and dining adds thermal mass.  Homes with a little less south glass would not need this much for sunny winter days, but it does not hurt interior comfort to have extra thermal mass.