I would love to fantasize with you about my favorite form of house for my retirement. I know it will not come to pass, because I do not have the resources to buy what I would want to furnish it with. I do have some fabulous antiques to work with, but not in a consistent style. I have a Sheraton chest of drawers, a pair of 17th century candlesticks , early American rocker,French Bergeres...nothing blends well. that is OK if you have several rooms, but a consistent style is best if you are talking about this particular project.
Even though it is in a palazzo, it is not appreciably larger than the room I am discussing
I have long felt that I would only need a house the size of my living room to be completely content. Well, I was wrong. I have been researching my needs and wants and this week I have finally looked at a building that gave me the inspiration I was looking for. I have settled on a rather opulent Palace room in Italy. Now, I am actually approaching this subject with the idea of using any one style in this type of house. I like the Italian Palazzo, but this would be a good thing to do with 18th Century American Furniture, or all American Empire, French Provincial or Craftsman. You choose for yourself.
My living room is about 16 by 24. I have a hard time decorating this because we have different takes in my house in how to do it, so as a result, we have all sorts of stuff jammed together in an inharmonious mess.
Ideally this should be thought of as two distinct rooms. Well, I could get along fine with just that, but it would not include a kitchen and a bath. So, I thought the best idea would be to increase the length of the building to 32 feet, just twice the width. A good, compact bath can be put into just under 8 feet, and a kitchen in galley style can as well.
So I am now thinking of my 16 by 24 room for living(the attic can provide sleeping lofts for guests) and the end of the building would house the bath, closet and the kitchen. If more utility space is needed, a lean-to could be put along one side of the house for rough storage, furnace etc. this could be added later, especially if you use a fireplace, electric heat or woodstove.
In many styles, 2x6x8 would be fine for the wall studs, but in my particular style, I would increase the studs to 10 feet. More storage room, more height for a feel of space, etc. plus I love chandeliers, and they are best with a high ceiling.
In a small building, wall space is critical. Since one wall will have the utility rooms, one wall,( the North) with possible access to store rooms and perhaps the fireplace, and the third left fairly un-used for balance, that would mean that the last wall would be all glass!
I love light, but I am not so hooked on light and bright as others are. I would likely put a loggia or pergola along the glassed wall for vines to provide summer shade.
In the 32 foot room, I would like to put a partition at the 8 foot mark, with a center door. The center door would lead into an antechamber with a door to each side. One would be for the bath and one for a compact kitchen. This would end up being a bit under 8 by 6 The anteroom would house a closet against the outside wall for linens or pantry.
The rest of the room might be all french doors along the south and longest side, or a combination of french doors and floor to ceiling windows.
The opposite long wall would house a classical design fireplace, with a door to each side or a wall of bookcases surrounding the chimney breast made of kitchen cabinets on the bottom and simple shelves to the ceiling. One end of the room would be for a showy bed, the rest for a living and dining room combination.
Make all finishes from the finest sources possible. Silk drapes, oriental carpets over hardwood or marble floors, heated from below of course.
Sell everything I own and buy the best antiques possible to fill the space, except for dining room chairs and chairs meant for lounging(we do not want antiques for the items that get the most abuse and use).
Above there should be venetian glass chandeliers or period brass or bronze. All can be had reasonably if you search carefully.
An added bonus would be a very deep bay window in the middle of the glass wall, to accommodate a relatively small round dining table and chairs.
As impractical as this seems, I guess I am trying to emphasize that a small house can be decorated as a jewel box, and you can have a tiny house that can be a source of pride even when you invite the snobbiest people to your house.