We’re excited to showcase Swan Studio by Flavin Architects, the winning home in the Small Modern Cottage category of our 2024 Your Modern Design Awards Competition.This category celebrates new modern cottages that are small and efficient but still accommodate a very comfortable, modern lifestyle. We capped cottages in this category at 1,600 square feet.

A Compliment to an Iconic Property

An artist, approached Flavin to design an accessory studio/living space and carport that echoed the modern aesthetic of their 1949 house designed by architect Sarah Pillsbury Harkness in famed Six Moon Hill – a community of mid-century modern homes – in Lexington, Massachusetts. 

A National Historic Landmark, Six Moon Hill was developed in the late 1940s and early ’50s by The Architects Collaborative (TAC). Every one of its original homes survives—though all have been expanded and updated over the years. Harkness (1914–2013), a founding partner at TAC, designed three residences at Six Moon Hill.

Leaving the original Harkness house undisturbed, Flavin designed the 709-gross-square-foot studio as a separate building in the garden to the south of the house. Stepping down with the natural slope of the land, Swan Studio connects seamlessly to its site.

A Retreat

The homeowner desired a space removed from the main home that felt like a garden retreat designed for dance, art, reading, study, and friendship. It has been used by the family as a flex space for artistic practice, dance practice, birthday parties, and sleepovers.

From the 526-gross-square-foot carport, a stair descends toward the studio and custom stainless steel hot tub from Diamond Spas, meeting footpaths that branch into the garden and yard.

A Modernist Aesthetic

With vertical board siding and flat roof, it echoes the modernist aesthetic of the main house and neighborhood. Carefully choreographed gaps in the boards welcome light into the carport by day and in the evening, allow for a lantern-like glow.

The architects angled the studio to offer a visual connection between it and the house, so it beckons the family outside to a space of creativity and respite.

The modern approach includes an exposed concrete block foundation, creating a harmonious set of structures. 

“The simplicity of the work was refreshing,” notes Randall Kipp of Kipp Architecture and one of three judges for the competition. “Nothing complicated, no dramatic overhangs, nothing forced, just simple design with simple materials used thoughtfully.” 

Simple Design

According to the Flavin architecture team, “Pursuing a simple design was an active choice. The simplicity of the studio, as well as choosing to design a harmonious set of structures (the original home and the newly constructed studio), highlighted the natural landscape and demonstrated how it could become an essential part of their relationship.”

“Our client says that the studio is a serene and open oasis surrounded by garden which has brought the whole family hours of satisfaction and happiness. We felt like it particularly represented the values of YMC because for the family, the space has become much more than a physical dwelling, it offers a special experience of simplicity and connection.”

Within the studio, white oak hardwood floors and tall ceilings are a response to the family’s request for a space to practice dance. 

The studio’s interior is airy and spare; the end of the building is a large wall of Marvin windows with wing walls on both sides that help keep the focus on the forest setting. This carefully considered framed view out into nature creates a respite for quiet contemplation.


Siding – Vertical exterior timber battens from Accoya Samitto with a burnt finish from reSAWN Timber Co

Flashing – Copper flashing

Windows – Marvin aluminum clad windows

Foundation – Exposed concrete block foundation 

Hot Tub – Diamond Spas custom stainless steel hot tub

Landscape – Landscape design by Jonathan Keep Landscape


Floors – White oak hardwood floors

Art Studio Kitchenette Backsplash – Heath Ceramics, Crease Out and Crease In, 3×9 G12.2 Seafoam

Bath Below Window – Heath Ceramics, Oval, 3×9 G22 Opal Blue

Bath Side Walls – Heath Ceramics, Classic Field, 3×9 G22 Opal Blue

Light Fixture – Heracleum III LED Linear Suspension by Bertjan Pot for Moooi

Wood Stove – Basis of Design, Spartherm Modulars M700 Modular Woodburning Stove

Hearth Extension material – Montauk Blue Slate from A&B Marble and Tile

Millwork – Custom fabricated by the General Contractor, paint grade finish in Benjamin Moore White Heron OC-57


– 709 gsqft studio

– 526 gsqft carport

– .53 acre property

Photography: Nat Rea