entry are made from a pink granite unique to Rhode Island, and were
found at a farm in nearby Tiverton. (A fourth was uncovered on the
property and turned into a lamppost.) And while Neil shaped them
using a traditional feather-and-wedge technique, all cuts and splits
were made on the back of the pillars so that they are out of sight.
“I wanted to give it a little movement,” says Neil, who describes
the configuration as similar to a Japanese torii gate.
With a mantra of “Celebrate the stone,” Neil finds his
muse in the materials, allowing the shape of the rocks
themselves to guide the composition. All the while, he
is carefully keeping the “integrity of the face of each”
intact. This traditional stone-on-stone engineering is structurally
sound, but to ensure the cottage will be as timeless as it looks, Neil
added mortar to the back of the wall.
The sides and back of the two-story structure, which is built into
a slope, are clad in stained pine board-and-batten. Pine also lines the
interior walls and ceiling, accentuating the cabin-like feel. Perched
above the valley, the 400-square-foot top floor offers the sensation of
being in a treehouse, with picture windows providing excellent views to
the changing seasons and wildlife below. (Turkeys, deer, and raccoons
are regular visitors, as is a snapping turtle that comes to lay her eggs
each spring.) Below, a walkout storage room and potting area, accessi-
ble only by an exterior door, is well used by the owner, an avid gardener.
To the east of the cottage, Samantha created a wildflower meadow
with native grasses, blueberries, and magnolias. Beyond it, a large
kitchen garden was revamped with granite-framed raised beds.
“We design for plant communities,” says Samantha, whose plan
for the larger property integrated several native species such as mountain laurel, foam flower, and Christmas fern among existing plants. “We
think about layers above and below the soil and creating environments
that support both soil and plants.” The cottage also pleasantly complements the property’s main house, a post-and-beam Acorn structure. Mission-style furnishings and favorite books make the space personal. And although the shed has electricity and a pellet stove, no television or Internet is allowed.
“We try to create retreats in people’s lives,” says Samantha,
“whether it’s a patio or a shed, where they can disconnect from the
technological distractions of life and get in touch with nature in their
backyard.” Here, the Bests have literally carved that guiding philosophy in stone.
built into the sloping landscape, the cottage has a walkout basement (top
left), which the owner uses for storing garden tools and supplies. Granite
planting beds (above right) are used to grow vegetables and flowers. Rustic
pieces (above left) give the interior laid-back appeal. The stone facade blends
into the landscape (facing page, top), while a welcoming stepping-stone path
(facing page, bottom) wends its way through native plantings.