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A Cottage Renovation for the Next Phase of Life

When you love books and playing bridge, this library is a perfect solution

When you love reading books and playing bridge, this library is a perfect solution to accommodate both hobbies.

This is a story about an old Summerville home, how it came to have a cottage and how the renovation of that cottage allowed the third generation of a family to live in the big house and the second generation of the family to begin the next phase of their life in the cottage.

Rudd and Pat  have lived for many years in a distinguished white house in Summerville’s nicest old part. Tall, with vast porches and staircases on a generous wooded corner lot, the home was the third home of Charleston’s famed federal judge Henry Augustus Middleton Smith, who retreated there from Charleston to escape the mosquitoes in the summer.

Rudd’s father, a military man, bought the home in the 1960’s and it was in this family home where Rudd grew up.

Rudd came to own the home through  kind deliberation on his parents’ part: in 1980 they offered to give him the big family home if he would build them a smaller one story cottage on the property. They were aging, they said, and the big house was just too much.

And so he did. Rudd build a 1600 square foot cottage on the footprint of of an old servants cabin on the property, where his parents lived very happy until they died a few years ago. And Rudd and Pat moved into the big house, where they also lived happily these past 30 years.

But recently, Rudd and Pat began to feel as overwhelmed by the big house and the stairs as his parents had and wished to make some changes to accommodate their hobbies as well as the aches in their knees.

They requested Swallowtail prepare a feasibility study to see if their big house could be renovated to accommodate their hobbies and lifestyle and stay within their budget. Rudd and Pat loved the design solution to renovate their home, but decided the construction costs were too high. Since they did not want to leave this magnificent property in such a wonderful location, they began to consider renovating the cottage to make it their new home. As Rudd’s parents had aged, they discovered that the design of the home was not well suited to older adults. They asked Swallowtail to prepare a new feasibility study to renovate the cottage. Happily, the budget and design for the addition and renovation met Pat and Rudd’s approval!


Rudd wanted a small quiet space where he could write without any distractions…even the distraction of a view. This cozy room suits him perfectly!


Following in his parent’s footsteps, Rudd and Pat sold the big house to their daughter and renovated the cottage to meet their needs. “We wanted to live in the same way we lived in the big house”, said Rudd, and with the 1,000 sq foot addition and interior rearrangement, “the cottage has all the functions we need. We are very excited that we remained on the property, and that the wheels have turned a full circle.”

Like many older Americans, Rudd and Pat wanted a home that would accommodate their needs as they aged, but they did not want it to look like or feel like a hospital or an institution catering to older adults.  They wanted their home to feel comfortable and personal, a perfect fit with their needs, personalities and


For the cottage renovation and addition, Rudd and Pat identified their main design goals as:

  • accommodate future needs by providing a large accessible bathroom with an accessible shower
  • accommodate future needs by providing wider halls and 36″ wide doors to all rooms.
  • provide space where they can pursue all of their hobbies. That included a large sewing and painting studio for Pat, a small writing room for Rudd and a Library large enough to fit a bridge table
  • Include a Den area in the Kitchen, and a large Dining Room where they can entertain their friends and host family events.
  • Design the exterior so it fit the character of the historic district in Summerville.

Now, if you drive past that distinguished tall white house in Summerville, you might see Rudd and

side view

The small side garden and back door fit the character of the historic district in Summerville.

Pat’s daughter along with her husband out working in the yard or doing some house maintenance work with their children, Rudd and Pat’s grandchildren. These lucky grandchildren are the fourth generation of this family to live in the big house.

And tucked to the side of the big house, you might find Rudd and Pat, sitting on their screened porch and enjoying an aperitif before dinner.  As the second generation startling the next phase of their lives in this sweet little cottage, they make change look very comfortable and easy.