Nov 7, 2012

Katrina Cottages / Cusato Cottages

If you've ever seen a Katrina Cottage,  chances are you were looking at one of designer Marianne Cusato's designs.  Other architects and designers were involved in developing Katrina Cottages, but Cusato's designs are the most iconic.  There are currently 14 Cusato Cottage  models, with floor plans ranging from 308 to 1,807 square feet.  Marianne Cusato designed eight of them, while Eric Moser,  Andres Duany, and W.A. Lawrence designed the others. The number in the the model name is the number of conditioned (heated and/or cooled) square feet.  For example, the model KC 697 has 697 conditioned square feet.

Sample front elevations from Marianne Cusato's Katrina Cottage designs.
All images on this post are courtesy of

The cottages range from one bedroom with one bath and minimal kitchen, to five bedrooms and three baths, with ample kitchens and even home office space.  The largest plan still has considerably less square footage than a typical new home built today.  In my view, that's a good thing.  Keeping the square footage down also helps keep costs down, conserves resources, reduces both the literal and the carbon footprint, and is just plain good practice because building smaller is building more sustainably. 

Front & side elevations, and floor plan for for a 576 square foot model.  Note optional second bedroom.
As I understand it, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 served as both catalyst and inspiration for these modest yet dignified designs.  The outward appearance or style of the homes is sympathetic to the local design vernacular along the gulf coast and throughout the south eastern and south central United States.  The appeal however, is universal, and with modest changes, they can be easily adapted to almost anywhere in North America, or pretty much anywhere else for that matter.

Front & side elevations, and floor plan for the KC 888, an 888 square foot model.  With the optional third bedroom and utility room, it would be about 1,112 square feet.
The houses sit raised-up off the ground usually on pier foundations to protect the living and mechanical spaces from flooding, but there is no reason that they couldn't be built with other foundation types such as slab, crawl-space, or full basement foundation, depending on budget,  local conditions, and building codes.

Model KC 544.
Model KC 416.
Model KC 963.
KC 697, designed by Eric Moser.
Katrina Cottages were originally conceived of as quick to build, higher quality but still affordable alternatives to FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina. They quickly caught-on, and the model line-up has expanded to its present size   They are used as full time permanent residences, guest homes, and vacation homes.  In some instances, entire neighborhoods of various Katrina Cottage model combinations have been built.

Living / dining area of model KC 1185 or KC 1807.

Kitchen of model KC 1185 or KC 1807.  It looks pretty nice when dandied-up with hardwood floors and a granite countertop.
Katrina cottages were available for some time as kit packages sold through Lowe's home improvement stores.  Apparently that practice has been discontinued.  The plans are currently available for purchase through  Plan sets begin at $850.00.  You can connect directly to using the following link:

You can see all 14 Cusato Cottage designs (plans and elevations) and more photos at:

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