Big Vision, Small Footprint

Big Vision, Small Footprint

By Dylan Roche | Photography by Steve Buchanan



Sometimes home design can be hampered by restrictions and restraints that loom as potential deal breakers. But when the right creative minds collaborate in the design process, those restrictions may just demand greater imagination to achieve the dream result. In the case of the Annapolis home of Dana and Scott Schuetter, certain restraints were undeniable. Despite being a brand-new house on an empty lot, county zoning permitted they could work only within a very specific footprint due to environmental concerns.

However, when you step inside the Schuetters’ front door, you’d never be able to tell.

“This is not a gargantuan lot,” says Craig Martin of SPIRE Architecture, who collaborated on the project with co-principal architect Kurt Shepard and Aaron Drummond of TailorCraft Builders. “You have certain restraints, a certain size, certain everything, and we still got this house on it.”

The house boasts approximately 3,600 square feet of actual living space, even though it sits on a footprint of about 1,200 square feet—1,600 feet if you count the garage. But by devising ingenious ways to arrange the living space and make the most of the footage they had available, all while staying within the Schuetters’ budget, Martin and Shepard achieved a home that feels neither cramped nor overblown.

The main floor living space flows from foyer to living room to dining room to kitchen in a way that tricks a person into recognizing them as distinct spaces, even with an open floor plan. Part of that comes down to invisible lines—for example, the way the kitchen island marks where the kitchen ends and the dining room begins.

There’s also subtle distinction thanks to the use of color. The living room is painted in Sand Dollar, while the kitchen and dining room are painted in Quiet Moments, both by Benjamin Moore. The front office off the foyer is Shaker Gray, and the mudroom off the kitchen is Beach Glass, also by Benjamin Moore. These variations on gray, with undertones of blue and green, look similar enough at first glance, but they distinguish each space from the others.

They also create a calming effect, according to Dana Schuetter. “My goal was calm and soft,” she says. “I wanted the colors on the wall to be muted so I could play with my art. I enjoy local artists so much, and I wanted the art to speak. I wanted the wall paint to blend into the backdrop.”

Adding to the home’s feeling of openness are the 6-foot windows throughout the main living space, providing plenty of natural light. This was especially important on the second floor, where each bedroom has natural light coming from two sides, giving them what Martin describes as a “corner office effect.”

“A room buried with only one window would create a cavernous effect,” he says. “And physically for the eye, the brightness of the window contrasted with the darkness of the unlit, shadowed portion of the room creates a drastic difference and a stark contrast, making the room feel too dark, and the window feel too bright.”

Everyone involved with the project, including the Schuetters, agrees that the success wasn’t just about creativity—it was also about collaboration. In some cases, that meant the owners agreeing to stretch their budget to meet the architects’ expertise. In other situations, it meant the architects selectively deleting or moving things to fit the budget without hindering the effect of the finished product. “It’s important that client and architect have a trust level,” Shepard says. “It’s about personalities.”

And in this project, those personalities created the right home with the right atmosphere and the right amenities—all in a space where other minds might not have been able to imagine it.



ARCHITECT: SPIRE Architecture,, Annapolis, Maryland | BUILDER: TailorCraft Builders,, Severna Park, Maryland


© Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 13, No. 4 2022