The Sea Ranch Cabin designed by Frank / Architects inhabits a draw in the redwood forest at The Sea Ranch a planned community located in Sonoma County, California. Approached from the road below, a path winds through trees up the side of an incline to where the house steps in two directions up the slope. From a porch, which glimpses a view up the center of the draw alongside the house. Stairs ascend inside along the wall towards great panes of glass , which frame a view of massive trunks rhythmically pacing in clusters up towards the far ridge.
The form of the house derives from its place on the hillside. Its roof slopes fold on a diagonal to shape the view along the long slope reaching up into the forest in one direction and to climb perpendicularly up the sharper rise on the southeast towards a small clearing The volume created by the sloping roof provides for sleeping and bathing places, a view up into the surrounding trees and access to a nooked terrace off the bedroom.
From the top of the stairs the space widens to create a living/hosting area opening through glass doors into the forest ahead and set among hefty round wood columns inside that echo the trunks on the hillside. A benched area to the right creates a gathering place next to a wood stove that can rotate and steps rise into a sleeping area, which is veiled by carved wooden screens that once had their place in a family home in India.
The house takes its character from the site, with the siding boards, inside and out, reaching vertically like the trees, solid round columns continuing the upright presence of the trunks inside and the filigreed wooden screens from India carrying an intricacy of detail that relates to the lacey undergrowth of the forest Strategically placed high windows and skylights open views to tree tops and drop feathered light and sun from openings in the sky above into kitchen and stair areas, enlivening surfaces throughout the house.
Photos: Frank Domin
The Crow’s Nest Residence is a three story ski cabin that stands at the top of Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, California, designed by BCV Architecture and built by Mt. Lincoln Construction. This 5,600 square foot ski-in/ski-out can enjoys breathtaking panoramic views from almost every room in the home, including beautiful views of Castle Peak to the Northwest and Mt. Judah to the Northeast, viewed thru its corner bedroom windows. The board-formed concrete podium anchors the cabin into the hillside, allowing the steel, glass and wood structure to emerge above the snow line. A double-height living room sits at the center of the home, and features large south-facing windows, a grand stone fireplace, and log columns that reinforce the cabins place among a cathedral of trees. The year-round south-facing deck features a hot tub, fire pit and outdoor dining table for slope-side family lunches.
The highest placed lot to the adjacent ski hill, the residence maintains a sense of tranquility from its forested aspects to the West and South.
Photos: Courtesy of Mt. Lincoln Construction
Pine Forest Cabin cantilevers over a hillside offering unobstructed mountain views in Winthrop, Washington, designed by Balance Associates Architects. In order to meet the client’s budget goals, an efficient plan and cost effective selection of building materials reduced construction costs and led to the simple 850 square foot box design. The use of sheet materials both inside and out maximized material efficiency while emphasizing the simplicity of the cabin’s form.
Two concrete walls cradle the box and allow it to cantilever over the hillside, reducing effective site disturbance. Elevating the cabin allowed for unobstructed views down slope and to the mountains beyond, transforming a modest living space from ordinary room to a viewing platform that extends from inside to out.
This project demonstrates Balance Associates Architects’ belief that architecturally interesting solutions can be achieved for budgets of all sizes without sacrificing quality or aesthetics.
Photos: Steve Keating Photography
The Ranchero is a modern ski cabin designed by CAST Architecture nestled at the edge of a subalpine meadow in the small community of Mazama in Washington State’s the upper Methow Valley. The Ranchero is a base camp for a family of four, offering year round outdoor adventure and a social hub for gatherings of friends and family. The architects responded with a simple, rugged design that is responsive to the environment and low on maintenance, letting the family focus on the outdoors. The open plan home offers 1,600 square feet of living space plus 800 square feet of covered outdoor space.
The deep veranda, over-sized entry and ski wax room provide family and guests a functional landing zone between activities.
A view from the south shows how the house is split into two components linked by a single sloped roofline. To the right is the 1,400-square-foot main house, and on the left is a 200-square-foot sauna. The sauna area includes a covered wooden shed and a wax room for preparing skis in the winter.
A simple material pallet focuses on highly durable, low maintenance solutions such as Cor-ten steel siding, aluminum clad windows and a concrete skirt that protects the structure’s base during the winter snowpack and spring snowmelt cycle.
With a spine that is aligned along an east west axis, the home is designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain in the winter while minimizing solar heat gain in the summer.
Crisp white aluminum ceiling panels reflect light into the home and help blur the line between the indoors and outdoors.
The plan emphasizes simplicity, abundant natural light and a strong connection to the surrounding peaks and adjacent aspen grove. The public wing features an open floor plan with an expansive patio that sets the stage for relaxation and socializing. The corridor beyond the kitchen leads to the three bedrooms as well as the bathrooms, laundry and a small office.
Made from low-maintenance, paint-free aluminum panels, the white ceilings reflect sunlight into the home to make the interior brighter and less reliant on artificial lighting throughout the day.
The furnishings throughout the house pick up on the ruggedness of the architecture as well as the character of the landscape. Mild steel and integrally colored fiber cement panels clad the interior walls for a durable, paint free finish.
Peeling of steel also occurs at the entry, creating a shelf for keys, wallets, hats and so forth.
Low VOC finishes, concrete floors, and a heat recovery ventilator insure clean and healthy air.
Many of the unique details that take advantage of the materials are very subtle. In one corner of the kitchen, for example, the steel peels up to hold chalk for writing notes or drawings pictures on the wall.
The home features regionally crafted custom finish details, casework and furnishings throughout.
The private wing offers a master suite with an extra day bed, a ship’s berth inspired bunkroom, and peaceful getaway nooks.
Built at a modest scale with super insulated walls and ceilings, energy efficient windows and systems, the home is intended to minimize energy consumption.
A balance of rugged materials, a simple plan and clean lines help focus this mountain retreat on the place, people and adventures.
Photos: Courtesy of CAST Architecture
Nakai House is a cabin designed and built by eight architecture students from the University of Colorado in the southwestern Utah desert for for poet, farmer and entomologist Lorraine Nakai. The design of Nakai House was inspired in equal measures by her love of the land and literature. Under the guidance of tutor Rick Sommerfeld, the students teamed up with charity DesignBuildBLUFF, who regularly work with students to provide housing for some of the 2.4 million Native Americans that live in dilapidated or overcrowded housing on tribal land. The 745 square foot home set in the Navajo Nation was completed in an impressive 180 days for with the use of recycled materials at a cost of only $25,000!
A study in efficiency in both energy use and space, the home is defined by a 50’-long bookshelf that allows Lorraine to show off her large, eclectic book collection while separating an open space for working and entertaining visitors from Lorraine’s more private living spaces. The public zone of the floor plan constitutes an open space subtly layered to provide three zones of privacy. A ribbon window next to the kitchen table frames the nearby Cedar Mesa perfectly, while a window seat projects outward beneath the shade of a tree, providing Lorraine with many places to read, write and be inspired. The fireplace, an integral part of the Navajo Culture, further denotes the transition from the public to the private.
The team were tasked with replacing the home of Lorraine Nakai, an avid collector of books, ornaments and other memorabilia. “When we met her, she had her collections piled and dispersed within her old house. She expressed a strong desire to be able to showcase her eclectic collections in her new home – they were truly a part of who she was,” explains the team.
Rather than a conventional bedroom, Lorraine’s bedroom is merely a sleeping nook nestled within the bookshelf. For her guests, a lofted sleeping space above the library can be accessed by climbing a hand constructed ladder. The ‘stepping’ floor plan provides panoramic views of the northern mountains, while the western splash window frames views of the desert landscape.
The house was sited perpendicular to the three existing buildings to create a communal courtyard. Opening to the south, this exterior courtyard provides cool breezes in the summer while shielding the harsh western winds of the winter. In response to the geomorphology of the site, the roof gestures up to a lone tree on the northeast and the nearby hill to the southwest. A parabolic roof that seems to move with the wind and the surrounding dunes rises above a rainscreen made from reclaimed spandrel glass that reflects the desert landscape. Vertical tongue and groove cedar wraps the house above the band of glass and abuts to the knife edge overhang of the corten steel roof.
Fitch Bay Cabin is the personal modern rustic cabin of interior photographer Jean Longpré and Rosalie Clermont, situated on a large woodsy plot in Fitch Bay, a small town in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, about two hours from Montreal. After years of photography beautiful homes, the photographer knew exactly how he wanted his own getaway to look. The photographer spent two years collecting materials for his 1,900 square foot, two bedroom, two bathroom dream home, picking up items locally and gathering special pieces like a porthole window. The home was built in 2000, costing approximately $250,000 Canadian, including major clearing of the land and preservation of the trees
Longpré is proactive in ensuring that his home is both practical and beautiful. The kitchen island was originally designed with cupboard doors, but those were eventually switched into drawers, “which now works well and looks even better,” says Longpré. He also shifted the butcher block countertop to create a seating area at the end, filling in the gap with a piece of stainless steel countertop. Clermont is comfortable walking around barefoot thanks to the heated brick floor.
The interior was painted by hand in a high-gloss white paint, creating a bright interior where the sunlight bounces off the walls, making the home feel lively. Despite its modest size, the cabin feels larger, thanks to the open staircase, open floor plan, soaring ceiling and reflective white wall paint.
The interior incorporates design elements that are predominantly European, with tall casement windows and a heated brick parquet floor. Bricks were also used to build the fireplace, which, Longpré says, has no mantel “to make it look European.” He added casters to the furniture in the living area so that the layout can be easily rearranged.
Longpré custom-designed the five-seater benches to go with the solid oak dining table he found at an antiques store. The wooden cabinet holding their dinnerware is from the same store and was originally used in a hospital in the nearby town of Magog.
Longpré designed the top floor to maximize the space and maintain an airy, loftlike feel. The combination headboard and shelving is actually the back end of a walk-in closet.
The bookshelf holds a curated collection of objects and reading material. The iron railings on either side of the platform are covered with wire mesh — a solution to meet safety requirements — which adds to the industrial vibe of the space.
Longpré designed the bedroom area with French doors that open onto a balcony. The concept behind the bedroom was that on warm summer nights, the bed — which is set on casters — could be wheeled partially or completely outdoors for sleeping under the stars.
The upstairs floor is covered with red pine and finished with varnish. The floor extends all the way to the bathroom area, which is raised and covered in white penny tile.
The other side of one of the two walk-in closets serves as the vanity area for the master bathroom, which was done all in white to keep the space bright and clean. French doors on the opposite wall open onto a small porch.
Longpré designed the walk-in closet area out of pine, with sliding doors made to resemble barn doors. An antique porthole window is built into the floor. “I thought it was a fun way to incorporate this interesting piece into the home,” he says.
Although this guest bedroom is in the basement of the home, you wouldn’t know it. Longpré designed the house and landscape around the idea that most rooms should have access to the outdoors. Accordingly, the brick floor in this bedroom extends outdoors onto a small patio.
When Longpré built the cabin, a screened-in porch was an important factor. “With a porch, you can virtually be outside, comfortably, any time of the year,” he says.
Longpré built this fire pit using rocks found on the site. It’s now a favorite gathering spot for friends and family members.
Inspired by the architectural styles Longpré admires, the cabin is designed to resemble a traditional New England saltbox, with a very simple structure and steep, sloping roof. The horizontal pine planks are stained black to give the house a dramatic, Scandinavian feel. A Juliet balcony affords a gorgeous view of the surrounding landscape.
Photos: Jean Longpré
Village House was designed as a weekend retreat for a young family in northern Sjælland, Denmark, designed by Powerhouse Company. The house is an exploration on the possibilities of the Summer cabin, the traditional Danish vacation home. While keeping the cabin’s footprint small, spatial as well as sustainable, there is a wide range of spatial possibilities, by using a five-fingered floor plan.
The 1,184 square foot (110 square meters) house is a cluster of five wings, like miniature cabins. These fan out like a hand spreading five fingers over the site, generating a variety of views, light effects and outdoor areas. This variation means the house provides an enjoyable environment all year round and at all times of day. For example, a large window above the living room allows sunlight to bathe the dining table at around midday.
Summerhouses are traditionally family spaces, but when children grow older they need more independence from their parents. Hence the ‘village of cabins’ organization, with radiating individual spaces that are united in the centre. Each member of the family effectively has the option of privacy when they need it. Meanwhile a star-shaped central space, uniting the living room and kitchen, forms the shared area which nevertheless offers pockets of seclusion to spend time alone while still in the family circle. This solution faithfully reflects the rather different desires of the family members. One wanted a picturesque, cozy and archetypal summerhouse, while another wanted a spacious and contemporary feeling. Both desires are united in the design.
In basing Village House on the classic Danish summerhouse, while adding modern ideas of space, Powerhouse Company has created a contemporary harmony. The elementary wooden structure has a pitched roof, and it is black, the most discreet color in nature, like the dark shadows in the surrounding woods. Inside, the uniform white surface maximizes the northern light.
The rustic but modern solution is low maintenance, which is more important for a holiday home than offering lots of space. From an architectural point of view, its close relationship to the context is especially significant in a holiday home. The house contrasts with the routine home of the clients, and provides the basis for a separate lifestyle. Isn’t that what we are looking for when we go on holiday?
Lodgepole Retreat is a Rocky Mountain, Colorado getaway designed by Arch11, taking its simple form as a modern response to simple mining structures of the area. The single roof plane efficiently manages the snowfall at 9000’ above sea level while serving as a platform for the 10kw photovoltaic system that, along with an electric boiler, an air to air heat exchanger, and LED lighting, allows this 2,200 square foot house to operate at net zero energy use each year. An open-plan, glass-enclosed great room gives the sense of living in the out of doors while each private space offers carefully-framed views of specific parts of the alpine setting. All construction assemblies and materials are designed to meet the strictest fire-resistant codes.
What started as an intimate 2 bedroom, 1-1/2 bath cabin for a Colorado couple and their grown children, grew to 3 bedrooms and 3 baths when they began to consider space for their grandchildren. The couple had owned the property for years-spending weekends there as their two children grew from toddlers to teens. A 1960’s-era stone cabin sufficed, until the pair decided they wanted something more enduring. Having previously seen an Arch11-designed house, the couple decided they wanted a contemporary cabin. The homeowner’s wish was for unobstructed views of the majestic Rocky Mountains that surround the site. The pristine setting includes a 30 acre meadow and high alpine forests, which suggested for a design solution that should be as light on the land as possible. So light, that the owners wanted to get as close to net- zero as possible and be nearly maintenance free as well.
The living plane is elevated above the ground on a poured-in place concrete pedestal to heighten the experience of floating above the meadow. Floor to ceiling glass offers occupants an almost cinematic experience of the diurnal rhythm of the earth.
Sustainable features: Energy model was net-zero energy use, High performance, triple-pane glazing 10 kw solar array, Solar thermal system, Electric boiler with ceramic storage for radiant heat system, Natural ventilation, Large overhangs for shading, Concrete with fly-ash content, FSC-certified lumber, Formaldehyde free cabinets, Energy Star appliances, LED lighting.
Photos: Raul Garcia
This stunning family vacation cabin is perched on the shores of beautiful Lake Okanagan, in Naramata, British Columbia, Canada. This summer retreat has been designed by interior designer Robert Bailey, as a family’s “dream-come-true.” Inspired by client sketches and the surrounding geography, the lakeshore project was designed from the ground up, working with an architectural designer to implement the vision. The family is exceedingly active, so there is nothing in the home that is precious or requires a lot of maintenance. The home is the center of their summers, and is on the lake, so it needed to welcome those who can swim, run, cycle and kayak, as well as the stream of sandy feet that are the mark of summertime in the Okanagan. The home also needed to have flexible entertaining and sleeping space to host family and friends who come to stay. The open concept design allows for free flow of people and activities.
The result is a modern home that remains true to the idea of “cabin,” being humble and unpretentious. We used French oak on the ceiling and floors, the pre-distressed, fumed planking provided relaxed yet durable surfaces. Forgiving, not precious, it is the strongest design material in the home. Our goal for the furnishings was to achieve a sense of simple luxurious comfort, that feels curated rather and designed. The design of the home blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor living. The walls seem to evaporate as you move to the terraced grounds. There, sumptuous, weather-protected lounge chairs surround a fire bowl, while lighting and audio-visual controls extend the home to the edges of the property. The result is a home to last for generations. It is contemporary, relaxing, rugged, durable, flexible and unpretentious both inside and out with a defined purpose for summertime pleasure.
Photos: Josh Dunford
Chalk Hill Off-Grid Cabin is a straw-bale getaway home for a San Francisco couple and their two active boys, located at 4,300 feet elevation in the wilds of Nevada County. Designed by Arkin Tilt Architects, the 872 square foot residence mediates the northern edge of a forest glade, with driveway access and entry against a steeper slope to the north. The entry/mudroom, bath and mechanical space are located in the wood-framed, wood-sheathed piece. One open living/dining/kitchen/bed room is half a level lower, accessing a terrace at grade, opening to the glade and sun from the south. One sleeping space is located in an open loft above the kitchen which provides additional sleeping space for kids and guests, and the other is a more intimate queen bed sized sleeping bay along the opposite edge of the living room.
The metal roofs, earth-cement on bale walls, and fire safe perimeter aim to survive a wildfire,
Solar hot water collectors provide domestic hot water as well as space heating by flowing the heated fluid first through a heat exchanger and then into tubing buried in a 3 foot bed of sand beneath the floor slabs.
Queen-sized sleeping area in bay.
P.V. Panels on the roof harvest electricity, stored in batteries at the house, powering the well pump and other domestic needs.
One sleeping space is located in an open loft above the kitchen.
Photos: Eric Millette Photography