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
Seeking a peaceful escape that’s both eco and modern? Look no further than Casas na Areia, a stunning place to sit back and relax, situated on the coast of Portugal near Comporta, about an hour south of Lisbon. Casas Na Areia is a collection of four thatched, sandy-floored huts nestled inside a privately owned 12,000-hectare wildlife sanctuary of Sado River in Comporta. The land used to belong to fishermen and rice farmers, where the houses were built with straw and wood back and the floors were compacted earth. The compound was purchased by a Portuguese businessman named Joao Miguel Rodriguez, who brought in architect Aires Mateus to design a renovation that stayed true to the original feeling and design while bringing features like doors, windows, and plumbing up to modern standards. He then added two more huts for a total of four, with sleeping for eight.
According to the architect, “The sand transported to the interior becomes the unifying element between internal and external worlds, making us believe we live in an extension of the natural environment. This particularity transforms the space scale and living in these houses becomes more poetic and comfortable. This project, materialized in a sequence of volumes with a minimalism and apparent weakness revealed by traditional construction that camouflages modern technology, leaves us the feeling that there is something more beyond the simplicity of things.”
The property rents for $645 USD a night in the low season, minimum three nights, and $774 USD, minimum seven nights, in the high season, from here.
When you stay at Casas Na Areia, you are living in an extension of the natural environment, especially when gathered in the communal kitchen/dining/hangout hut — the white-walled bedroom units are indeed luxurious, with concrete floors and gleaming interiors that mirror the brilliant white of the Comporta sand, but everything else suggests a seamlessness where the roof over your head is just that, a roof and nothing more.
Photos: Courtesy of Casas na Areia
This stunning off the grid cabin in the woods is owned and designed by fashion stylist and interior designer Scott Newkirk as a weekend summer getaway in Yulan, New York. The 300 square foot house has no electricity or running water, no TV, no computer. Here he can slow down, sleep late, and take his daily bath in the nearby brook. The designer had been already living close to the land on the property in a wood-frame tent but it burned down. Not long after he across a book on handmade houses that are constructed out of recovered and scavenged materials. He then decided to build a house on his property based on the same principal.
Although the main cabin is only fourteen feet by fourteen feet, it took two years and three different builders to complete; Newkirk had a hard time finding builders who got his idea for a simple, rough-hewn look. “I finally found a talented and dependable local guy, Craig Petrasek, to complete construction with reclaimed wood, extend the deck area, and build the stone patio,” he says. The traditional post-and-beam frame of the house uses old square-head nails on the exterior siding and floor, with a few modern ones for the roof. The smaller side windows are handmade, and the glass-paneled fronts both upstairs and downstairs are standard aluminum frames clad in wood. The completed complex (including an outhouse, guest house, and outdoor shower) sits on about three acres of Newkirk’s 50-acre property.
The downstairs panels slide open, and an upstairs panel pivots. To complete the indoor-outdoor feel, there is a twelve-foot strip of window across the rear with an eye-level view of the backyard.
The painting is by Diane Wiencke, who lives on Peaks Island off the coast of Maine; the wrought-iron horse came from a nearby shop.
Newkirk’s builder used aged hickory planks to fashion the ladderlike steps that lead up to his bedroom.
Newkirk uses this to heat up water for an occasional outdoor shower.
As in Newkirk’s main house, this guest cottage has no insulation in the walls and the windows are simply screens; it’s furnished only with two cots and a vintage George Nelson bench.
From June to September, Newkirk bathes in the same spot every day (he uses biodegradable soap).
Photo Source: New York Magazine