Douglas Burdge has placed a couple of cabins, built with reclaimed wood and some salvaged accents, on his land in Idaho.

Architect Douglas Burdge escapes from L.A. and welcomes friends to his Sun Valley ranch whenever he can. The tiny guest cabins where they stay, which are manufactured homes made to look like rustic cabins, are as inviting as it gets.

Christine Lennon  – August 31, 2021

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Architect Douglas Burdge and his family have been escaping to Sun Valley, Idaho since 2006, when Burdge bought a contemporary house on the Snake River with land that stretched out for a few acres. Back home in Los Angeles, Burdge was known for building spacious and impressive homes throughout Malibu and West L.A. (including some of our favorite Idea House projects). Up in the mountains, however, some of his favorite projects are much, much smaller. To accommodate a steady stream of visiting family and friends, he designed and ordered customized accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, manufactured by the Pioneer Cabin Co., or PCC.

“This was my first foray into building charming log cabins,” he explains. And owing to some well-chosen surfaces and fixtures, they look like they’ve always been there.

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Burdge did some consulting and design work with the Pioneer Cabin Company before he decided to build one of his own.

MK Sadler

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“I met the owners of P.C.C., Paul Conrad and Riley Buck, here in Idaho and started working on some sketches for them,” says Burdge. “Paul is a general contractor in the area, and he was seeing an increased demand for these manufactured ADUs.

“The business of building for prefab has expanded all across the country,” Burdge adds. “The demand has really exploded for this kind of thing.

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The one-bedroom, one-bath structure has a sitting area and a small coffee bar for guests. An antler chandelier is practically mandated in this part of the country.

MK Sadler

When people think “prefab” they typically imagine boxy, modern structures, or traditional modular homes. But there’s a growing market for more rustic looking cabins, and in places where it’s difficult to find labor and construction crews for a custom-built home, manufactured housing is a great solution. Other companies in the region have sprung up to meet the demand, including Adobu in Redwood City and Tustin, California, as well as Modern Cabin, and Riverside Cabins in Montana, and the exceedingly stylish Backcountry Hut Co.

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To give the cabin some vintage charm, the Burdges installed a second-hand clawfoot tub and vintage door in the bathroom.

MK Sadler

“The entire structure is built offsite and transported. It’s all built inside of a warehouse, so you don’t have delays because of rain, sleet, or snow. It’s a much faster process,” Burdge says. Homeowners just have to have a foundation poured and provide electrical and water hookups before the house is delivered on a flatbed truck. “They can assemble it in a day and you’re living in it 24 hours later,” he says. Inspections are completed at the factory, so there are no delays on that end.

To give the cabin some rustic, authentic charm, you can customize finishes and the style of wood. Burdge and his wife chose barn wood siding and oak floors, and they installed a claw foot tub scavenged at a garage sale and a reclaimed wood door to the bathroom to give it extra vintage charm. Burdge is preparing his property for a family wedding and has started designing a barn that will be built and assembled in a similar way.

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The snug sitting area is just big enough for two armchairs and a reading light.

MK Sadler

“If you use older materials, you achieve that rustic patina instantly,” says Burdge, who now spends as much time in Sun Valley as possible, “living the Idaho lifestyle.”

He also notes that Pioneer Cabin Co., and other prefab businesses like it, are seeing increased interest from hotels and lodges to build these kinds of structures as guest rooms. There are options to build an entire home with a functioning kitchen and off-grid capabilities—on a budget, delivered to your land, with very little construction required.

“When I look out in the backyard and see this cute cabin, it looks like a piece of sculpture to me,” he says. “You can buy something off the shelf, but if you can really customize something to look unique, it makes a big difference.”

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