Design inspiration from some of the West’s most creative personal getaways.
Written bySunsetJune 21, 2010
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A-frame in the woods
When Jason and Laura O’Dell found this 1963 A-Frame at the edge of Big Bear Lake in Southern California, it was in rough shape. A major inside-and-out renovation later, their weekend retreat is now a chic, modern take on a rustic cabin.
Soaring white walls and architectural lines are balanced with modern cabin decor. A bright palette, mixed prints, and various textures maintain visual interest throughout the home. And a sense of playfulness permeates, in features such as the indoor swing hanging from the conducive exposed beams.
Chad and Lara Hogan discovered this 1,800-square-foot cabin home while hiking in L.A.-area Topanga Canyon. Perched on a hillside, the home's abundant windows and multiple porches afforded amazing views that made the for-sale sign hard to ignore. They purchased the home and then set out to modernize it, while still thoughtfully preserving its original character. Just one example of how they refreshed it: updating the exterior by replacing its original bright green exterior with a blue-gray with white trim.
The Hogans were immediately attracted to the living room's unique industrial-style fireplace and sought to design around it. Animal-print textiles and a shag rug add soft touches to the space.
A San Francisco couple discovered a 1885 former homestead in Sonoma County's Glen Ellen, and decided to revamp it on their own. Maintaining the structure's integrity was paramount, and it took a year of weekends to transform the space.
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One of the major facelifts involved stripping out the rotting kitchen and dining room flooring and replacing it with pine planks.
Designer Tim Pfeiffer and his partner, Matt Carvalho, had been searching for the idyllic vacation home for years before stumbling upon this Vashon Island, WA gem. In its original state, the house had a number of problems ranging from chipped paint and peeling linoleum flooring to a disarray of decorative styles. The couple spent a year renovating it, and the result is a cohesive and timeless design that pays homage to the house's historic charm while still keeping it rooted in the modern era. For example, what was once a covered front porch is now a cozy window seat that overlooks the sound, capitalizing on the home's waterfront location.
The decor benefited from Pfeiffer's expertise. While he chose furnishings from various eras, the house's clean lines tie the look together. Nautical touches and antiques are sprinkled throughout as loving nods to the house's setting and past.
Jen and Kirk Schumacher transformed their weekend house in Washington’s Methow Valley into a full-time home that married her traditionalism with his more sparse style. Seattle architect Thomas Lawrence melded their vision to create a small house on the 1-acre lot. In addition to a small footprint, the couple also wanted their home to be environmentally friendly. On-demand hot water, electric in-floor radiant heating, and ceiling fans in lieu of air-conditioning keep energy usage down.
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Recycled cabin: Living room
A board-formed concrete fireplace features an efficient Morsø wood-burning stove and a handy niche for storing wood. The concrete floors were dyed to create a mottled appearance and to complement the reclaimed wood of the coffee table (fashioned from a railroad car) and the cabinets in the adjacent kitchen.
Harry and Claudia Bray's cabin on Washington’s Key Peninsula is a low-profile retreat. Natural materials and expanses of glass give it a rustic yet modern feel, allowing it to blend into the surrounding forest.
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Dreamy modern cabin: Master bathroom deck
A long exterior porch spans the kitchen, effectively doubling the room’s square footage. A cantilevered roof allows for a deck on top of the home. And the master bathroom opens to another cantilevered deck. “It’s something a native Northwesterner might not think about,” Harry says. “Even in winter when it’s storming, we can have the bathroom door open to the deck, like a hot tub.”
Celeb designers Cortney and Robert Novogratz took their design savvy to the next level in their 5,000-square-foot vacation home in Trancoso, Brazil. Balancing a laid-back vibe with the needs of a family of nine (the couple has seven children), they strove for design elements that pay homage to the home's exotic locale and also infuse the space with a sense of playfulness. Take this amazing 600-square-foot treehouse on the property, built using local materials and featuring a staircase that wraps around an existing tree. It's easily the family's favorite spot to hang out.
Aside from the treehouse and pool, the designers made sure to incorporat plenty of zones throughout the home where their brood can kick back (or even nap). Low-slung couches topped with cozy, removable cushions were the perfect choice for lounge seating.
The siren song of sunshine drew Portlander Marc Walters to buy a vacation home in Palm Springs. He discovered a gem of a home in the form of this 1960s rancher that just so happened to have appeared in a 1966 issue of Playboy. Originally built as a bachelor party pad, the home featured a master bedroom separated from a living room only by a rotating fireplace and shoji screens, a well-stocked wet bar, and a master bath featuring a sunken terrazzo tub. After some renovations, the house retained some of its original character while forging ahead with modern design elements, like floor-to-ceiling windows looking onto the pool and a stunningly landscaped front yard featuring hearty desert plants.
Wooden accents were a prevailing theme in the home's renovation. In the living room, that theme is best seen in the hand-built African teak wall, complete with a custom, set-in fireplace. To complement the wood, interior designer Sam Cardella balanced masculine, classic pieces in soft tones, such as these quilted lounge armchairs and leather swivel chairs.
A shabby 1970s A-frame got an A+ upgrade. In the cabin's great room, the rafters and beams were all stained black, a disco-era fireplace that blocked the view was torn out, and a the new hearth made of Sierra white granite was installed.
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Tahoe cabin remodel: Timeless kitchen
The original kitchen had been a mess: painted-over particle-board cabinets and drawers that would jam halfway closed. The makeover elevated the room from sad to chic.
This family getaway near Twisp, Wash., is the perfect example of how to make the most of a limited amount of space. From outdoor living rooms to creative sleeping solutions, every square inch has been put to use.
Mariah Morrow and Ryan Lingard make the 6-hour drive from Portland to their mountain cabin at least four times a year.
The cozy adventure outpost—just 130 square feet plus a deck—is the perfect jumping-off point into the wilderness near Joseph, Oregon.
Ryan Lingard and Mariah Morrow built their tiny cabin for $57,000, including the land. They call it The Signal Shed.
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Tiny DIY cabin: Inside
The materials cost about $10,000, with windows from a center that recycles building parts. Other thrifty choices include Ikea cabinetry and laminate flooring. They found the barn door hardware and the woodstove—the cabin’s only source of heat—on Craigslist.
The family that designs together, vacations together. The Robertsons live this tenet to its fullest by enjoying frequent family reunions at the Whidbey Island, WA vacation home they designed and built together. Parents Don and Suzy plus their sons Nick and Chad, daughters-in-law Isabelle and Emily, and two granddaughters have been making memories there together ever since.
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Prizing locally sourced materials, flow, and natural light, the home's design makes its inhabitants feel like they're seamlessly indoors and out. The large common room (which contains an open living room, dining room, and kitchen) has a natural extension in the form of the adjacent front deck.
This prefab cottage from San Francisco-based firm Modern Cabana is a readymade solution—it could be used as a simple, sleek vacation home or as an easy way to add some square footage to an existing home.
When Jennifer Jenkins and her husband, Noah, bought this cabin in Alaska, it was literally falling down. The porch had collapsed, the basement walls had rotted, and a hemlock tree was growing through the roof.
The staircase is an example of how the Jenkins creatively incorporated seaside details into the design and decor of the cabin: Old salvaged oars become handrails and complement the white beadboard walls.
Who among us hasn’t dreamed of an idyllic cabin in the woods? Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has fulfilled that fantasy for the owner of this rustic-meets-modern two-bedroom getaway sited to maximize the sylvan surroundings, a two-hour drive from Seattle.
Indoor and outdoor rooms, linked by a “boardwalk,” frame gorgeous vistas of the Wenatchee National Forest from multiple angles.