One of the projects that we’ve been working on is a cabin that I have wanted to build for quite some time. My parents bought a piece of property in Massachusetts a decade ago and because of the financial crash they weren’t able to do anything with it. After being inspired by the tiny house movement, a few books and websites about cabins, and an artist couple’s own cabin project, I began to design my own cabin in the woods to build on the property.
But! Since Kristin and I have started planning our van trip, this project was put on hold. The deal we made is that we’d do the van trip together first, as long as we can make sure we’re financially set to build the cabin within five years (from about a year ago). That doesn’t mean that we’re not still thinking about and evolving our idea!
At the moment, the cabin is fairly closely based on this post from an artist couple that built their cabin on family property in West Virginia. It’s attractive because it’s a simple structure on stilts and a platform, pylon foundation, provides a ton of natural light, and was inexpensive (more on why this was kind of a lie later). I even really liked the idea of using old mismatched windows and doors to provide a sort of mosaic pattern for the facade (a la Magritte).
The idea has, however, started to evolve in our heads a bit more. The original floorplan was a simple rectangle, with only a bed, wood burning stove, wardrobe, chairs, and a table. Simple living, getting away from the city. No electricity, no internet, no running water. But, the tiny house movement has really exploded in the past few years, with other van-lifers such as The Rolling Home trying out stays at tiny house Airbnbs or hotels, and what we’ve seen has given us a number of exciting new ideas.
A recent article in ‘Slow.’ (an edition from emotion magazine) detailed Coralie Hews’ tiny house project built into an old garage. Once we saw her project, suddenly we had a ton of new ideas. Why not include a loft in our cabin? It creates more surfaces, adds interest to the space, and gives us more space to work with. Our initial design, being based on the cabin mentioned earlier, was super simple inside, but what if we also added built in custom shelves for a library, and a simple kitchen area? Don’t we want the cabin to be something you could spend time in, whether that’s to escape the city to relax, or to escape for a work retreat?
On top of that, the idea began to develop in our heads that this could just be a beginning. Could we build more cabins there? Maybe this cabin becomes a base for building the other cabins and then we connect them all with walkways like in the photo above, creating one house or cabin complex that can be used by friends and families. We had always intended to build more than one cabin, with one cabin as a bathroom/shower cabin, and another as a kitchen/living room, but why stop there? My family is relatively large and to accommodate more of them, we need more cabins. Maybe each family gets a cabin, or at least a place to build their own cabin and connect it to the network of walkways.
To get back to the tiny house movement, perhaps we also scale back down a little bit to cut on costs and then we get a little more creative with the interior space. I don’t want it to be tiny. It should be good for a family of up to 4 or 5, but maybe that means we take the ideals of tiny houses (utilizing space in the most efficient way) and get a bit more out of our cabin while keeping it airy and open.
What I suppose this all means is that we’re still exploring. The van project is opening up our eyes to a lot of different new design ideas we can incorporate into our future cabin project. The closer we get to the van, the closer we get to the cabin, and the more excited we get.