Well-loved for decades, this 1,000 square-foot mid-century cabin, nestled in the pines of the Saint Croix River bluffs, was always self-effacing. For the owners, this cherished family retreat was about being at the river, not inside the cabin. The original kitchen was tiny and had no connection to the living area or the views of the river valley beyond, and no indoor dining area meant all meals were taken on a screened porch, rain or shine.
After a burst water pipe ruined much of the building, a renovation and addition were in order. We were asked to reconsider the cabin’s size, use, and aesthetic to create a welcoming family haven that would engage its surroundings and provide shelter, but wouldn’t be the center of attention. Our charge: to celebrate past memories made and to rethink the retreat for generations to come.
A desire to maintain the outward focus, easy living, and low maintenance that had endeared the original building to the family drove many of the design decisions. In order to preserve the desired mid-century aesthetic, many characteristics of the house—such as the large windows to encompass the view and the “prow” emphasized by the angled panes—were kept intact. A 320 foot addition carefully and intentionally emulates characteristics of the original house. Large expanses of glass now capture and elevate views of the scenic landscape, and the soaring roof of the addition takes its shape from the original structure and features a renewed and extended cedar ceiling throughout. Thoughtful space planning, along with the addition, had a profound impact; the house feels twice as large as its former self—every inch is more usable.
The main floor living room provides desired entertaining space and a screened porch and elevated deck offer welcoming connections to the outdoors. Redwood from the original outdoor dining deck was milled to create the kitchen island – homage to decades of memorable meals past.
Working within the Scenic River Byway national guidelines, the building is now an integral part of its context. The result is a clean, uncluttered, contemporary shelter in the woods.