Love the idea of camping, but not the reality? Then well-appointed cabins that give you expansive views of a scenic setting are exactly what you’re looking for. A boutique hotel called Piaule Catskill in Catskills, New York grants its guests an opportunity to commune with nature without sacrificing the comforts of home – or, ideally, while eclipsing them. Designed by Garrison Architects and created by Nolan McHugh and Trevor Briggs, Paul Catskill features 24 wooden cabins, each of which has its own massive floor-to-ceiling window to take in the wooded landscape.
The cabins are set adjacent to a main communal house and spa, accessible via short footpaths from the parking lot. Each one measures 375 square feet and includes its own ensuite bathroom with heated floors, organic linens from Portugal, Japanese glassware and minimalist furniture. The wall-to-wall glass end of the cabin slides open to offer direct access to the outdoors, making the bedrooms feel like a screen porch. “These windows are designed to present visitors with the sensory atmosphere of outdoor camping from the comfort of an indoor cabin, and awe them with views of the sun setting over the picturesque mountains,” say the architects.
The cabins themselves are made in modular wooden sections transported up the site and craned into their locations for minimal site disturbance in order to protect local wildlife. Some of them can be connected together with a “joiner” living room to create two-bedroom suites. Inside the main house, guests can lounge, dine, drink at the bar, read and gather by a fireplace. The spa offers a steam rom, sauna, massage, yoga and fitness room as well as a hot tub overlooking the western view.
“The Piaule Landscape Retreat encourages visitors to continue their exploration beyond the hotel grounds, which are meant to be traversed on foot with nature trails that loop in and out of the surrounding woods and wetlands. There are a wide range of hiking and other outdoor adventure opportunities nearby, and the small city of Hudson, New York is within a 30-minute drive. The landscape hotel is designed to foster interaction among visitors in communal spaces, while allowing them to relax at the spa and retreat to private cabins, providing an ideal getaway amidst the scenic backdrop of the Catskill Mountains.”
For a long time, modular buildings didn’t have the greatest reputation. Many people associated them with cheap, lightweight steel structures that fail to stand the test of time, looking shabby in just a few years. But today, the process of prefabricating sections of a building in a warehouse and transporting them to the site for assembly has evolved, incorporating many different types of materials and adapting to exciting new designs. Modern modular buildings are often more environmentally friendly than conventional construction, as well as faster and more economical to build.
There’s one thing that many modular buildings still lack, however, and that’s a sense of warmth and character. When a structure sits so lightly upon the landscape that it seems almost ephemeral, it needs some solidity and connection to nature to make it feel grounded. That’s where wood comes in. This vacation home by Chilean architectural studio Max-A demonstrates how wood (specifically pine) can make a building feel so much more comforting and welcoming than if it were made of colder, harder materials like steel, glass and concrete.
Located on the edge of Chile’s fourth-largest lake, the Casa Tobita home was designed to be easily constructed by local builders on a tight budget using local materials. Lead architect Noguera Balmaceda chose pine because it’s locally grown and harvested, affordable and adds texture and character to both the interior and exterior. The pine-clad volumes are elevated off the ground and placed several feet below the separate roof structure, protecting them from the weather.
All of the interior spaces are lined with pine on the floors, walls and ceilings, stained in different tones for a natural, organic-feeling color palette that complements the views out the many windows. Outside, the pine siding is treated with a gray oil stabilizer that protects the wood and gives it a dramatic blackened appearance.
“By designing with modules, we not only reduce waste but also accelerate the construction process, making it possible to have the finished home in short time frames,” says Balmaceda. “Using predefined measurements allowed us to work with locally produced wood and play with fitting programmatic needs into these dimensions while not losing spatial quality.”
What would your dream getaway in the woods look like? If you love a combination of rustic charm, modern amenities, luxurious details, plenty of space for the whole family and gorgeous scenery, this Canadian log cabin paradise might be right up your alley. Featured in Log Home Living, the country retreat overlooks a lake near Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec.
The house was originally custom-designed and built by local log home builder Patriote Home for a Norwegian family, which explains all the fairytale Scandinavian touches.
“Tucked in one corner of the garden, a playhouse that looks as though it was plucked from a fairy tale is the spot the couple’s two young grandchildren gravitate towards most during their visits. The Scandinavian-style structure was built from a kit that the previous owners had shipped over from Norway. The 15-by-15-foot, well-insulated building includes electricity, elaborately carved details and, topping it all off, a grass roof that keeps the interior warm in winter and cool in summer. When the grass gets too long, the owner climbs onto the roof and trims it with a weed-eater. The same type of eco-friendly roof covers the detached garage, as well.”
New owners Mario Lavoie and Carole Rousseau were in love with the 20-year-old Eastern White Pine log home, and added some personal touches of their own, hiring an interior designer to bring in just the right mix of contemporary furnishings. The front of the home is stunning, but the back is clearly the star of the show: it features floor-to-ceiling glass on the two upper levels and a second-story deck overlooking a gorgeous terraced garden.
Learn more about why so many builders choose Eastern White Pine for timber frame structures.
With the global pandemic limiting travel, domestic vacations and road trips are the way to go – for now, at least. A company called Getaway makes it easy and affordable to escape into nature for some relaxation or reconnection with a loved one. They have 80 small cabins situated in clusters of 20-30 on woodlands outside major cities like Boston, New York, Washington DC, Charlotte and Los Angeles.
Their newest cabins, Getaway Asheboro, are set in North Carolina and made with Eastern White Pine. All feature giant picture windows, kitchenettes, private bathrooms, campfire circles and views of the trees. Each cabin is set at least 40 feet from the next, offering a place where guests can immerse themselves in nature as effortlessly as possible. There’s no wifi, so you’ll want to bring your books, art projects, notebooks or just your desire to veg out in a distraction-free space. In fact, a latched box inside each cabin encourages you to put away your phone for the duration of your visit.
Inside, all that Eastern White Pine creates a space that feels clean, airy and harmonious with the setting. You’ll find a dorm-size refrigerator, two-burner stove, cookware and some basic grocery items like oatmeal and pasta, a shower, a toilet and a comfy bed. Each cabin measures about 8 by 20 feet and costs $100-$200 per night, and access is provided by a punch code received online prior to your visit.
Cabins are available with enough space to sleep two to four people, and you can reserve several adjacent cabins for larger groups, though founders Pete Davis and Jon Staff say this isn’t the place for parties; the use of “indoor voices” is recommended.
When it comes to vacation homes, the outside is just as important as what’s inside. Indoor/outdoor spaces and outdoor living areas let us enjoy the setting, whether it’s the woods, the beach, a ski resort or a quaint village. The more decks, terraces and porches, the better, right?
A family retreat with an unusual look offers a brilliant balance between bright, cheerful and comfortable indoor areas for family gatherings and all the outdoor space you could ask for. Designed by Austin architecture firm Low Design Office, the 2900-square-foot home features a wrap-around second floor deck, a third floor terrace with views of the woods and several covered areas under the house. All that, and it was completed on a tight budget.
“River House” has its primary living areas elevated one story above the ground. The slatted timber volumes it sits on provide storage and give the home the feel of a treehouse. Low Design Office designed and built it for three siblings who wanted to use it as a gathering point for their families on the Guadalupe River Floodway in Texas, so the design is functional in other ways, too. It’s made of wood sourced from local timber suppliers.
“The house is comprised of two generic rectangular forms rotated to weave around existing trees while maintaining river views. The rotated geometries act upon one another, defining living space and carving out porches in a fashion that strengthens both the connection between the two volumes (guest bedrooms and main living spaces) and the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces.”
“Floor to ceiling sliding glass doors and exterior glazing over hardi panel serve as the connecting elements, wrapping the living space with transparency at the interior while reflecting nature at the exterior. Clerestory windows in the double height living space look onto a rooftop deck outside the ‘kids’ loft at the floor above. Serving as the builder for the project, we took advantage of deals on materials where we could find them; all the interior wood finishes are off the shelf products from lumber suppliers, and we collaborated with small Texas shops for affordable windows and sliding glass doors.”
The warmth of Eastern White Pine gives the interior of this writing retreat in rural Vermont a cozy and welcoming feeling. Designed by architect Milford Cushman and built by Montpelier Construction, this three-level home is a green cottage crafted with sustainability in mind, the compact 16-by-40 footprint fitting neatly onto a steel hill on a small parcel of land.
The vacation home was designed for a pair of academics and writers who wanted a custom-built retreat on a budget, maximizing warmth and light from the south despite the north-facing layout of the site. It features an open floe plan on the central level, lots of glass for looking out onto the landscape, and an entry-porch covered by a shed roof.
The builders chose Eastern White Pine for the floors, ceilings, cabinets and trim, leaving these surfaces minimally finished to let the wood’s natural beauty shine. Based in Vermont, Cushman Design Group frequently uses this local and eco-friendly material in their designs, including the beautiful barn-inspired Goose Farm residence.