“The little deck balcony off the front of the cabin has just enough space for two people to sit, dangle their feet over the edge, and watch the ocean,” says David Battersby, the architect who designed this 360 sq. ft. cabin on Valdes Island, B.C., for his client and friend, Josh Dunford. “Just enough space” was their ethos. “Josh had a modest budget, and we went for quality over quantity,” says Battersby. The design is simple: a tilted box, slanting away from the water, which allows the roof to collect rainwater for the outdoor shower and, after eight levels of filtration, for the sink inside. The tall end of the cabin allows for a sleeping loft facing the ocean. “You can look across the water to Vancouver,” says Josh, “but you feel transported much farther away.”
The white house
Fir plywood made for an affordable option for the interior siding, painted white to keep the space open and airy. “Just one coat,” says Battersby. “You can still see the wood grain, but you don’t get the orangey quality.” Josh had the edges trimmed with a saw-cut reveal, which adds an attractive outline and allows the plywood to shift over time. Instead of hardwood floors, Josh finished the fir subfloor with urethane. He installed an inexpensive, high-efficiency Regency woodstove on top of a metal plate, routered into the floor to sit flush. All the materials were barged in to a nearby bay, then flown to the site by helicopter. “That was a very exciting two hours,” says Josh.
Room with a view
Getaway, a cabin rental company with 78 micro guest cabins tucked away in the woods, has a signature move: a 10″ memory-foam mattress that sits up against ething about that—being close to nature but also cozy and safe—it just works,” says designer Emma Picardi. Each time they build a new cabin, Picardi and her team improve upon the last design, perfecting the combo of affordability, durability, and beauty in each 176 sq. ft. space. “Using standard sizes and Ikea products, such as the stovetop, keeps costs down,” she says. “We use 3/4″ birch ply on all our built-ins, and pine for everything else, both of which are cheap and beautiful.” The team designed sliding interior wood panels, stained black, to cover the smaller windows instead of curtains. “We’re going for rustic minimalism.”
When Alysia McMenomy and her partner, Bill, went to build a bunkie on their 20-acre property, near Madoc, Ont., they found that strict zoning laws limited their options. The workaround? A yurt. “The only permit you need is for a deck platform,” says Alysia. “Suddenly we were yurt people.” They bought a used one for $15,000—including sliding doors, a woodstove, and a composting toilet— and drove it back, in pieces, from Quebec. That meant cutting up the bamboo hard- wood floor into eight 500 lb sections and carting them into place. “Moving that floor was harder than giving birth,” says Alysia. The rest was easy. “After a certain point, it pops into place from the tension,” she says. “It feels very sturdy, even during a storm. Sometimes we go out there just to listen to the rain.”