A Little Spot in the Woods.

Eidolon has been working on a little log cabin in Whittier, North Carolina. The cabin is designed to meld the rustic and the modern on a moderate budget. The design, done entirely by Ann, was meant to accommodate her aging mother, who enjoys spending her summers at her home just up the hill. This idea for a little spot in the woods was birthed from a circumstance we will all find ourselves in at some point. Ann’s mother, June, lives just next door to Mike and Ann here in Raleigh for most of the year. Watching June navigate the small bungalow next door with its high cabinets and small quarters got Ann thinking about how challenging it must be for older individuals to find comfortable living space. What if there were smaller  homes designed for older people where they could be independent for longer? She says, “I wanted to design a space that was proportional for a single person and that is built well and efficient in utility, space, and mobility. A space designed so they can reach linens and towels and don’t have so much space that it’s uncomfortable.”  This cabin offers her mother a place to age independently “in a space that she loves more than any place on earth.”
Collaborating with her brother, Steve Cowperthwaite of Marcobay Construction, and Tidewater Lumber they have transformed the property that June purchased many years ago. When her father’s farm in Pennsylvania was reclaimed by state government for a water reservoir, June decided to reinvest her inheritance from that land into North Carolina farmland and now resides on an 80 acre tract consisting of two horse pastures and which functions as a tree farm, growing white pine for lumber. She lovingly named this space “The Cove.”

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Ann and Steve made the decision to start construction as soon as possible so that June could enjoy the building process this summer. The caretaker who will be living in the home has kept her horses in these pastures for the last 20 years. Although the intention is to have her reside here for many years, we designed the home to be functional and comfortable for two people. There is a private master suite and guest bedroom, each with a full bathroom. In the master bathroom we have chosen a double sink vanity to accommodate two people. We have also designed two sliding wall-hung doors and are making the sliding mechanisms in our shop. These doors give the option to open up the space with minimal square footage required.
The challenge in designing this home was to provide the basic comforts in a simplistic, navigable floor plan, while marrying the modern and rustic aesthetic. With exposed log walls, this meant incorporating materials besides wood to prevent the space from feeling too confined. To keep the cabin affordable we’ve made a few sensible decisions. Cost minimizing choices included acid-etching the concrete slab floor, putting tin on the covered porches and shingles on rest of the house, purchasing the bathroom vanities, and opting for painted cabinet frames and wire mesh paneled doors. To keep the kitchen spacious, we chose to hang open shelving rather than install upper cabinets. For this we will hang Eidolon’s Hub Shelf. The kitchen countertop, which spans 15′, is made of a green material called Forbo Marmoleum. To minimize plumbing the house is designed so that all of the water connections are centrally located. All of the water is supplied to the house by well. 
One of the spatial challenges Ann wanted to conquer was lack of storage in a house with a small footprint. This house is approximately 1,200 sq. ft. There is a 8′ x 19′ unheated storage room lined with shelving to accommodate camping equipment, canning materials, gardening tools, etc. To heat the home they chose to install a gas log fireplace with a 35,000 BTU output in the living room in conjunction with a heat pump. The open floor plan allows warm air from the fireplace to travel uninterrupted through most of the house.
Ann also wanted to emphasize exterior living space, as this is what drew June to this location to begin with. It is also an aspect of the home that frequently gets sacrificed when downsizing. There is a large L-shaped covered porch that spans the width and length of the house, nearly 52′. This deck can be accessed by three double doors in the living room. There is an 8′ portion of the patio which remains uncovered to create a sun porch. Between 15′-20′ of land surrounds the house for potential landscaping. A small tobacco barn original to the property lies just past the caretaker cabin and is now used for wood and equipment storage. Plans are to install a split-rail fence along the berm just beside June’s house.
The house is constructed of 6″ x 6″ white pine logs, which were chosen to match the existing main house where June resides. The standard 8″ x 8″ logs seemed disproportionately hulking for the small footprint of the cabin, but the smaller logs will require added insulation in the attic. The logs are extremely protective against the wind. They are seated upon each other using a tongue and groove system with foam insulation strips on each tongue. Every 12″ there is a 24″ bolt that passes through one log to the next. To achieve the length needed the ends of the logs are joined using a butterfly rib.
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Things are moving quickly with hopes to complete the cabin by Thanksgiving. We have commissioned a few local craftsman to construct the house and have been so impressed by their attention to detail and skill. We are grateful to the local superintendent, Ronnie Cook, as well. His wife makes one hell of a biscuit.
We want to know what you think! Would you like to call this cabin home? We only ask because maybe you can some time soon… More to come on that!