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Cabin Addition – August 15, 2014

 cabin napkin sketchMy approach to residential design begins by thinking about the overall completed composition.

New design should complement and enhance the existing structure, not merely add more functional space.

Paying attention to the overall form of a building will help determine the scale of new construction. Careful material selection which matches the existing building in texture, color, and detailing help to create continuity making the finished composition appear clean and uninterrupted.

Recently, a new client requested an addition to a 19th century log cabin in a wilderness setting overlooking a private lake.  The main room of the cabin functions as a venue for gatherings such as wedding receptions, private parties, and business retreats.  Support for these functions is provided by a small kitchen and two small bathrooms housed in a previous addition.  The owner wanted to expand by providing options for overnight accommodations with an addition of sleeping rooms and private bathrooms.  The architectural challenge and the client’s desire were to add more space without compromising the historic beauty of the original structure with a “tacked on” addition.

With a quick sketch, I proposed an idea that would extend the new addition at the rear of the building.  Following the example of homes built in the 19th century by Appalachian settlers, the new addition stands independently but is connected by a covered breezeway, creating a dogtrot-style cabin.  This approach serves two functions: 1) it minimizes disturbance to the existing structure: and 2) it maintains the concept of authenticity for a wilderness cabin.

The new breezeway between the two buildings provides additional activity space where visitors may hang rain-soaked jackets or sit on benches while gathering fishing gear for a day on the lake.  As can be seen in the sketch, the main circulation path becomes the dogtrot breezeway providing entry into either the lodge facilities or sleeping quarters.  This configuration also maintains the cabin’s front porch privacy and preserves the view of the adjacent lake and forest.

When considering any building addition, the best approach is to allow the existing construction to guide your thought process.  Matching the existing style through similar trim detailing, building massing, and window and door placement will also help to create an efficient, aesthetically pleasing product.


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