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Clever Remodel of a 1920s Cabin: Honoring Location and Legacy

3/15/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: remodel, cabin, woods, living space, ventilation, recycled materials, storage

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailI would move in to this house today, if I could. Beautifully situated among shady firs and redwoods near Santa Rosa, California, this 1,275-square-foot 1920s shingle-style cabin was remodeled to make it more conducive to entertaining and open up views of the nearby boulder-strewn creek—without disturbing the beautiful riparian area that it sits on.

Because stringent regulations limited new construction on the previously disturbed riparian area under the cabin and allowed no more than 33 percent more square footage, architect Amy Alper captured space from an underutilized exterior deck to create a 311-square-foot double-height living room within walls of glass. New structural steel beams and posts, set at previous deck support locations, carry a cantilevered floor that gives the home’s occupants maximum living space without disturbing the site.

The original cabin exterior is preserved and featured as a backdrop to the new living room space. Original windows playfully connect the kitchen and living room. Reclaimed wood-clad beams mediate between the old structure and the new, visually echoing the surrounding woods beyond. A freestanding fireplace lends warmth to the cool views, while window walls showcase the swirling waters below.

 alper backview before 

BEFORE the remodel, the home was inconvenient for entertaining and turned its back on the beautiful creek. 

alper backview after  

For the remodel, the new foundation sits where the old posts for the original deck (now dismantled) had been, so the home does not disturb the riparian area.  

 alper front before 

BEFORE: The home was closed up and not well-ventilated. 

alper front after  

The new double-height living room addition wraps the original exterior. Weathered shingles and period windows remain. The home is clad is Forest Stewardship Council-certified rough-sawn plywood. 

 alper addition 

In the addition, recycled beadboard and reclaimed beams complement the original features, and window walls showcase views to the swirling waters below.  

alper stair  

I love this storage idea—perfect for smaller homes. 

Photos by Eric Rorer 

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