A Virginia Cabin Is Proof You Can Do Modern Design on a Tiny Budget

Photos by Ansel Olson
modern cabin
credit: Ansel Olson

If Virginia is for lovers, then a hand-crafted, galvanized steel home, created by onSITE Architecture for a couple with a baby on the way, is perfectly situated in Stuart, an idyllic small town in the western part of the state. Nestled on a plateau in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the cozy, 800-square-foot home is a modern take on the country cabin. The exterior facade, clad in a flat-lock steel envelope, reflects the blue-and-green beauty of the landscape.

The family had a limited budget and felt a need to build a place somewhere removed and away from technology. Inspired by the agrarian sensibilities of farmers in the Appalachian region, the firm built the two-bedroom cabin with century-old ideas in mind. According to onSITE, the problem with newer methods is that the gaskets fail and expose hundreds of screw holes. Instead, they employed a longer-lasting, flat-lock system for the steel exterior. By using high-quality materials and respecting old methods of building, the firm created the perfect mountain home for the young family to grow for years to come.

exterior
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credit: Ansel Olson

By deviating from the common types of foundation with constructed drainage, the firm instead built using existing drainage patterns, which minimized the building's impact on the land. Locally milled materials were used in the interior and exterior.

exterior
credit: Ansel Olson

The interior is clad in locally harvested, locally sawn maple, while plumbing fixtures and tile were custom created from HardLife Products, a concrete design studio. Throughout the home, furniture pieces were kept to a minimum, and replaced by built-ins where possible.

living room
credit: Ansel Olson

The firm proves that a limited budget does not necessarily mean having to resort to mass-produced materials and cheaper methods of building. Instead, opting for long-lasting materials and spending more time developing strategies for building can be, in the long-run, a less expensive option.

living room
credit: Ansel Olson

Despite the modernized look, the cabin was built using tried and true techniques. The result is a home that feels both modern and timeless.

bedroom
credit: Ansel Olson

A built-in bed accompanied by custom shelving was designed by onSITE Architecture. Modernity dominates the cabin's bedroom style by featuring an Eames molded plastic armchair rocker by Herman Miller and an industrial-style Emerson ceiling fan purchased from YLighting.

kid's room
credit: Ansel Olson

The kid-centric bedroom and playroom in the cabin is built around the custom desk and features a rare pop of extremely bold (but fantastically fun) green.

bathroom
credit: Ansel Olson

The bathroom is lit by industrial-style Tweak Incandescent PAR vanity lights by Tech Lighting and minimally accessorized by Ikea's easy-to-clean and uncomplicated Grundtal collection.

bathroom
credit: Ansel Olson

In the bathroom, faucets from the Moments Collection by American Standard has a sleek design. The soaker tub, from the Studio Suite Collection, is also by American Standard.

exterior
credit: Ansel Olson

The firm doesn't view sustainability as a trend and instead embraces environmental stewardship as part of all good architecture. When the clients detailed their desires and challenges ("rustic Appalachian style, nothing extravagant, more space"), the firm chose to embrace the "elegance of economy" found in older buildings in the area.

exterior
credit: Ansel Olson

Like any truly modern interior design, efficiency was most important. By dedicating time to planning, the project shines as a culmination of the region's commitment to slow architecture and, in turn, slow living.


Kate Santos

Kate Santos

Kate Santos is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles.