This Modern 500-Square-Foot Cabin Folds Up When Not in Use

Washington State's San Juan Islands — three hours north of Seattle — offer lush campgrounds, orca sightings, and lively harbor towns. Basically, it's the perfect place to disconnect. Which is why we're fully envious of the owner of this 500-square-foot cabin, designed by Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig as a private writers retreat.

In order to build a cabin that could complement the scenic landscape, the team created a glass house with floor-to-ceiling windows. Three exterior wood panels on each side of the home drop down to reveal the windows and can be used as decks. Inside, the cottage features a rotating fireplace and Murphy bed, which make the setup extra-customizable.

modern cabin
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credit: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

"Parts of the cabin are intentionally exposed, and others are protected, enclosed, and intimate," said Tom Kundig, lead designer on the project.

modern cabin
credit: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

While the shutters offer privacy and shade, they also have a more functional purpose: The clients wanted a home they could easily secure when not in use.

modern cabin
credit: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

The modest cabin consists of a single room, a bathroom, and a kitchenette.

modern cabin
credit: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

The midsection of the home features rectangular windows that allow nature on both sides to remain viewable.

modern cabin
credit: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

The furnishings are simple and modern — perfect to decrease distraction on a writers retreat.

living room
credit: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

In the living room, a vintage Knoll sofa was reupholstered in Glant fabric.

living room
credit: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

The oak floors feature a black steel inlaid detail that accentuates the structure's linear aesthetic.

bedroom
credit: Tim Bies / Olson Kundig

The unit housing the Murphy bed also provides streamlined storage.


Kate Santos

Kate Santos

After interning at Dwell magazine in San Francisco, Kate began writing about arts, design and culture for other national publications. She is based in Los Angeles and San Francisco.