Architecture + Design

There's little right now that sounds as cozy as the interior of a cabin. Maybe it's for little more than the sake of nostalgia or the idea of some quiet serenity, but we can all get behind the idea of hunkering down in some A-shaped or otherwise small, rustic structure to watching the snow fall around us, fire blazing, blankets piled high, hot bevergage of choice in hand.

Few are immune to the charms that accompany cabin life, even if it's just for a weekend...

For just that reason, we decided to start our Cabin Fervor series. We sought to offer an occasional glimpse at the many chalets, shanties, and shacks out there, quietly dotting the sides of our mountains, often buried in few feet of snow, some creekside, and all usually privvy to kind of views that inspire poetry and novels. This time around, we decided to visit with our broker, Leigh Anne Bernal in her midway cabin. Purchased in 2019, she and her husband Jon embarked on a remodel that would ultimately open things up a touch and accomodate a bit more space for guests. They landed on something with incredible views, a distinct "home away from home" feel, and just the right amount of seclusion.

Talk to us about the search. Did it take a while to find this one? We had been looking for a cabin for our family for years. We'd actually made an offer on another one in this same area in 2017 but didn’t get it. Jon was so disappointed that we didn’t get that one…but when this one became available, I got a little more aggressive and we got it!

What made you decide to purchase this specific cabin? What was the draw? I walked in the front door and didn’t even look around…I walked straight out the back to the deck and knew this was it. The 270-degree views did it! We came to realize over the years of hunting for a cabin is that we didn’t want to be too far from home, and this one is just 45 minutes door-to-door. If we found something that was further away we just knew we wouldn’t be able to use it as much. We also learned that so many cabins are seasonal with either no, or limited access in winter. This particular one is on a paved road and we only run into access issues a few days of the year during deep-snow events. And even then, there is a parking lot at the bottom of the hill…so a little hike (at elevation it seems like a LONG hike) will get us there! And while having a cabin that is off the beaten path is nice, being within a reasonable distance to conveniences was important to us. Being able to pop into town to grab groceries or hit the liquor store is a huge bonus.

Favorite feature pre-remodel? Like, is there something you decided NOT to mess with in your renovations? YES! We absolutely love the wood stove that was in the cabin and so it had to be part of the end product. Even the large piece of limestone that it is sitting on was saved. There was also quite a debate about whether to paint the wood walls and ceilings. Ultimately, we decided not to, and we're very happy to have embraced them in the design. Finally, the loft above the second floor! Our 5-year-old latched onto this space and any changes that were contemplated had to include the loft. So, despite advice to close that space off and fill it with insulation (what???), we instead let our son take it over. It has provided so much fun, imaginative play! The addition of some railing for safety and an old salvaged library ladder that can move out of the way made it a perfect spot!

What was entailed in your remodel? Was this a full overhaul or substantially smaller? We started thinking we would just fix the stairs (they were not the most inviting) and ended up doing quite a few design changes on top of that. We replaced the old laminate floors with solid hardwood, upgraded cabinetry and lighting. So, like all of my projects it started out with one thing and then lead to so many more!

Did you come in with a clear idea on what moves to make in your updates/changes? Or was that sort of dictated by discoveries you made along the way? We knew we wanted to make it ours but were not sure just how. With the arched A-frame walls it is a bit of a challenge working within those confines. Ultimately, we did make many more upgrades than we had planned. The five most expensive words in any renovation are “while you are at it...”

Favorite room in the house, post-remodel? Where are you spending the most time, and why? Hands down, in the warmer months, the deck is where we are most all the time. It is large and can accommodate a lot of friends and family for dinner or just hanging out. Watching the wild-life, the weather, and the sun rise from the deck is just the definition of "cabin life". When it turns chilly we gather 'round the wood stove and watch the view from inside. The open floor plan is perfect for it. But one room that is pretty special is the living space on the second floor that sports the peak of the arched a-frame and the large antler chandelier. I love the way that room feels at night—both cozy and spacious.

What is it about a cabin? Nebulous question, yes...but what's your take on why they're just so damn appealing to people? I think it is a combination of things. Sometimes a change in venue can provide a fresh perspective, both literally and figuratively. It can help you get un-stuck if you are working on a project. It can give you the time and space to consider life from a different perspective. There are so many studies that validate both the physical and psychological benefits of being in nature. For our family, I hoped to provide a place to create and embrace traditions that we will happily remember for a lifetime. I also think we are more ourselves when we step out of our lives for a moment and get in touch with the parts of us that end up in the margins when we are overwhelmed with the business of our world. We bought this cabin in December of 2019—four months later our lives all changed in ways we did not see coming. With all of the uncertainty and anxiety that has been hanging over us lately, we feel so very fortunate to have this respite to escape to.

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