written by:
August 27, 2013
From a nature writer’s off-the-grid Puget Sound getaway to a Texan’s shipping container guesthouse, these retreats may inspire you to make that backyard retreat you’ve been dreaming of a reality.
Exterior bay writers cabin san juan islands

Architects Kirsten Murray and Tom Kundig built a 500-square-foot, Thoreau-like getaway for an Atlanta-based writer who owned ten acres on San Juan Island in Puget Sound. “The idea was not to clutter anybody’s thinking, especially a writer’s,” says Kundig.

Photo by Tim Bies

Originally appeared in Best in Glass
1 / 7
The studio’s redwood siding was milled from trees salvaged from a road-widening project in Sonoma County, California. The hardware, “two-hundred dollars’ worth of stainless-steel screws,” says Deeds, was purposefully left exposed as an architectural detai

On a quaint, tree-lined street in Berkeley, California, architect Sarah Deeds and carpenter John McBride placed a 120-square-foot office/art studio near their main house, a renovated 1906 Victorian, on a 3,100-square-foot lot. “Since it was a design/build project, I had the luxury of changing the project as needed during construction,” says Deeds.

Courtesy of 
© Lenny Gonzalez 2010
Originally appeared in Small Wonder
2 / 7
writer's cabin oregon

Erin Moore of Tucson, Arizona–based FLOAT Architectural Research and Design built the Watershed, a 70-square-foot writer’s retreat in Wren, Oregon, for her mother, Kathleen Dean Moore, a professor of philosophy at nearby Oregon State University and a noted nature writer.

Photo by Gary Tarleton

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Modern Off-the-Grid Retreat in Oregon
3 / 7
The storefront windows were less expensive than residential windows and provide guests with views to the grand outdoors beyond.

Years ago, Mike and Becky Johnson purchased property in Tennessee with the goal of preserving as much of the land as possible and building little retreats to rent to visitors from around the country. Though the duo are largely retired today, their daughter, Laura Lockwood, and her husband, Ryan Lockwood, run the Butterfly Gap Retreat.

Originally appeared in Butterfly Gap Retreat
4 / 7
backyard studio

When sustainable building advisor Megan Lea set out to build a backyard retreat, she knew that reclaimed materials would figure prominently into the design. What resulted is a polychrome of salvaged 100-year-old barnwood by West Salem-based Barnwood Naturals that makes the facade of this Photo by Bernard Maybeck–inspired design as unique as it is environmentally friendly.

Photo by Uwe Schneider

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Backyard Retreat
5 / 7
Tiny Studio Cabin by Hinterland Studio

An illustrator of children's books who lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia needed a quiet workspace that was nearby, but separate from, her family's bustling household. She contacted local designer, artist, and builder Riley McFerrin of Hinterland Design to replace an existing shed on her property. The new retreat is perched on top of a steep hill, and maintains the old outbuilding's 200-square-foot footprint.

Originally appeared in Tiny Studio Cabin by Hinterland Design
6 / 7
hill container studio exterior side

Texas architect Jim Poteet helped Stacey Hill, who lives in a San Antonio artists’ community, wrangle an empty steel shipping container into a playhouse, a garden retreat and a guesthouse for visiting artists. The container measures a narrow and long 8 by 40 feet. “My two young daughters love it because it’s practically an empty box ready to play, create, and pretend in,” says Hill.

Photo by Chris Cooper

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Smaller in Texas
7 / 7
Exterior bay writers cabin san juan islands

Architects Kirsten Murray and Tom Kundig built a 500-square-foot, Thoreau-like getaway for an Atlanta-based writer who owned ten acres on San Juan Island in Puget Sound. “The idea was not to clutter anybody’s thinking, especially a writer’s,” says Kundig.

Photo by Tim Bies

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

gpphoto44
A home and community celebrate natural remove in equal measure.
May 24, 2016
With our annual issue devoted to the outdoors on newsstands, we did a lap of Instagram for some extra inspiration.
May 23, 2016
forest for the trees english prefab mobile home facade chesnut cladding
On the edge of a historic park in an English shire, a prefabricated home sets a new design standard.
May 23, 2016
tread lightly australia
A family home on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula is built to blend in with its lakeside setting.
May 23, 2016
jardins party dining room hay chairs local wood floor
A pair of architects help a client carve out an oasis of calm amid São Paulo’s bustle.
May 23, 2016
hwm6zf 1
No matter where you're located or what time of the year it is, having a fireplace in your home is a treasure that’s continuously sought after. Besides the obvious benefits of keeping a fire going through the cold winter months, it can also be a cherished asset that provides an extra level of year-round comfort—not to mention how it can help define the layout of a space by acting as a sculptural element.
May 23, 2016
An office Crosby Studios designed for NGRS in Moscow
Crosby Studios just cares about the essentials.
May 22, 2016
cold sweat seattle floating sauna gocstudio
A cadre of designers let off steam after hours by building and sailing a seaworthy sauna.
May 22, 2016
in the swim off the grid campsite healdsburg california swimming pool solar heat lap pool ipe deck loll designs lounge chairs
An off-the-grid house that is little more than a decked campsite—albeit with a roof—includes a swimming pool for a family that loves to enjoy the elements.
May 21, 2016
A print by Kristina Krogh
From flat to physical, Kristina Krogh masters every dimension.
May 21, 2016
scifi
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 21, 2016
beverly hills living room piano view
Architect Noah Walker, principal of Los Angeles–based studio Walker Workshop, shares completed and work-in-progress residential designs on his Instagram page (@noah_walker). Take a peek at some of the striking modern houses here, and tour the Venice House on the Dwell Home Tours on June 26.
May 20, 2016
ripple effect san fancisco small space yard outdoor monica viarengo pebble mosiac artificial turf slide
A San Francisco landscape designer finds a small-space solution that’s anything but narrow-minded.
May 20, 2016
Oslo living room with light wood floors and wood slab table
A pair of designers in Oslo, armed with tricks for introducing color and daylight, remake their compact late-19th-century apartment.
May 20, 2016
family affair backyard addition portrait
In coastal Massachusetts, a resourceful couple and their equally enterprising children use reclaimed materials to create a versatile 168-square-foot backyard building.
May 20, 2016
speed machine australian beachside prefab archiblox facade colorbond ultra steel cladding queensland blue gum wood
With little time to waste, an Australian firm erects an efficient prefab overlooking the ocean.
May 20, 2016
Christian Benimana at Design Indaba
When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.
May 19, 2016
01 1
This Italian villa is serenity incarnate.
May 19, 2016
michael cobb interior
Alternative materials help a house in California’s wine country tread lightly on the land.
May 18, 2016
13266797 1799532953608317 1984666518 n 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 18, 2016
Industrial kitchen built on a budget.
In Austin, Texas, architect Sean Guess forges an inventive industrial kitchen for a cost-conscious couple.
May 18, 2016
great danes dining area
In an up-and-coming area of Copenhagen, a pair of designers and their twin girls inhabit a converted loft, filling it with serious design savvy and a hefty dose of creativity.
May 18, 2016
25687 preview low 1633 2 25687 sc v2com
An 1885 house in Montreal dips a little into its backyard for spare space.
May 17, 2016
modern ecoconscious pavilion walkway roof
A couple’s retirement home on a nature preserve in Carmel, California, emerges as a series of eco-conscious pavilions that rest lightly on the land.
May 17, 2016
Formafantasma's designs for Alcantara's Touching Tales
In a 17-century palazzo, two young design studios explore a very modern material.
May 17, 2016
25104 preview low 567 9 25104 sc v2com
An extended clan, separated by business, gathers for holidays at a forested getaway near Sutton, Quebec.
May 16, 2016
it takes a village exterior
A family matriarch enlisted an architect, an interior designer, a builder, and a landscape architect to help realize her vision for a diminutive, low-key lakeside getaway.
May 16, 2016
starry night light installation
A celestial light installation illuminates the garage door of a recently renovated Toronto house.
May 16, 2016
kiwis big adventure facade
Three designers jump-start their practice with an affordably built abode in New Zealand.
May 16, 2016
Once a horse stable, this Chicago house first got a superficial makeover from Oprah (we wonder whether Stedman likes modern) before architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang was called in for a more substantial renovation and a dazzlingly porous brick screen.
We catch up with the creative couple living in Studio Gang's Brick Weave House.
May 16, 2016