A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life

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By Kelly Dawson
A dated property in the mountains of Big Bear, California, is upgraded to highlight its stunning A-frame design with some simple updates.

An escape to a cabin in the woods usually feels like a removal from routine—find yourself far away from the busy, fast-paced, and often crowded surroundings of everyday life. But Courtney Poulos’ classic A-frame house on a shaded cul-de-sac in Big Bear, California, was something different: it was a time machine back to the '70s. "There was lots of worn-out carpet," Poulos says. "It just looked tired and needed a facelift."  

Before

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 1 of 12 -

After

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 2 of 12 - "It was built in 1973," Poulos says. The property is minutes from the slopes and village that make Big Bear such a popular vacation spot. 

"It was built in 1973," Poulos says. The property is minutes from the slopes and village that make Big Bear such a popular vacation spot. 

The angled exterior, with its sharp form of two triangles that jut toward the sky, was painted in a one-dimensional shade of brown that matched the tree trunks and dusty ground around it. Inside, the many large beams that support the structure disappeared into the walls of the same natural hue, and a well-worn couch slumped across from a hearth propped on mismatched brick. 

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 3 of 12 - Four hooks and a bench, both from CB2, create a small, dedicated entryway next to the front door. 

Four hooks and a bench, both from CB2, create a small, dedicated entryway next to the front door. 

Poulos, who owns ACME Real Estate in nearby Los Angeles, aimed to transform the 880-square-foot cabin into a modern getaway without abandoning its midcentury feel. "We wanted to create a handsome space full of butterscotch and whiskey undertones, dark woods, and light accents," she remembers. But Poulos also couldn’t let some real-world challenges spoil her future vacation home, either. She only had five weeks and $40,000 to make these changes, and all materials had to be hauled up to the mountains from the city.  

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 4 of 12 - Picks from West Elm furnish much of the living space, including the chandelier, coffee table, and rug. A leather Article sofa sits next to a pendant light from Anthropologie. 

Picks from West Elm furnish much of the living space, including the chandelier, coffee table, and rug. A leather Article sofa sits next to a pendant light from Anthropologie. 

Almost every part of the home received an upgrade. In the living area, the wood beams were painted a rich ebony hue to distinguish its striking details, and the matching hearth’s brick base was covered with raven hexagonal tiles that allude to those in the bathroom. 

Before

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 5 of 12 -

After

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 6 of 12 - Two matching Article side chairs face the sliding door leading to the deck.

Two matching Article side chairs face the sliding door leading to the deck.

The solid wood cabinets in the kitchen were salvaged—there just wasn’t enough time or budget for new ones—but raw-edge open shelving, Calacatta countertops, and hand-finished subway tiles were installed with new appliances to add a lightness to the corner location. "The refrigerator is black, which I wouldn't usually choose, except that it's the first thing you see when you walk in the door, so we wanted it to blend in seamlessly," she says.  

Before

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 7 of 12 -

After

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 8 of 12 - "We saved the cabinets—just repainted and chose new hardware," Poulos says. A CB2 pendant and runner add color and texture to the space. And another CB2 find, the bar cart, sits beneath the stairs. 

"We saved the cabinets—just repainted and chose new hardware," Poulos says. A CB2 pendant and runner add color and texture to the space. And another CB2 find, the bar cart, sits beneath the stairs. 

Before

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 9 of 12 -

After

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 10 of 12 - "We wanted to create a bohemian feel in the bedroom and the loft spaces," she says. "We went with a speckled carpet for the upper level and just let the textiles work their magic on the bedspreads and pillows." Macrame wall hangings found on Amazon complement the diamond-shaped detailing on the Anthropologie throws atop the twin beds. 

"We wanted to create a bohemian feel in the bedroom and the loft spaces," she says. "We went with a speckled carpet for the upper level and just let the textiles work their magic on the bedspreads and pillows." Macrame wall hangings found on Amazon complement the diamond-shaped detailing on the Anthropologie throws atop the twin beds. 

The bedrooms take on a different personality than the common spaces. If the living area is sophisticated, then the sleeping quarters are bohemian. Patterned textiles and saturated colors give them an eclectic effortlessness, which is then balanced by the minimalist bathroom. "We also pulled in as much light as possible," she explains.  

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 11 of 12 - CB2 was also a major furnishing source in this bedroom, as the lighting and matching patterned pillows were found there. The striped throw at the edge of the bed is from Etsy. 

CB2 was also a major furnishing source in this bedroom, as the lighting and matching patterned pillows were found there. The striped throw at the edge of the bed is from Etsy. 

When the renovation was complete, Poulos realized how an otherwise dated cabin of the past could find such simple avenues into the present. "You don’t necessarily need to limit your creativity to a conventional cabin design," she says. "It was a treat to maintain the balance between the vintage architectural space and the modern finishes for a covetable end result."  

A 1970s A-Frame Cabin in Big Bear Is Brought Back to Life - Photo 12 of 12 - "We borrowed from a bohemian look for the bedrooms, and opted for a rustic look for the bathroom," Poulos says. A West Elm mirror above the sink adds to the charm. 

"We borrowed from a bohemian look for the bedrooms, and opted for a rustic look for the bathroom," Poulos says. A West Elm mirror above the sink adds to the charm. 

Project Credits:

-Developer: The Delve Group 

-Interior Design: Nicole Palczynski of Vein Design

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