Before and After: A Rundown Cabin Is Reborn as a Chic Residence and Retreat

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
A 1970s Canadian cabin is transformed into a modern home with two additional rental units.

When a family of four purchased the old cedar-clad cabin in Whistler, the structure was well-sited, but in dire need of repairs. While they originally intended to tear down the home and rebuild it on site, Vancouver–based firm Stark Architecture brought forth another plan. The team advised the owners to renovate and extend the existing structure, and integrate additional complexes on the property, which could serve as rental units. 

The Drifter Way House, as the project is called, now consists of the original three-bedroom primary residence, along with a rentable three-bedroom suite, and a rentable two-bedroom building. "Tying the buildings together was tricky," explain the architects. "But the use of standing seam metal and more industrial materials, along with a small amount of warm wood, complements the traditional shapes of the existing cabin." Scroll ahead for a fascinating look at the project before and after the revamp. 

Before: The Residence

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A look at the original 1970s cabin as viewed from the lower east portion of the property. Much work was needed to tidy up the hillside site. 

A look at the original 1970s cabin as viewed from the lower east portion of the property. Much work was needed to tidy up the hillside site. 

After: The Residence

The exteriors of the two structures, the updated cabin, and the "modern box" addition were tied together with a standing seam metal facade. This helped give the connected complex a contemporary, industrial-inspired vibe.

The exteriors of the two structures, the updated cabin, and the "modern box" addition were tied together with a standing seam metal facade. This helped give the connected complex a contemporary, industrial-inspired vibe.

After: The Extension Site

The sloped walls of the original home were integrated and combined with the extension. This was done via the connection of a double-height entry and a second-floor bridge. 

The sloped walls of the original home were integrated and combined with the extension. This was done via the connection of a double-height entry and a second-floor bridge. 

The intention of the design was to tie both spaces together into one very modern house that retains a link to its past.

The intention of the design was to tie both spaces together into one very modern house that retains a link to its past.

Before: The Kitchen

Before the renovation, the kitchen was dark, cramped, and in desperate need of updates.

Before the renovation, the kitchen was dark, cramped, and in desperate need of updates.

After: The Kitchen

Now, the kitchen is virtually unrecognizable. 

Now, the kitchen is virtually unrecognizable. 

The owners wanted to create a space that was livable, yet one where they could also easily entertain.

The owners wanted to create a space that was livable, yet one where they could also easily entertain.

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White interiors and ample glazing now make the space feel open and bright up. Blackened beams pick up on the industrial aesthetic of the exterior.

White interiors and ample glazing now make the space feel open and bright up. Blackened beams pick up on the industrial aesthetic of the exterior.

Before: The Dining Area 

The dining area was also very dark and cramped. 

The dining area was also very dark and cramped. 

After: The Dining Area

Floor-to-ceiling windows offer sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, with interesting views from every angle.

Floor-to-ceiling windows offer sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, with interesting views from every angle.

White walls serve as a gallery to display the owner's personal art collection.  

White walls serve as a gallery to display the owner's personal art collection.  

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Stark Architecture, Inc. , David Arnott

Builder/General Contractor: Balmoral Construction, Marc Harvey

Structural Engineer: Twin Peaks Engineering, Ben Towsey

Interior Design: Downey Design, Brittany Downey

Photography: Krista Jahnke