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
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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

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