Shed Retreat

This small, off-grid, family retreat is perched on a dramatic bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Due to their plans for extended travel, the clients decided to delay construction of the larger home and focus on making the shed/bunkhouse into their interim getaway. At only 720 square feet (20’x20’ footprint) this getaway for a family of five had to make efficient use of space and resources.

The retreat is nestled at the edge of a small hillside meadow with great southern exposure providing ideal conditions for passive and active solar strategies. An off-grid 700-watt solar power system provides all the electrical needs for this simple rustic getaway.

The design goals were ‘small, simple, affordable, beautiful’. In order to achieve this Solterre started with the floor, wall and roof assemblies that would be simplest to build for a seasonal structure. Consequently the design highlights the standard Canadian 2x6 stud construction by exposing all the framing on a simple slab on grade foundation. Plywood sheathing with one good finished face to the inside brings a new take on the traditional timber cabin. Solterre worked closely with the builder to make sure all the framing was simple and cleanly assembled. 2x8 blocking in the stud cavities and Baltic birch plywood boxes make simple integrated shelving that blends with the ‘woody’ aesthetic. Polished concrete, salvaged doors, and a funky bright orange sheet metal round out the simple material palette.

The open concept living space, efficient three-piece bathroom and mechanical closet make up the main floor. Two sleeping spaces are located on the upper level and a small loft is tucked in the roof peak. All the spaces have views of the ocean and ample daylight. The solid timber flooring of the upper level is cut away along the south wall to allow light to spill down from the upper windows. The bay window in the children’s room makes a cozy seat to curl up in. The clients have furnished the rooms with eclectic pieces including dining table and chairs made from Indonesian fishing boats that were wrecked in the 2004 tsunami. A tiny wood stove will keep everyone cozy throughout the year.