Jul 24

Dreaming of a Country House

I love living in the city and although I know it isn’t for everyone, we really thrive here. That said, I’ve been realizing lately how nice it is to get out of the city. My blood pressure goes down and the kids play differently, it feels so good! We are very far away from buying a “country house” but we have been daydreaming about buying a tiny piece of land maybe somewhere in rural Sonoma or Napa and then putting a prefab cabin on it until we can afford to build a real house. Here are two really inspiring articles that I went back and reread. They make it seem really possible. Would you ever buy a shack without running water?


1. Le Shack
I loved this story in The New York Times of fashion designer, Isabel Marant’s place just outside of Paris. It resonated with me because it is so accessible. It is a simple place (no indoor plumbing!) but it only takes 35 minutes to get there. In the article Marant explains how they don’t meet up with friends in the city, they’ll just have everyone meet up in the country since it is so close. I like the idea we could invite friends up for the day and a 35 minute drive is the same as driving across town.

2. How I Built a House in a Week
I remembered the article from Domino Magazine years ago where Cynthia Kling built a house in a week. (I found the article online here.) Basically Kling bought a $10,000 prefab kit plus a $1,500 deck and then constructed a little modern cabin in the woods on the corner of her friend’s property. What I like about this is that she built it on a budget. We could realistically build this sooner and our getaway would be more like fancy camping. Then hopefully later down the road we could build something more substantial.
This is all a few years off for us but it is fun to think about. Also, if you don’t have time on your hands be careful of the rabbit hole that is prefab homes. My aunt was in town last weekend and we stayed up late dreaming about all these gorgeous homes. Here are a couple of my favorites.
PreFab Houses Oh Happy Day


  • Karen says:

    Fun idea! And Sonoma county is the perfect getaway. Have you seen this cabin remodel project? It’s tiny and amazing. It’s not a pre-fab but is filled with great ideas. http://www.smittenstudioonline.com/category/cabin.

  • Jenna says:

    I dream of someday having a small getaway like this! These 2 stories are so inspiring. Love the idea of keeping it simple and affordable!

  • Shelby says:

    I love the idea of a little getaway from the city. Having both a city house & a country house is a perfect balance.

  • love prefab but the only catch is getting the land!

  • Rose says:

    I am the same way!! I love being in the city, but sometimes-especially in the summer-it’s good to get out for a few days and enjoy nature and simplicity and less people. I feel like I would rather just go camping and continue to save than spend $10k for “fancy camping,” though…you could rent decent cottages with running water for less and continue to put away towards a realistic, larger house!

    Blonde in this City

  • I have always loved the idea of having someplace like this where my family and I can go to away fro m the city. :)


  • My DREAM is to have a small house in the city (Toronto!) and a dreamy little cabin somewhere in the woods (access to a lake is key!) For $10,000 I feel like I could actually make this happen!

  • Amy says:

    I love these modern prefab houses. So different than the type of thing people in the south think of when they hear the term….

  • Erica says:

    I’m still trying to get my Dad to build me another “manhut” near his but even in Brianhead it would cost $20,000. Someday!!


  • Jessie says:

    We have a shared, family cabin about an hour away from our home city in Winnipeg, Canada. In the 90’s (when I was 5) we converted over to running water and I can still remember my brother and I having to haul the wagon down to the well at the end of the street to get water to boil, to drink. Now I love how short the drive is to get there and how quickly your mind relaxes as soon as you walk in the door. The cabin is just under 1000 square feet and shared by 6 – 8 adults, two dogs and two babies a lot of times during the summer. It can get crazy, but it’s also a wonderful place to sit and catch up with family. Our little cabin isn’t fancy and is mostly full of odds and ends found at garage sales or things we no longer wanted in our homes. It has many imperfections but I’m thankful everyday that we have a little getaway from the everyday.

  • Sara says:

    I love this idea! My parents bought a small piece of waterfront property about 20 years ago. It was an hour from their house and at first we would go camp on it and later they bought a small trailer that we used. Eventually they built a cabin and we all love going out there.

  • CMN says:

    Okay, it’s official… you’ve got me hooked on this idea! I could totally see pulling off something like this. Camping, but in a cabin … with a bed… yes, I could do that!

  • I’m a city girl to the T, but it would be a dream to live in NYC or SF and then have a little country abode tucked away as well. If only! Bookmarked that New York Times article – can’t wait to read it! Thank you!

    Xo, Lily on Fillmore

  • Picture B is stunning! I’ve always dreamed down the road in life that I would be able to build my perfect getaway in a cozy cottage. I love living in a bustling city but the meaning of peace and calm is only understood in the countryside :)
    Bonne journée!
    Simply Akshara

  • maggie says:

    Every day when I am working my butt off in my office, I always remind myself it is for this. One day, one day, one day!

  • I love living this way so much, that we plan to make this idea our everyday home. We moved to Petaluma last year, and we’re looking for a parcel somewhere in the Sonoma country to put down a modern prefab.

  • Jessica says:

    I also love the idea of a cabin/cottage close to the city. I never had a cottage growing up but I used to LOVE going to friend’s cottages. My boyfriend’s family goes to a cabin for a month every year and I get to go with him – so much fun!

  • Sarah says:

    Your post reminded me of Tammy Everts’ tiny cabin on an island near Vancouver – Apartment Therapy did a tour a couple of years ago.


  • I dream about this all the time too. I currently live in the city and find myself escaping to my parents ranch more often than not on the weekends. Being only an hour and a half away it is way too tempting.

    You can actually see the stars out there and never hear sirens. It’s heavenly.

  • Morgan says:

    I remember reading that Isabel Marant article when it came out and dyyyyyyying over it!

  • Excited to see the Blue Sky / Rock Reach House on here! My husband used to work with Blue Sky and we are good friends with the owner — and have been lucky enough to stay in that house may times. Did you know you can rent it on VRBO for a weekend?



    I’d highly recommend it! It’s one of the few places in the world where you can truly unwind and disconnect. I might need to pay it a visit soon… Thanks for the reminder. :)

  • this article makes me want to call friends and see how many of them would let me build a little cabin their backyard. “if you were a true friend…”

  • Sally says:

    Stay true to your dreams and they WILL come true. I live in a hot California farming valley. We have a 400 sq foot cabin in the giant sequoias just 22 mile from our front door. It is at 6800 ft and ten degrees cooler at all times. Good to think as close as you can or you will not use it enough to warrant the cost. Good Luck with your dream.

  • I am the same, love living in the city (LA) but crave CRAVE the outdoors and open spaces. So we found our tiny fixer cabin and jumped on it. During the renovation process we were sleeping in there without running water for quite sometime. Luckily we had the lake there so we could kind of “bathe” ha. :) good luck to you, I really hope you find your little getaway too!

  • I’ve lived in cities all my life and really dream of moving somewhere quieter very soon. I’ve been looking at prefab homes too! hahah rabbit hole is right, I’m so smitten! that 10 000 cottage looks great.

  • Kate says:

    I love the first one and the blue sky one. Gorgeous homes…

  • kim says:

    pretty houses! if i could ever afford it, i’d definitely like a country home & a city place…the best of both worlds :)

    midnight snark

  • little t says:

    Such a cool idea – although I don’t know if I could be without running water!

  • Oh man. I recently read the book ” The Dirty Life”, about a journalist from New York who moves to the country and falls in love with a farmer (you have to read it, her story is incredible!) and the next thing you know, my husband and I are looking to buy land in Nashville, TN. We live near the beach in Southern California.

    I recently posted about our trip to a sweet little farm in rural Georgia. It absolutely captivated us!

  • Amy says:

    Oh, man, we’re on the same wavelength — I’m in Brooklyn and just a couple weekends ago began obsessively (like, really obsessively) reading about prefab construction, with the idea that maybe, someday, we could build a little place upstate somewhere. If you feel like daydreaming more, there’s a great new book with a range of prefab homes called Prefabulous and Almost Off the Grid. Happy planning!

  • kathleen says:

    I’ve contemplated this idea as well so many times. I’m afraid to actually suggest it outloud because I think everyone’s knee jerk reaction is to poo poo it. I can certainly empathize with Ms. Kling’s frustration. But what a terrific result hers turned out to be. How satisfying!

  • I have OCD and although it’s manageable right now, having to go to the bathroom outside and not being able to wash properly makes my skin crawl. But I have respect for people who do it.

  • I love the idea of a somewhat rustic house in the middle of nowhere, but I would NEED running water and indoor plumbing!

  • When my husband and I moved to CA years ago, we really wanted to buy a tiny apartment and then spend our money on land and a weekend house. Things didn’t work out that way, though we still dream about a weekend house. I work out of a prefab studio in my backyard, and I really love it. It was so fast and easy!

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