Four couples who are good friends purchased a beautiful piece of land on the Llano River in Texas. After considering building one large house, they instead decided to have separate small cabins for each couple, along with a shared common building with a kitchen, space for group dinners and activities, and guest accommodations. One of the couples had previously worked with architect Matt Garcia Design, so they asked him to design their cabin compound. The cabins were to be basic but comfortable, have minimal impact on the environment, and be built for a budget of about $40,000 each.
The photos here show one of the cabins. The others are similar but each was customized for the other couples. The 350 ft2 (32.5 m2) cabins have a studio design with a combination bedroom and living room facing the river through a large window. At the back is a full bathroom.
The cabins are a mix of modern and rustic, using basic building materials for a stylish effect. The concrete floors and fir plywood walls are the most obvious examples, but there are a number of smaller details throughout. The black shelves in the bedroom were fabricated from plate steel stock and bolted to the wall studs. Other shelves in the bathroom area are made from plywood supported by threaded steel rod. A detail we particularly like is the design of the bathroom towel rods, hooks and toilet paper holder. They are made from pipe fittings for a stylish but low-cost look that anyone could easily replicate with a trip to the hardware store.
On a more practical note, the cabins were designed to deal with Texas’ harsh, arid climate. The galvanized metal siding helps to deflect the blistering sun. Spray foam insulation blocks more of the summer heat and keeps the cabins cozy in winter. The roofs are sloped for rainwater collection, with the water being directed to large cisterns placed alongside each cabin.