The A-Frame Angle

  • Red Collective
  • 03/4/20

There’s a bit of escapist allure inherent in every cabin, don’t you think? The idea of having a little getaway whether on a Scandinavian coastline or in a Catskills forest appeals to most – a romantic retreat, a space to be enveloped by nature, or a remote hideaway from the hustle of city life. With super steep angled lines abutting the foundation in most cases, the A-frame style of architecture may be our favorite sort of cabin.

A little Wes Anderson-ish throw back is what we all picture because the style of building was widely popularized in the US from the 1950’s through the two decades following. Straightforward and yet solid, the A-frame evenly distributes its load across the angled (usually 45 degrees or less) beams instead of a solid or flat roof, making it perfect for weathering snow and leafy Autumns while simultaneously allowing the maximum amount of light to pour in from either open triangle or side skylights.

Americans gravitated to the form in post-war era as disposable incomes allowed many median white families the luxury of a second home. They remain relatively cheap to build today and as with most simplistic designs, a plethora of prefab sets exist on the interwebs.

What’s so engaging about the A-frame for us is that it immediately conjures up a fantasy in one’s imagination and what you’re picturing is probably very close to my imaginings as well. A long winding drive to get there, a step out of the hatchbacked Volvo or Volkswagen topped with a red canoe, you in your khakis and me in my navy gingham sundress. The cabin is set back in the woods enough to intrigue all our childlike joy and yet not so much that we find it creepy. It’s roof is shingled with Cedar of course, and the interior decorated with just a pinch of Pendleton but not so much that its cliched. What will we do for the weekend away? We’ll fish in the nearby lake with the golden retriever while you write the next great American novel perhaps, ending our day (and this glorious dream sequence) with folk music and marshmallows by the fire. 

​​​​​​​Humble in its origins and yet equilateral in its appeal, while this may be our romantic dialogue, the style is vernacular the world over from Japan to Switzerland. It has a tent-like, almost base quality to it, yet like so many nostalgic forms, it resists the urge to be upsized, grander, or built upon. The A-frame begs to be adored for all that it is and all that it isn’t. There is no room for closets here and you’ll have to relish the midday sun as equally as stormy weather because you’ll hear/see/feel it all. For us, we can see living in one every day. Who says vacay vibes have to be saved for those 2 weeks off per year in a foreign place? Why not come home to the romance of the cabin every day instead? The open plan, the treasured personification of “ahhhhhhh”, the A-frame in all her glory awaits. 

Can’t get enough of the angle?

Here are the coolest prefab kits we’ve seen and here’s the perfect plot of land to put it on in Chapel Hill.

Our favorite eye candy for A frames can usually be found on this Instagram account and if all cabins are your cup of hot cocoa, this insta will be a treat for you too.

If you’re itching to recreate our story above, then please let us vacay with you to this Airbnb or this one that’s just in Boone, ooooo are this one! (the list goes on).

Does your Modernist spirit need the cleanest of lines, well this A-frame house featured in Dwell mag will have you swooning.  

Finally, check out our gallery below for more inspo:

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