This Cozy A-Frame in the Woods Is One of the Dreamiest Cabins We’ve Ever Seen
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Name: Sheri Kowalski, Freya the Greyhound, and two kitties named Geisha and Aslan
Location: Harbor Springs, Michigan
Size: 960 square feet
Type of Home: A-frame home
Years lived in: 2 years, owned
Stuck inside for most of 2020, I’ve found myself fantasizing about dream houses. I’m extraordinarily lucky to live in a lovely New Orleans duplex, but my thoughts still drift to other romantic home types. Dream homes can mean a lot of different things to different people, and this week we’re touring all kinds, from an A-frame to an RV to living abroad and off the grid.
I’m kicking off a week-long series of dream home tours with photographer and graphic designer Sheri Kowalski’s stunning A-frame cabin in the woods of Michigan. Do I spend a considerable amount of time searching for cabins and A-frames on Zillow? Yes. Do I dream of one day leaving my life behind and running to the woods? Yes. I find such peace in nature, especially wooded forests dripping in fall foliage. And nothing quite says cozy to me like a small little wood-clad A-frame cabin off the beaten path. I have a place in my heart for ALL A-frames (okay, all cabins) in the woods, but there’s something particularly wonderful about Sheri’s. Her cabin is absolutely one version of a dream home to me.
Of course, it’s not just the fact that her home happens to be an A-frame that makes this a home worthy of touring. It’s what she’s done with the space. She’s managed to take a fairly small, kind of dark wood-clad interior and turn it into a bright, cozy space filled with a sleek mid-century modern style that complements the architecture. Perhaps most impressively, she’s managed to decorate it with collectibles and art that are very meaningful, all in a way that is cohesive and beautiful.
Originally from Detroit, Sheri completed a year of solo travel around the world five years ago, and when she returned to Michigan, she says she craved living by the Great Lakes. “I made my way north, first renting and then eventually finding my dream home,” she says. “I love where I live, in the charming northern town of Harbor Springs in Michigan known for its clear, deep harbor fed by natural springs. My house sits a few miles outside of town on a country road with views of forest and fields. Harbor Springs is like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting with its Americana style and small-town charm.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: My style is a blend of mid-century mixed with vintage finds and global elements from around the world. A marble elephant from India rests next to a prayer wheel from Bhutan. Upstairs my singing bowl from Nepal sits on my dresser. A beaded jaguar head from Mexico hangs above my front door. Travel is part of who I am and I try to infuse elements into my home. I also like to support local artists. A carved wooden tree hanging above my stove is from a local Michigan artist. I have paintings hung that my parents created. A friend of mine painted my A-frame, which is adorable and hanging in the kitchen. Large canvas photos are from my time spent traveling and taken by me.
Inspiration: I’m inspired by travel and nature. It seems my life goes between the two living here. I have peaceful forest surrounding me and am more tuned into the seasons living here. I spend a lot more time outdoors these days. Yet the harsh winters and isolation forces us northerners to travel in order to keep our spirits up until spring. Nature works its way into my decor whether it be birds on my bedding or pieces of found wood or Petoskey stones. My color scheme tends to come from my vintage globe. I love soft teals of the ocean and corals of the continents. And even though I have very few windows I fit as many plants as I can near them.
Favorite Element: Aside from the unique coziness an A-frame adds to my daily life, I love my bentwood shelving unit. It was a yard sale score from a neighbor 15 years ago and has traveled with me every time I move. It’s the one statement piece I can’t let go of.
Biggest Challenge: Slanted walls! Being an artist, I miss having vertical white wall space to hang artwork on. While the tongue and groove wood that make up the walls is art in itself, it makes for hanging challenging and it’s difficult even adding a new light fixture. It also makes for super tight closets and the occasional head bump when walking too close to the beams. I lean my bigger photo canvases against the wall on the floor and cluster them creatively with old suitcases and decorative elements. There’s no way around bumping my head though, even the dog does it sometimes. Ha!
Proudest DIY: The small retaining wall out front definitely gave me a sense of achievement. My boyfriend and I tackled it last summer and neither of us are very handy. I found myself cutting brick and tamping down gravel like a pro by the end. It replaced an old wood wall that was rotted through and definitely elevated the curb appeal.
Biggest Indulgence: I’ve been lucky in that the home was very move-in ready. I haven’t had to do much. The retaining wall was the most expensive project and definitely worth it.
Describe what a “dream” home means to you. Do you consider this to be your “dream” home? A dream home is a place I have envisioned myself living, projecting it out into the universe and not realizing one day it could come true. It’s somewhere that gives me a sense of contentment and lets me express my personal style in a joyful way. It’s a place where I want to make every element within it special and constantly make it even more ideal as time goes on. This A-frame fits this image perfectly. This is a place I want to care for and plant roots at. Sometimes at night I stand out in my yard and look up at the stars, breathe in the fresh air, and give thanks for this special place. I’d say it’s definitely a dream come true.
How did you find this home? I love looking at real estate and would search the Realtor.com app all the time, seeing what homes would come up in my area. I’d daydream about A-frames but they didn’t come up very often and when they did they almost always needed a lot of work or were in the middle of nowhere. I found my A-frame the day it was listed. I drove over that same day and when I pulled into the driveway I knew I was going to buy it without even going inside. I didn’t know how I would make it happen, but I contacted the realtor immediately and a month later I was moving in.
What was the biggest stumbling block on the road to your dream home? I would say the buying process in general was the biggest challenge for my home. My first home was much easier to buy back in 2008, but things have changed since then. Banks are more cautious to the point of really deterring me at one point. I’m glad I persevered and went through with the purchase though.
What was your idea of a dream home when you were a little kid? How close is this home’s version to your childhood dream? I don’t think I ever imagined my dream home would end up being so small! I also never thought I’d be able to earn a living in northern Michigan. It seemed like it was only a place for cottages one vacations at. Here I am living in this gorgeous landscape year round, embracing the snow and learning to trade city comforts for the wonders of the great outdoors.
What is your best advice for finding/creating a dream home? Project what you want out into the universe, whether it be talking about it with friends, making a dream board of things you desire, or reading about it in books or online. The more you visualize it, the more real it will become. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish once you select one thing and really focus on it.
- Storage Bench — Wayfair
- Ombre Distressed Rug — Overstock
- Bentwood Shelving Unit — $75 yard sale
- Sectional Couch — $400 Consignment shop
- Bentwood Rocker — $50 Salvation Army
- “Last Kiss” Framed deer print — Josh Keyes
- Canvas Photo of Croatia — Sheri Kowalski
- A-frame watercolor print of “Sheri’s Place”— Beth Manning