Everything You Need to Know About A-Frames, the Dramatic Mountainside Homes All Over Social Media

published Nov 5, 2022
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With dramatic roof lines and cozy cabin vibes, A-frames are stunning houses with unique architectural flair. 

What Are A-Frame Homes?

As the name suggests, these homes are shaped like the capital letter “A,” with a sharply angled roof that comes to a point at the top. Inside, there’s typically a large, open living area on the main floor with a vaulted ceiling, as well as a lofted bedroom or additional living space up above. Since the two sloped sides of the roof come down almost to the ground, most of the home’s windows are on the front and back sides of the house, though some A-frames have skylights and dormers.

And while A-frames make idyllic mountainside vacation rentals and glamorous backdrops for Instagram posts, what is it actually like to live in one? Are they as charming as they look (like these inviting A-frame examples), or is there more than meets the eye to these triangular beauties? I checked in with real estate agents and interior designers to learn more.

Pros of an A-Frame House

Like any style of home, there are perks and drawbacks to living in an A-frame.

On the plus side, A-frames are incredibly aesthetically pleasing, which is why so many homeowners, renters, and travelers are drawn to them in the first place. These homes are also affordable and relatively simple to build — you can even find prefabricated A-frame home kits for sale.

“While some may be turned off by these weird-shaped homes, others can’t get enough of their sleek, mid-century modern architecture,” says Cheryl Foote, a real estate agent based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. “Their design is an extension of nature, reflecting the peaks of the mountains and the height of the trees. They seamlessly connect the home with the surrounding environment.”

This is why, to a large degree, you’ll find A-frames in places where nature takes center stage, like Colorado and Utah. But in addition to being easy on the eyes, their design is also practical.

“The build allows for snow to slide off the roof,” says Jamie Moore, a real estate agent in Reno, Nevada. “This is especially important because a lot of snow on a roof can cause weight and weather damage. The steeper the A-frame, the less snow that will sit on the roof throughout the winter.”

Cons of an A-Frame House

Though they’re quite charming, A-frames are not for everyone. Families may find them challenging because, although they feel large, open, and airy, the actual livable square footage is usually tiny — and so are the closets. 

Because the walls are so steeply slanted, particularly upstairs, it can be tricky to stand up straight (at least without bonking your head!) in some places. Placing furniture throughout the space can also be tricky for the same reason, notes Moore.

The lofted upstairs bedroom may also be completely open to the main floor living space (except for a safety railing).

“They do not offer much in the way of privacy,” says Omaha real estate agent Scott Bergmann.

And since they’re typically located in more rugged, remote areas, A-frames also require their inhabitants to adopt a certain lifestyle. If shoveling feet of snow, chopping firewood, shooing deer away from your vegetable garden, and other high-elevation chores don’t appeal to you, then living in an A-frame might not either.

“Mountain and cabin life isn’t for everyone,” says Lake Tahoe real estate agent Joni Johnson.

Are A-Frame Houses a Good Investment?

Though every home’s return on investment depends on a lot of factors, such as the strength of the local real estate market, national and international economic conditions, interest rates, and supply and demand, real estate experts generally agree that A-frames tend to be good investments.

They’re typically located in scenic, in-demand destinations where many people want to live, own a second (or third) home, or visit on vacation. As such, there are plenty of opportunities to make money renting A-frames out on vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo.

“Short-term rentals have added to the A-frame’s popularity and have dramatically increased the desire to enjoy, experience, and live in these unique homes,” says Delyse Berry, co-founder of Upstate Down, a real estate brokerage, interior design firm, and home store in New York.