Maricela Salas and Mary McGoff admit they were “naive” about buying raw land before making their purchase of a hillside lot in the Berkshires. It turned out to be too steep and rocky for a traditional foundation. To avoid “blasting” and ruining their beloved refuge, their contractor Arthur Jackson (The Small Building Company) created piers to perch their cabin like a “treehouse” above the rocky ledge.
To select the ideal siting and orientation for their bucolic home Salas and McGoff camped on the land for a few years in an Airstream trailer. “It also made us realize the Airstream was a 23-foot beautiful thing that we love and miss dearly,” explains Salas. “We realized we don’t need a big house, or anything grand and just simple. I’m talking tiny, tiny house first and then realized it doesn’t make sense to build an expensive tiny, tiny house when you can just wait and build this.”
They expanded their dream to an 850-square-foot “modern cabin” (they don’t consider it a “house”), but they retained the open feel of the Airstream. Designed by New York architect RD Gentzler, the space which is technically all one room (though there are pocket doors to shut off the bathroom and bedroom when necessary) resembles a Manhattan loft.
The focus of the cabin is the outdoors and the huge bank of windows along the south side (with a roof canopy to limit summer solar gain) frames their private forest. “It’s just magical,” explains Salas. “I’m from Los Angeles, but my father built a ranch in Mexico when he got near retirement. He’s no longer with us but I don’t know if I channeled him but building this is one of those things where oh, I get it now and now I’m the same way.” Kirsten: “Is it a place to lose yourself?” Salas: “Yes. Lose yourself. Talk about being in the moment.”