Cabin Exploration

After writing about the container cabin, I was energized. Based on the emails some of you sent, you were, too. Even now, as I write this, thinking about the long cabin gets me excited.

“What now?”

“If I proceeded as if I was going to build the kind of cabin I’d like in Kentucky, what would I do next?”

The answer: Find an architect.

I love architecture and there is a shortlist of architectural firms I admire. Prentiss Balance Wickline in Seattle, Washington. Estes /Twombly in Providence, Rhode Island. Lake|Flato in San Antonio and Austin, Texas. But what about around here, in Cincinnati? Is there anyone here I like as much?

Short answer: Yes.

The firm’s name is Drawing Department. I’d never heard of them until I was searching Houzz, but I’ve unknowingly admired their commercial work, especially on my favorite restaurant, Sotto.

You walk down the stairs from the sidewalk to go into Sotto, and then down more stairs. The walls are rescued brick and stone and make me feel as if I am in the wine-making cellar of an Italian monastery. I love the food (insalata with prosciutto, arugula, shaved parmigiano! tagliatelle con funghi with porcini, shallot, parmigiano reggiano!). The space is just as remarkable. It is one of the few places where I can eat my meal by myself at the bar and not feel alone.

Based on the homes profiled on their website, Drawing Department’s residential work is just as impressive. The structures are contemporary but not cold. The firm does that Frank Lloyd Wright thing—blur the distinction between indoors and out.

Roofed outdoor deck in the woods
© Drawing Department

I almost turned myself off.

“This is way out of your league,” said Ol’ Beady Eyes, that harsh voice that lives in my head, the one that tries to keep me safe by keeping me from doing anything different. The houses were large, grand, with custom finishes.

But then another voice spoke, also familiar. The voice of my mother. “It never hurts to ask.”

So I asked.

I wrote an email describing what I wanted to do, with a link to my Container Cabin reflection, and asking if it would be at all possible to provide a rough—very rough—ballpark cost estimate for a long casual cabin of maybe 600 square feet, understanding that there are many variables, etc.

There was nothing as small as 600 square feet on Drawing Department’s website. More like 6000.

My expectation was that the firm’s response would be a “thank you for your inquiry… not within our project parameters… best wishes… bye, bye now” form letter email.

Rob Busch, one of the firm’s partners and a leader of their residential practice, responded. He said my project “is right up their alley” and that he had read my essay on the container cabin. He then asked several detailed questions about things like utilities, sustainability, and sweat equity. Rob closed by providing a ballpark price per square foot, with a note that the cabin I described was probably closer to 720 square feet.

As I read his words and the care with which he responded, I cried.

Dreams are tender. When someone handles them gently, it is a kind and generous act.

I responded, thanked Rob for his time in carefully considering my request, and let him know I am not yet in a place to move forward. I answered his questions so he would have the information and to provide a good place for us to pause our conversation.

I’m not sad that I’m not yet able to move forward. I’m exploring options. I’m happy that I know what I want to do, and I know who I want to work with. I’m grateful that my dream was handled with care. I’m enjoying my dream and the possibilities.


Chewing the Cud of Good

A field with tall yellow goldenrod and a few scattered trees
Thankful for the change of seasons.

A field with tall green grasses and a few scattered trees

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