A woodland cabin retreat in the serene Balsam Mountains, North Carolina


Altura Architects has designed this woodland cabin retreat that is located in a dense forest at a high elevation in the Balsam Mountains, North Carolina. The homeowner is an avid outdoorsman and environmentalist who had secured a unique piece of land within a red spruce forest on a mountain ridge at 5,700 feet elevation.

The dense evergreen forest and high elevation create a microclimate and habitat that supports rare species of flora and fauna. Both architect and homeowner had a shared vision for the cabin design to minimize the impact on this on this unique microclimate. One of the ways to address this was to construct a 40′ pedestrian bridge that connects the cabin to the parking area and road.


This enabled the architects to preserve the red spruce forest below. ⁠The exterior emulates the surroundings with dark pine tar stain and strong vertical lines to reinforce the rhythm of the surrounding trees. Interior spaces are wrapped in birch to provide warmth and light inside the dark forest. ⁠


Two cantilevered forms are clad in cedar siding and vertical lines are used throughout to reinforce the rhythm of the surrounding trees.


A dark pine tar stain complements the tone of the tree bark while the base and central connector of the cabin are finished with a cement plaster, tinted to blend with the granite rock outcroppings.


What We Love: This woodland cabin retreat provides its inhabitants with a wonderful indoor-outdoor living experience courtesy of large walls of glazing. Minimal details and furnishings help to keep the living spaces low-maintenance and distraction-free, focusing instead on the tranquil views surrounding this structure. Overall, we think this inviting cabin would be an idyllic retreat to get away from it all.

Tell Us: Would this forested getaway be your idea of the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? Let us know why or why not in the Comments below!

Note: Take a look at a couple of other fantastic home tours that we have highlighted here on One Kindesign in the state of North Carolina: Modern-rustic home set amidst the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains and Timber frame barn house showcases inviting interiors in North Carolina.


Above: A skylight carved into the birch plywood form balances the daylight from the window wall.



Above: The main living room has a wall of folding doors that reinforces the cabin’s strong connection to the surrounding forest. It also opens the main living spaces to the screen porch to the south.



A key aspect of building responsibly on this fragile land is to work with a team of experts. Equinox Environmental consultants developed a comprehensive site concept that reduces the cabin’s impact on the land during the construction process and after. The strategy includes an integrated stormwater system, reduced building footprint, tree and soil preservation, and a forest management plan.



Each decision through our process prioritizes the preservation of the existing ecosystems of the site. The home provides a comfortable retreat that also supports a lifestyle and daily experiences that foster a meaningful relationship with the surrounding land.


 Unified wood tones in the cabinets, flooring and furniture keep the interior palette calm, despite the motion of wood grain, and also allow the textures of the forest views to be the focus.






Site plan and site section showing 40′ pedestrian bridge over the red spruce forest below.


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1 year ago

Exterior is nice. The interior is very boring with the light color wood covering everything and no artwork. It needs some contrasting colors. I give the interior a 1 out of 5 for poor style and design. Liberal architects often overspend on their climate agenda without regard to interior design.