This simple, Japanese-inspired tiny house can also be described as a zen cabin in the woods.
I’ve always wanted to use that word in the description of one of the featured homes, shacks, cabins, or retreats here.
Looking back, I’d have to say that the tree-house/mushroom/dome cabin I featured a while back was also kind of meditative. But not as much as this one.
With it’s natural timbers, over-sized beams, natural-looking plaster walls, it seems to induce a sense of calmness just by looking at it.
If you’re a carpenter you may notice that there are no attempts (purposely, mind you) to disguise screws, nails, or bolts.
Update: Video tour and interview with owner/builder added at the bottom!
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Man Designs/Builds Japanese-style Tiny Zen Cabin in the Woods
Photos Courtesy of Brian Schulz
The builder, Brian Schulz, founder of Cape Falcon Kayak, admittedly reveals his design’s flaws, “..the roof pitch is slightly too steep, the body of the house is a bit too tall, and if I’d known that I was going to use a cedar shake roof I absolutely would have dipped the ridge and flown the gables.”
One of my favorite points about this project is that just about everything you see was salvaged within ten miles of where the house rests.
Most of the timber was milled on-site. Decorations were created by local artists. The builder explains, “Whether or not one believes that turning a log from beside the house into the house itself imbues it with some mystical qualities, it is undeniable that the pursuit of local materials connects more deeply to your landscapes, your neighbors, and yourself.”
Brian took his time, thoroughly enjoyed the process, and considered it an adventure as he scoured the neighboring land to discover and come back with the following for his future zen cabin.
The countertops you see below are walnut slabs that came from Portland years before he built the house.
If you visit his website, you’ll learn that this project began with a “neat little brass sink” that he discovered at the local recycling center. That’s the same day that Brian began to design the home in his mind.
Below is a small Jotul cook stove which fits perfectly in this small space.
The table top you see above came from a cedar stump and he ran into the legs on the beach one day.
You can order zen lamps, sort of like the ones you see above, right here.
Now that you got to enjoy a complete tour of this tiny zen cabin, let’s head to the outhouse.
Inside you’ll find a simple composting toilet and a faucet to wash your hands.
Photos Courtesy of Brian Schulz
To summarize, here are more interesting details of this project that you might enjoy in easy to scan bullet points.
- The structure sits on a 200-square-foot concrete pad.
- Most of the wood framing came from floating logs during a flood.
- The insulation is made from cotton.
- The downstairs flooring is stained concrete.
- The windows were just $40 from a local dump.
- The French doors were found on Craigslist which Brian refinished.
He spent a total of approximately $11,000 to build it which mostly consisted of concrete, shakes, and insulation. It took a year and a half to build it in his spare time.
Video Tour and Interview
Learn more: http://capefalconkayak.com/japanesehouse.html
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May be the most interesting and pretty small home I have seen to date! Love it!
Isn’t it awesome? Thanks John!
I want the same just stunning ;o)
Wow!!!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely Gorgeous!!! beautiful about everything,,Using all wood to the advantage of every aspect to the house…he cut the pieces right to make them fit and used small pieces for his accomdation….aww the outhouse maybe be like really outdoors…..Good Work!!!!
Thanks, Corinne. I loved it too. He did an incredible job.
This little home is just perfect. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thanks so much for checking it out, Ginger.
This is lovely. I was born in the Pacific Northwest, have lived here nearly all of my life, and love to hike in the North Cascades. This cabin looks like home. It fits so harmoniously with its surroundings. Thank you for featuring this!
Thanks Holly I’m glad that you enjoyed it! Was an honor to be able to feature it today.
Two things I don’t like about it:
1) no rocking chair.
2) it isn’t mine
I love this wee house. Its truely lovely, just looking at it makes you feel so calm, it invokes the smell of a fresh forest after a rain shower….lovely. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, lil! I believe Brian enjoyed the process of making it too which makes it extra lovely. Good to see you around here. 🙂
Simple beauty…Complex and amazing carpentry, seems a hybrid of both post and beam and of more modern structural methods…
I havent seen a tiny home with such grace…simplicity is a virtue and the complex blended with simplicity in this home surprised me.
An outhouse would be a fine thing as a backup for an in home commode though, relying on just the outhouse is a little too earthy for a primary residence, unless it was used while collecting the components for, or waiting to afford indoor facilities…
I would be interested in a floor plan and blueprints to play with before building one of my own.
Thanks, John. Having an outhouse is something I’ve never been used to.. But in the right place I’d be willing to try it. In this case, I’d take it. Lol.
Great cabin design and use of space! I like that he recycled materials and kept it simple. Love Cedar shakes.
Thanks, LaMar. I like his choice of reclaimed materials too.
Absolutely beautiful!! What an inspiration!!
Thanks, Basha I’m glad that you found it inspiring!
I could live there is perfect peace… 🙂
Me too Deborah 🙂
that is so amazingly brilliant!…i really love it!…he was so resourceful with his materials and the design is nice and simple & uncluttered…thx for sharing, alex…this was quite the find!
My pleasure Heath. It was quite nice to run into it thanks to a reader’s comment and was an honor to be able to feature it here. I’ve always liked Japanese structures.. Combine it with tiny/small, some zen/simplicity, and it’s like heaven, lol.
I think it is a cool little place. I can see how one could truly relax in such a place.
I would want some kind of ‘door’ for the ‘out house’. IMO; some things need a little privacy for. 🙂
Thanks BWG. For sure. I can understand the privacy part.
The perfect artist or writer’s retreat. I totally agree with you, it is like a little bit of Heaven.
Thanks Cindy, it is perfect for an artist/writer. Quiet place to get away and create.
BlackMore’s Night on one of their albums has a song called “Home Again”. I think that that song could pass as a theme song for this little zen woods nester. Thanks for sharing.
Off to search for the song, thanks Thomas!
Brian is an outstanding craftsman, artisan, waterman and friend. If you are interested in this project or a skin on frame kayak check out his site at Cape Falcon Kayaks-you will not be disappointed!
Can we ship this little house to me in Georgia? 🙂 What a cool little place!
Hehe, I don’t think so Randy. 😀 Glad you liked it though!
I am so delighted by the sheer simplicity of the structure that it is truly remarkable. His use of surrounding materials in the construction fits well with the landscape. It reminds me of the simple Zen life focusing on finding inner calmness and escaping the distractions of every day life. I especially like the stairs made from the log. This has given me some wonderful ideas to be creative in building my own. I also noticed that even though the lamps on the table were electric, It could still be a place that can be totally green and off grid. The more I see and hear stories like this, the more I am encouraged to pursue the more simple things in life. Great job.
Thanks Norbert I’m glad that Brian’s work inspired you. I feel the same about it and it encourages me to do the same. That environment fosters inner growth versus materialistic things. I believe that’s powerful.
Beautiful example of ‘wabi sabi’. The photo of the place nestled into the trees is absolutely wonderful. What a setting.
Wabi Sabi! I have tiny a book in my apartment titled that filled with inspiring quotations. Thanks, CJ!
Nice and efficient. Sustainable, too. However, where is the shower or bathtub? For myself, I could see using it for a secondary retreat or cabin, but would find myself longing for indoor plumbing and central heat. Also, where is the handrail on the stairway? I don’t know if that would pass code requirements on the East Coast.
I believe there is a separate bath house, Adina, which I didn’t get to put in here. I’ll see about finding/adding it. Thanks for pointing all that out.
Fabulous! I love the staircase, so creative. I can totally see myself living in it!
I like the staircase too Danielle, thanks!
THis is the most awesome house i could ever wish to live in/build. how much land do you own where the house is?cost of the land? did you run into any problems with code inspectors …using different materials and such a “unusual” size and shape house? I mean who builds and owns the house and land they live in these days anyways,you must be a hippie dope head thinking like that!….lol people are so strange with the way they choose (or are forced ) cookie cutter inefficient ugly housing. you cant even paint your house in a lot of neighborhoods….to me that is unbelievable. i understand the problem of having to make a living doing something….and living far from the city , it is hard to find work or think up a way to make a small salary that suppliments food -a garden and chickens ect… how do i pay property taxes and water /fuel costs. transportation and insurance. these are the things i would have a problem paying for after savings dry up once the house is finished and unexpected problems have been taken care of (payed for). making bead jewlery and pottery doesnt seem like it would be ammo for a sales bonanza amongst the rural types. maybe im sounding stupid…..but these are the things i cant get past when i dream of doing something like this.
You bring up good points, Dustin. If you have access to the internet there is plenty you can do these days to work from home. Just take a peak at sites like (Link Expired) and look at all of the different professions/services people offer on there and it may surprise you.
It looks perfect to me! I would love to stay there for a night or two, but I’m not brave enough to live in the woods.
I hear ya babz. 😀
The more I see of these beautiful tiny homes, the more I view the word “standard” as a cuss word. I truly don’t want “standard” houseing anymore, or anything close to it. I want unique, quirky, creative, and personal. I want my home to be an extension of myself. Love it! Keep up the good work!
Thanks, Theresa. I agree.. I love homes with character.
“Most of the timber was milled on-site. Decorations were created by local artists. The builder explains, “Whether or not one believes that turning a log from beside the house into the house itself imbues it with some mystical qualities, it is undeniable that the pursuit of local materials connects more deeply to your landscapes, your neighbors, and yourself.” THISIS SO VERY, VERY CORRECT. My tiny home was built right here in rural Arkansas with local timber, and so was my pine box coffin.
Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet is one of my favorite writers. Now back to my use of the pine box coffin, which is located in my tiny house. While in college at Henderson State University, I had my plain pine box coffin with me and used it is a classic storage solution. Over the past decade, I have stored anything and everything from jewelry and CDs to linens, foods, clothing and even tools. My pine box coffin was locally made, and purchased for $200.00 back in 1997 from the casket store which was delivered by a hearse for free to my tiny home.
I have rocks, stones and red clay in vases in my tiny homes as well, all from the state of Arkansas.
Barefootin’ in rural south central sunny Arkansas
Widows reach beyond 9/11 to aid Afghans
May 12, 2006|Jason Straziuso, Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan — The two Massachusetts women walk down a fly-infested alley where sewage from mud huts drains onto the dirt walkway. In a tiny backyard, they find two dozen chickens, five children — and one Afghan war widow. Patti Quigley of Wellesley and Susan Retik of Needham — whose husbands were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks — decided to use the financial support they received afterward to help war widows in Afghanistan, where the Al Qaeda planners of the terrorist strikes found harbor. Yesterday, they met for the first time one of the recipients of their donations — an Afghan mother who now has a small chicken farm. The Americans, their heads wrapped in scarves out of respect for local tradition, peppered her with questions: How many chickens do you have? How many eggs do you get? What do you do with the money? She answered: The chickens produce 10 eggs a day. The family eats some of them and sells the rest. She buys food and school supplies with the money.Retik then asked what she had traveled across the world to learn: Is your life better because of this program? The woman, whose small home has dirt floors and drapes for doors, answered honestly:
Retik then asked what she had traveled across the world to learn: Is your life better because of this program?
The woman, whose small home has dirt floors and drapes for doors, answered honestly: ”It’s OK, but not great,” said Ahqela, who has only one name and says she is 35, but looks far older. Her husband died in Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s. ”I can at least buy some things with this money.”
This is great, there is nothing more frustrating than the lack of pictures when something this nice pops up!! Good job on this post!!
A great tiny home needs lots of light and views to keep you from feeling like you’re trapped in a shoebox, it’s a trick of the mind sure, but it’s an important part of design that folks often miss…even big homes feel small when they are dark with no view to distract the eye.
Thanks, John, well said!
What does it mean to say “if I’d known that I was going to use a cedar shake roof I absolutely would have dipped the ridge and flown the gables?”
Shannon, I wish I could help clarify that for you but I’m not sure even after looking up a few things but hopefully someone else can help us by saying it in another way? Thanks and sorry!
BEING AN ARTIST,I BUILT AN ART STUDIO YEARS BACK WITH A LOFT AND TIN ROOF. I HAD NO IDEA AT THE TIME IT WAS MY FIRST TINY HOUSE.SADLY THE HOUSE WAS SOLD AND THE NEW OWNERS TORE DOWN MY ART STUDIO. HERE I AM 20 YEARS LATER AND WE FOUND ONE ANOTHER.I AM READY.ITS TOUGH TO DECIDE WHICH DESIGN TO GO WITH, BUT ITS THRILLING.THANK YOU
Thanks, Annie! Wish you the best with your decision and “new” tiny house 🙂
I think that the small window in the corner is to be opened, as well as a small window at the highest point in the house when the weather is hot. The heat will rise and pull in the cool air in. The lower window should be on the coolest side of the house in the shade. You would be surprised at the amount of air flow that will be created. More than one set of windows can be used. This is the way that it was done hundreds of years ago. Such a shame that we have gotten away from all their knowledge.
Skylights help to vent summer heat as well.
I really like the idea of sleeping on a mat on the floor or sitting on cushions on a floor. It keeps a space open to any other kind of function, because a mat can be rolled up and easily stored and cushions can easily be piled out of the way.
I really like the fact that there is no formal dining area, because I prefer to eat with a plate in my lap.
And no formal office area. I prefer to use a handheld computer, clipboard and totebag, because they can be taken anywhere, such as the porch or screenhouse.
I have two words about always using your lap as a table: Hot. Soup.
And sleeping on mats on the floor? Spiders, centipedes, ants – oh my!
Just beautiful! And I love, LOVE that staircase. The outhouse is the deal breaker for me. A little more square footage to accommodate a few modern conveniences would be ideal.
The spirit of the Zen Cabin is incredible and inspiring.
I love the house…im looking for something small just for me..an lots of small pets here in new zealand.
How do you take a shower or a bath?
Brian and his home are so inspiring. To live one’s life so integrated with nature, so appreciative of what matters, so dedicated to beauty, so mindful. I would make some additions, but the concept is so right. He must be so with the life he’s created for himself. (I know, way too many “so’s”, sorry).
I love it! Amazing craftsmanship,am lovely calm feel and beautiful surroundings.
Only additions – I would want a handrail for the stairs – up is usually easier and safer than coming down! Also I would prefer an indoor toilet/shower or bathroom. However, having recently bought a Kampala Khazi (yes, really!) portable toilet for the upstairs in our small holiday house in France, and used it successfully (to avoid the steep wooden stairs during the night), I realise I could manage with one of those and a strip wash if necessary.
Very inspiring. Thank you for including this one again, Alex.
A very nice, simple, forest design. Well done, nice and peaceful. And the price is always less when you have the land and skills to mill your own trees.
My problem would be finding a piece of land I could afford, in a forest like this, where this is a legal dwelling. I’ve been through Manzanita, Oregon, and it is not only mostly expensive places, you can’t just build something like this yourself if it is going to be your full time home.
Location, location, location. What to do?
Very well done.
Maybe you answer this another posting, but do you sell plans for this?