40 Tips For The Perfect A-Frame Cabin

Let’s talk about the good ol’ a-frame architecture. These triangle-shaped structures were popular in the 1950s through the ’70s. You might even remember visiting your grandparents’ a-frame home as a kid in all it’s wood-paneled glory. Well, after a stint on the outdated list, a-frames are coming back.

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While some people live in one full time, many a-frames are built or remodeled for the purpose of vacationing. What sounds better than spending a vacation in an a-frame cabin in the woods?

The modern design requires creativity for living both indoors and out but with a little elbow grease, you can achieve a vacation paradise on earth in one of these triangles. 

Here are 40 tips for the perfect a-frame cabin that you’ll want to move into.

Cabin Outdoors

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When you have an existing a-frame cabin to update, it can be hard to envision how it could look. But if you stick with elements from the cabin’s surroundings, like wood, stone, greens and browns, you’ll have your a-frame spruced up in no time.

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When you own a vacation home, there are certain things that you need to splurge on to be sure your place will last even when you aren’t there. Using tin for your a-frame’s roof will help it withstand the elements and save you money on all that roofing in the long run.

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Do you need to construct a base for your brand new a-frame cabin? Don’t knock the idea of a wood support. Especially if you’re a big do-it-yourself person, this option will be simple and easy for you to do yourself.

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When you think cabin, you probably envision a building made of horizontal logs. When you’re going with an a-frame, you might as well think all the way outside the box and cover your cabin’s walls in wood slices instead of logs or slabs. Everyone will want a picture with your wood wall.

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With all that wood on your cabin, you probably need some color to brighten things up. Consider painting your a-frame’s trim something that’s eye catching. Green is classic but you can really choose anything.

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Want to make a real popping statement on your cabin? Paint your front door a bright color! It’s a common trend for the daily home so why not take it and implement it in your vacation getaway?

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Maybe you’re looking to create a modern retreat that fits your minimal lifestyle. In that case, just paint everything smokey black. It doesn’t get more modern than that and you’ll have an a-frame that will never go out of style.

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Many a-frame houses have their two straight walls full of windows. Being one of the main ways to let the light shine in, why not install even more windows and just make a whole wall of glass? They can be frosted or beveled if you need the privacy.

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When you spent your childhood summers in a cabin, the sound of a slamming screen door is nostalgic. Give your own a-frame cabin the luxury of a screen door so your kids can have the same feeling.

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Personal touches make a place feel more like your home. Add some sweet cottage bits to your a-frame’s exterior to make your cabin feel like it’s right out of a storybook.

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Many smaller a-frames have a covered porch that’s just an extension of the roof. Instead of keeping it all covered, consider using slats instead of solid roofing to let more sun into your living space.

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Larger a-frames might give you the room for a real covered porch. While you might have to finegal the ends to fit against the roof’s slant, you’ll enjoy the normal country looking front porch.

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Is your cabin one of the large a-frames? Think about installing a second story balcony. It would make a nice sheltered spot to watch the wildlife in the morning and listen to the rain while you read.

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When you have entertaining space outside your a-frame cabin, you’ll want to make the lines between indoors and outdoors seem temporary. Install great big doors that you can open wide onto your patio or deck for the ultimate party space.

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Are you using more of your decorating resources bringing the actual a-frame up to date? No worries. Use a mix of wood and stone to create a beautiful outdoor space that’s just as inviting as a large deck.

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Maybe you’ve got the funds to cover a giant deck for all your outdoor entertaining needs. In that case, go for it and paint it the same color as your a-frame’s siding to help it blend in a little better.

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Lots of cabins are blessed with a stove or a fireplace but there is at least a fire pit for cozy nights. Use some porch space to store all the wood you need to make all those marshmallow toasting nights a possibility.

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If your porch area is precious and used up, you will have to get creative about wood storage. What’s better than underneath the porch? It will stay dry and be easily accessible when you need it.

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When your a-frame cabin is in a prime location, you have to think about how best to meld it into its surroundings. A lakeside cabin would definitely benefit from a dock for fishing, boating and swimming.

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No one can say no to an ocean front cabin. Install a boardwalk to the beach to make the ocean easily accessible for all family and friends. It’s helpful when you’re carrying all those beach amenities back after a long day on the sand.

Indoors

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As we mentioned above, really good cozy cabins supply a way to have a fire indoors so you can roast marshmallows any time of the day or night. Make sure you dedicate a corner of your a-frame to your stove or fireplace.

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You may think that your two straight walls provide the only opportunity for natural light. However, living in an a-frame is the best time to use skylights. You won’t regret installing one or two for a little more sunshine.

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Have you built on to your a-frame cabin? Keep the original lines by having those slanted exposed beams in your home. Wrapped in wood, they’ll make a nice rustic touch.

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Many people might think that getting rid of the wood paneling in an a-frame is the best thing. While you consider it though, also think about how lovely an updated wood paneling would be for a warm and rustic living space.

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So brown wood paneling isn’t for you and that’s okay. You can still whitewash all your walls and get that sweet country cabin look that’s a lot brighter. Perfect if you’re looking for a quick fix way to bring more light into your a-frame.

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Speaking of more light, don’t be afraid to have your a-frame’s windows replaced with the biggest windows you can find. Those big glass panes will welcome more light into your home than you could ever do with white paint.

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Want to know what one of the biggest kinds of windows are? A door. Add some big glass doors to your living space to bring in more light and make entertaining completely easy.

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When you’re remodeling your a-frame cabin, you’ll definitely want to put some thought into an open layout. With a smaller space to start with, everyone will benefit from the ability to hang out in one large space together.

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Are you lucky enough to have an amazing view from your a-frame windows? Be sure you make your living room layout facing this view so all your relaxing can be done while you watch sunrises, sunsets, storms and any other weather.

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If your a-frame is on the smaller side, don’t be afraid to slim down on the interior. Make good choices with your furniture and opt for minimal decorating to make a small space seem bigger. You’ll want to be outside most of the time anyway.

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Most a-frames have a loft or second story but how do you accommodate stairs? Spiral staircases are fun and definitely a good choice when you’re looking at a lack of floor space.

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Does your two story a-frame already have a normal staircase? Use the space wisely by installing shelving underneath. You’ll use up so much of your available area that you won’t mind the stairs being smack in the middle of your cabin.

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Steps don’t have to be only for walking. Design yours in a way that creates a step and a shelf so you combine two purposes for one piece. Your a-frame walking area will thank you.

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You can imagine that the tippy top of an a-frame doesn’t provide much space. The least you can do is paint it white so sleeping up there won’t feel quite so much like sleeping in a dingy attic.

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Are there beams in your a-frame bedroom? Paint them black to make your space feel more modern. You probably already have all the rustic decor to keep the cabin feel so it could use a touch up.

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In a large a-frame, you might have a little extra space on the second story to work with. Create a reading nook or an office corner that will catch all the light from sunrise to sunset.

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When your a-frame cabin is built on some property and you have the privacy of trees, you can think outside the box when it comes to the bathroom. Install your bathtub in front of a large window for maximum relaxation.

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There is always that corner in an a-frame where the roof meets the floor. Instead of giving it up for wasted space, build yourself little cubbies so you can utilize every square inch in your cabin.

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A serious a-frame cabin goes into the tiny house category. If you a-frame could practically roll on wheels, take an afternoon to see where screws and nails could help provide you with much needed storage.

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When you have kids to think about, vacation homes are the perfect place to add those fun kid friendly touches. Hang a monkey swing in your a-frame for your child to enjoy no matter the weather.

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The best way to visualize a design and to understand how some of the ideas mentioned above actually work is to put them into context. We can do that by looking at a few examples of A-frame cabins. This one was designed by studio everywhere. It’s called AYFRAYM and it’s a modern version of a classic A-frame cabin, with a clean and simple design. It has a big an open social area on the ground floor and a loft area for the private spaces. There’s a big glazed facade and long windows along the slated roof which bring light into all the different sections.

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Here’s a whole collection of A-frame cabins in Huzhou, China. It’s a place where a group of families gathered and built together these matching houses, creating a lovely community around them. They’re all quite small and have big triangular roofs that point towards the center, with glazed facades on the other two sides. They’re also slightly elevated from the ground which allows them to have minimal impact on the landscape. This was a project by architecture and design studio Wiki Tech.

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This lovely little A-frame cabin has a very welcoming interior. Although on the outside it’s dark and designed to blend in with the landscape, the interior is bright and airy. There’s a nice gathering area with a living, dining and kitchen combined and two bedrooms and two bathrooms above that. The furniture and the decorations create a very cozy and inviting feel, especially the little fireplace in the corner of the living room and the chandelier hanging above the dining table.

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Black seems to be a popular color for the exterior of A-frame cabins. It makes sense for a cabin surrounded by a forest because the dark exterior allows it to better blend in and to disappear into the surroundings. This one, like many other, compensated for that on the inside with a color palette that includes lots of light neutrals like white but also plenty of wood which creates a very warm and inviting ambiance. We love the dark contrast created by the white surfaces together with the dark-stained wood and the black accents.

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This cabin in the woods of the Rocky Mountains introduces a rather exotic color into its design. The exterior is defined by a big A-frame roof which goes all the way to the ground and a facade that’s turquoise with white accents around the windows and doors. This gives it a retro vibe but also suggests a vibrant design approach. The interior on the other hand is more toned down and white together with other soft neutrals help to make the small areas seem bigger and brighter.

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Speaking of bold color choices, check out this cool A-frame cabin and its red facade. The roof is black which frames the red quite nicely and the frames around the windows are white for a clean and elegant twist. The big wooden front door is off-center and welcomes the guests into a super cozy setting with all the walls and ceiling covered in wood.

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A proximity to the ocean means a wonderful which needs to be emphasized and in the case of this mid-century A-frame cabin that was done by opening up the facade and a big glazed surface that one side and large windows on the other. The combination of gray and light blue for the exterior of the cabin is in tone with the beautiful scenery and allows the structure to blend in and to look at home on this beautiful oceanside plot. The interior has a nice retro vibe to it, emphasized by the use of colors such as light green and turquoise as well as by an abundance of natural wood.