Weekend Cabin: North Wales, United Kingdom



Thanksgiving kicks off the holidays, and for many of us that means a renewed emphasis on families — rousing gatherings, big meals, the chaos of multiple generations under one roof. This restored farmhouse near Snowdonia National Park in North Wales looks like a terrific solution for a clan that appreciates sustainability and doesn’t mind roughing it a bit.

The lengthy stone structure was built in 1805, was occupied for 143 years, then sat empty and decaying for another 40 until architects Jane Hackett and Jonathan Holland began restoring it. They replaced all the rotten windows with new sliding box sashes and redid the roof in Welsh slate. The walls were washed and scrubbed and covered in limewash. The exposed beams were, fortunately, retained, and the slate floors were burnished with a good cleaning and treatment with linseed oil.

The couple then sold the farmhouse to daughter in law Kathleen Holland, the designer behind Alpaca Pie, a children’s clothing brand that merges British and Peruvian sensibilities. The clothes are made in Peru, where Holland was born, and have vibrant color palettes and patterns often absent in the more staid British Isles. Under Holland’s hand, the house now has spots of brightness, especially in her three kids’ rooms, while still feeling rooted in the timelessness tradition of the area.

Holland added a small solar system, so the house now has a bit of electricity. “Having a fridge was life-changing,’ she said, “but we have kept the electric lights to a minimum and always eat and bathe by candlelight.” There’s running water, though it’s only hot if heated first via the stove. Furnishings are a mix — some have been bought at local auctions, others were made by local craftsman, like the blacksmith-built four-posted master bed.

Best of all, there’s room in the kitchen for everyone to gather near the warmth of the wood stove…or retreat to one of the far corners of the house to escape. Family is family, after all.

Architects: Hackett Holland

Remember, clicking on the magnifying glass enlarges the images.

Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.

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