Appalachian A-Frame

Early in our marriage my husband John and I (along with our rescue dog Charlie) would visit the Highcountry of North Carolina for quick weekend trips. It was a short 2 hour drive from our home base of Charlotte, NC and visit after visit we fell in love with the area. We would daydream about someday having our own place to getaway to but we were busy with starting a family and building our business, Shoestring Productions, and our mountain escape stayed a dream for someday.

10 years later our business was established and our family complete after the births of our three children. We felt settled and ready to seriously consider finding a vacation home for us to enjoy and began planning and researching. Looking back it is very interesting that when I created a Pinterest board most of the cabins I saved were A-Frames. I loved how visually appealing they were and how unique they felt. Most places we were finding were a more traditional build, favoring the classic log cabin style that is very sought after in our market. We were hoping for something a little different and having difficulty finding a place that matched our wish list, especially on our modest budget. The market was starting to pick up at the time we were hunting for a place and every time we found a listing we liked it would go under contract before we could schedule a showing. It was getting to the point we were about to shelve the idea for a few months and then my husband found our A-Frame before the listing went live on MLS. The A-Frame lined up perfectly with our wish list so our agent offered to check it out before we made the trip up the mountain. She called us and said we needed to immediately look at the place or it would be under contract by the weekend. Her words were “this is exactly what you are looking for and at your price point I was convinced it didn’t exist”. We booked a showing within two days and 30 minutes after we left the property we were under contract. There was a lot of interest in the property and I believe our offer was accepted because of an unusual concession we included. The owner wanted an extended closing over 120 days so his daughter could stay at the cabin while she finished school. We couldn’t agree to such a lengthy closing due to our mortgage lender but we were able to offer to let his daughter continue to have access to the cabin after closing, rent free as long as they paid our cleaning fees. The laws in our state also require rental properties to honor rental agreements for a set number of days when the property is sold so we had a few rentals that we would receive rental income on. I don’t know if I would recommend this to other buyers because there are risks and it could have gone terribly but it worked out fine for us and helped us secure the property below asking. This arrangement did delay our ability to start the desperately needed renovations. At the end of July 2019 we had full access to the property and roughly four weeks to complete our renovations in time for a Labor Day relaunch for rentals.

The original build was from 1970 and the property sold in 2006 to a man who was a cabinet maker. He did a major renovation on the A-Frame including the addition of the stone exterior. Not much had been done to the place after that time and it needed a fresh coat of paint inside and out and we had to tackle all the old T & G. The stain appeared original, was very orangey and made the whole place feel dated and dingy. While we would have loved to sand everything down and start fresh we simply didn’t have the time or budget. We made the call to paint all the walls and T&G a white, Snowbound by Sherwin Williams, and used SW Black Magic for our exterior. If you are facing a short turnaround never underestimate the power of paint! It completely changed the look and feel of the A-Frame and took a dark, dated space into one that felt bright, airy and about twice as big. The paint job was our biggest line item in the renovation as we hired it out to a local company and it also took the longest at 14 full days of labor. As with any renovation, we hit speed bumps and things took longer than anticipated. We also had some unforeseen projects arise. When we were repairing the loft railing we realized all the spindles would have to be replaced. This ended up with us being able to swap out to a more streamlined deck cable that cleared the sight line into the loft and felt much more modern. The white paint completely changed the feeling inside the A-Frame but it made the streaky green stain on our kitchen cabinets look terrible. We ended up buying a paint sprayer and spraying all the boxes, drawers and doors with a week left before our first guests arrived.

What I hope other A-Frame enthusiasts take away from our story is to stay scrappy and persevere! Your dream cabin is out there and don’t let a limited budget or renovation get in the way of realizing your dream. It is so satisfying to see the potential in an existing home and have your vision come to life. This path was much more affordable and sustainable for our family and we are so proud of how we factor into the story of our A-Frame. It is already full of wonderful memories our family and our guests have made and we are excited for many more to be made in the years to come.


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