Jun 17, 2014

Modern Prefab Cabin - The Tiny Little Lab Sends An Update!

Dear Modern Prefab Cabin Enthusiasts,

I have been thinking about the modern prefab house that is under construction in the northeast... If you recall, this client is "doing it backwards"- building first the guest house / office of the Dogtrot Mod, then, later this year, constructing the main unit.

The client is A Very Busy Woman. I don't want to bother her, asking for updates, being respectful of our clients' privacy...

So imagine my delight when I opened my email and discovered she had sent me an update on her modern prefab cabin house!

I hope you enjoy her tales as much as I do- they are stories of thoughtful reuse, a life well lived, creatively, joyously appreciating each moment... I especially am grateful that she is allowing us all in while it is under construction before she truly moves and unpacks and gets settled.

It's similar to when we camped, in our own prefab under construction, living there but not, unpacking yet not moved or unpacked, feeling out the spaces and angles and light, to make it truly our own!

"Hello Copeland and Damon,
I've been using the Little Lab more as a retreat than as a home, unwinding completely in the empty spaces, with  the windows open, and listening to the wind and birds.
The occupancy permit was received in early May, although the contractor still had work to do, but it came at the same time as intensive repairs to the old house I live in, including painting jobs I had reserved for myself. But as you know, life is a process and not a finished product, and I've been enjoying gradually cleaning, moving furniture in, and yesterday I started tung oil treatment of birch shelves and doors.

I did want to send you pictures of the rooms relatively empty, before they get filled with "stuff," and a friend stopped by with her camera.

Here are the results. First a long shot of the 7' wide kitchen. The appliances are all ordinary, energy efficient, and inexpensive. That heavy looking hood was chosen because I dislike the huge metal hoods that dominate a kitchen. This Broan model vents out the back, comes with a 4 watt night light and a regular cfl, and can be adapted for controls at wheel chair height. In the main Dogtrot no one will be viewing it from the side as in this pix, and it won't look this ungainly.

The birch countertop is part of IKEA's VARDE cabinet which has 3 large drawers and 2 shelves. The pot on the stove is Norwegian, mid-century, found on the streets of Philadelphia in Society Hill! Wish I had a close-up for you.

2nd pix is of my coffee corner (who'd believe there would be room for one!) shared with Marmoleum stored for the main unit. The Cesca chair rip-off was found thrown out at the university, and of course it needs repairs. The rug is fair trade, purchased from Vivaterra years ago.

3 & 4 are the bathroom shelves made by Joe, a student of the building trades who graduated this spring and is working with my contractor. Birch plywood leftover from the floor was used, and it was 11" wide, just about perfect for this space. I was concerned that people would bruise themselves on sharp corners by the tub, and asked that they be rounded. Well, just look at that perfect job! Joe sanded and sanded; you cannot snag a towel on the edges. He is a good worker and happens to be quite bright.

And that is a teak storage stool from Gaiam, along with their organic cotton towels that have been saved for this special place.
5 is the temporary closet frame built by Joe. Eventually an old upright piano will be moved here, and the closet will be much smaller. Homasote covers the pump and water heater, and, that little piece of wood in the bottom left of the picture is redwood from my cabin on the Mendocino coast of California.

6: Kanjiro Kawaii was a potter who worked with Hamada in Japan, and I read this poem of his at the Palmer Museum at Penn State University when I was experimenting with various paint colors in the Little Lab. So appropriate. Serendipity.
"I paint and paint
And still I cannot spoil
Patterns traced
On the vastness of the sky"
7 & 8: Shots of the bed moved here, a single to take up very little space, with a few handmade, mostly fair trade pillows. The latest is the large indigo-dyed cushion made of hemp by a tribe in Vietnam, on the left.

Oh. I did break down and buy one piece of furniture, the Pavillion black night stand from Crate and Barrel. So glad I did - it has 2 drawers, a shelf for books, and a spacious top for a lamp and clock radio, all in a compact, very attractive shape.

9: Am trying paper on the windows. This was packed around the ph5 and looks ruched (hope that's the right word), like a textile. I like the effect. As you can see, glare is an issue, and the windows do need to be covered.

Copeland, if you use this photo in your blog, please edit out the mess!
(Copeland's note: WHAT MESS?!?  : ) )

This is a long break from moving "stuff," and I must get back at it on this fine June day.
Till next time!"
My own modern prefab house,
off grid, from Green Modern Kits
Turkey not included.

THANK YOU, PREFAB CLIENT, FOR KEEPING US POSTED!!!! It really means so much to me that she lets us in, allowing us all in to her own story, to see and experience her own prefab cabin's individual home site, conditions, lifestyle. I am so grateful. Like my turkey, I enjoy peeping into the windows of other's cool lives!

Back at our own off grid prefab, we ready for summer adventures and the back and forth that, in my family, for which the season calls.  I hope all of our modern prefab house enthusiasts are having a great start to the summer season.

Kind regards,
Copeland Casati
copeland casati
6902 park ave / rva 23226 
804/ 515-7886

...The prefab cabin sister site to

Apr 4, 2014

Prefab Cabin House - Tiny Little Lab Progresses!

I am so thrilled to get an update from the prefab house in the northeast, The Pennsylvania Project!
If you recall, this client is "doing it backwards"- building the smaller unit first, then the main unit later this year.  

She calls her prefab cabin, "The Little Lab."
It's such a beautiful house site. The client is surrounded by meadows and rolling hills... I can't wait to hear about her life there once it's all complete. 

Project Notes: The client used different windows that were spec'd by our prefab house architect, Damon Pearson. 

Here is her prefab house kit update, in her words:
"J. took pictures of the porch yesterday - as you can see, ALL the ice and snow have melted away, and with any luck, life will stay that way.
The porch boards are hemlock from Pennsylvania, a major forest tree for us, but one under serious threat and pressure from the woolly adelgid and other pests.  The boards were planed and tongue and grooved at a mill in about 20 - 30 miles from here.  Hemlock is one of my favorite trees, so graceful and flowing in a breeze, and it is a great joy to have hemlock included in the construction.

... the Marmoleum looks pretty true to character except it is really black. It is CP-2939, SMART certified, a black with a little whitish pattern, and I am trying it out in The Little Lab to see if it disguises the dust and dirt that will probably always be a fact of life when you live in the middle of a field. If it doesn't, a grey will be installed in the bathroom in the main unit. My ideal for the main bathroom is the London Look: black floors, white fixtures, and birch plywood walls, but then you deal with reality.
The yellow paint on the walls is Valspar's Dandelion Wish, a warm, wonderful yellow that is much stronger and redder than in this photo. The combined effect of strong yellow and strong black will be a little over the top for some people, especially when they see the assortment of towels, all different colors, that will be used in this bathroom!

The next picture is of the corner windows with trim and hardware installed."

[A week went by, then more pictures!]
"Walls are ROMA Biodomus Superflat (romabio.com), a very special finish that is luminous and reflects light, in addition to all its healthy properties! I call it a plaster, but it is applied like paint, with a roller or brush. As you know, ROMA tied for 3rd place in the 2013 Cradle to Cradle Product contest. I love it and will try some tints for walls in the main unit.

Floor is finished with OSMO Polyx-Oil, second coat in these pictures. I realize I should buy an American product for this job, but the European air quality standards are so far ahead of ours, I went with the best.
I like the white trim (in the SIP cavity) better than I thought I would, and probably will stay with it in the main unit.

Third picture shows the 275 year-old White Oak, beyond.

Rest of floor and interior doors going in today.

The closet wall in main living/bedroom.  A chance to experiment with different whites and blues to use in the main unit.  The ceiling and 1 foot down is covered with the Biodomus Superflat, & you can see the boundary line I left between the plaster and paint.  Drywall compound needed to be covered, hence the blue in the middle of the wall & white paint on drywall screws.

Formaldehyde-free birch plywood on the floors.
IKEA sink - long and narrow - that echoes the shape of the bathroom, IKEA faucet;  Valspar Dandelion Wish on the walls. more orangey than in the photos;  Smart Certified Marmoleum real CP-2939 on the floor is doing a good job hiding boot prints.

IKEA kitchen cabinet and Domsjo sink with new model Moen Align faucet.  The high faucet looks surprisingly good with the small 24' cabinet, I think because the cabinet is on legs.  Will not look as good when doors are put on because IKEA stopped making flush birch doors (damn).  I gave up - the doors will be flush white.  Tested a blue on the wall behind the sink, Valspar Cobalt, samples come in satin, giving a little water protection."
And there you have it! 
We are *very* grateful to this wonderful creative client for sending us an update, we all can't wait to see and read more!!!!

Jan 31, 2014

Green Cabin Kits Modern Prefab Project Update!

I am so thrilled to begin sharing with you the progress of the passive solar modern prefab from our Green Cabin Kits modern prefab line being built in the northeast! This client is incredibly creative with impeccable modern taste, is passionate about the environment, and thoughtful in every aspect of her home so I am very excited to share with you her modern prefab house as it is constructed, as she sends updates.

Note: This client is a *very* busy woman who is involved with environmental advocacy. Because of her schedule, she tells me her missives will be sporadic, but I hope not- I can't wait to see what she does!

To follow and view this modern prefab home in the upper northeast project, click here!