News Home & Design 'The Nook' Is a Magical, Rentable Cabin Inspired by a Love for Trees It features two lofts, and even a swing. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published April 18, 2022 02:00PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Mike Belleme Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive A mere 400 square feet may not sound like a lot, but with some design ingenuity and a conscious intention to keep things simple, and directly connected with nature, it can do wonders for such compact dwellings. Located in Swannanoa, North Carolina, The Nook is one of these cozy (and rentable!) cabins that succeed in fusing a sense of outdoorsy intimacy with a beautifully pared-back aesthetic that is reminiscent of Scandinavian and Japanese design sensibilities. Mike Belleme Designed by Asheville, North Carolina-based studio Shelter Collective, the cabin was built in collaboration with documentary photographer Mike Belleme, who is also the owner of the tiny house. Belleme, an avid lover of nature who envisioned the cabin as an "experiment in storytelling," dreamed of constructing such a cabin after working on a documentary about an intentional community that had him happily living in a treehouse for a period of time. Mike Belleme The Nook cabin is designed to maximize the efficiency of the available space. To do so, the concept centers around vaulting up the roof, stacking up the various spaces vertically, and adding lots of large areas of windows so that the space feels much larger than it actually is. As the studio told Treehugger: "The design concept of The Nook centered around efficiency of space and diversity of space. We tried to do this by making as many built-ins as we could so that there was a place for everything and everything in its place. This helped organize the functions and define how to use the space. In terms of diversity of space we did this by defining small pieces of the already small structure with simple architectural moves, like level changes and material changes. In doing this we took what was one room and turned it into ten independent zones dedicated to arrival, transition, eating, cooking, bathing, lounging, sleeping, the outdoors, private loft seating, and a media loft." Mike Belleme Belleme, who is a self-confessed tree enthusiast, made sure to use as much wood that was salvaged from around the site as much as possible. That included fallen specimens of local species like white oak, red oak, black walnut, and black locust, which were milled and transformed into space-saving, built-in pieces of furniture, and trim throughout the project. Mike Belleme Additionally, the studio says that a lot of care was put into making sure the existing mature trees around the cabin were left mostly untouched: "The Nook was sited amongst a mature stand of trees that we wanted to keep as healthy as possible. To avoid cutting out the root ball of the trees that we were adjacent to, we built the structure on piers to minimize the damage. Aside from these tactics, the building is well insulated, and it uses an on-demand system for domestic hot water which is the most efficient considering its size and the type of use it gets as a rental property." Mike Belleme Since the property functions as a short-term rental most of the time, there wasn't much need for lots of storage space, which also helped to keep the overall interior uncluttered. There are some built-in storage options under the bed, as seen here, and some open shelving in the kitchen for food and plates. Mike Belleme The two lofts of the cabin are not meant for sleeping in but are intended to add some special magic to the home. For instance, the media loft, as seen here, not only allows guests to have a cozy time watching films, but also provides a unique viewing point over the rest of the dwelling. Mike Belleme In addition, many of the smaller details and materials here were either bought second-hand, like the large arched window or sourced from local companies or artisans, like the welded iron rail guards, to the art that hangs on the walls. Mike Belleme The tea loft is yet another unique aspect of the overall space. It's not meant to be "useful" per se, but adds an element of serene magic to the design, creating what Belleme calls the "Jappalachian" aesthetic—simple, minimalist, and nature-oriented. Like in any small space design, small details really make the difference here: We love how the artisanal tea caddy pictured here features an extra-long handle so that it can be more easily hoisted up into the loft, from a special shelf in the kitchen below. Mike Belleme As nature-loving retreats go, The Nook is one that is carefully and consciously designed to not only make the utmost of its interior space but also the exterior surroundings of which it is a part. To see more, visit Shelter Collective, and to book the cabin, visit Airbnb.