The Riverside Holiday Cabins That Friendship Built

Friends who build stay together. At least that is what four couples, who have been best friends for years, are hoping with their four personalized cottages on a combined piece of property in Llano, Texas, about an hour from Austin. The group of eight has increased their families together with one another because college and have been going on holiday each year together. They pooled their funds to buy a unique place where everyone can congregate yearly, settling on a granite-strewn 10-acre lot close to the always-flowing Llano River, where angling, canoeing, tubing, fishing and swimming are everyday pursuits.

At first they spoke about building one big house for everyone to share about the house. But everyone’s individual needs didn’t get them much. Instead, together with all the creative assistance of architect Matt Garcia, they assembled individual 350-square-foot studio cottages suited to each family, all sharing an identical layout ethos: low tech, low care and high design. Here’s a tour of a few of those cottages.

at a Glance
Who lives here: That is a holiday home to get a husband and wife. (Three other families live in similar nearby cottages)
Location: Llano, Texas
Size: 350-square-foot studio
Budget: $40,000 per cottage

Photos by Alexander Stross

The cherry roof cantilevers 6 feet outside, developing a front overhang. The corrugated metal exterior contrasts with a hot plywood layout interior.

Four-by-8 sheets of plywood were used for all the cottage interiors to save cost and include character. “Nobody wanted slick white walls,” Garcia says. “We wanted to do a modern form with rustic information.” The grain also adds a textually graphic element and a vibrant golden color.

The homeowners who discuss this cottage both work at a landscape design company — he’s the designer; she’s the office supervisor. Instead of closed cabinets, they needed everything to be on screen, with a few baskets to help arrange. Many of the cottage owners are in the paper business, and another one is a writer, so desk space was significant. Plus, all the buddies are avid readers, so lots of space for books was crucial.

The modules are 30 feet deep, with large front windows which look out toward the Llano River, about 100 metres away. The interior design components, such as the exposed rafters, were deliberately kept simple. “We needed to keep the building fair and not cover anything up,” Garcia says. “We wanted it rustic and fair, to expose everything.”

The floors are poured concrete with a semigloss sealer. Garcia didn’t desire something supershiny but did want it to reflect and bounce light, making soft reflections of the vegetation out.

Steel angled shelves bolted into the wall grip the couple’s books.

Two sets of windows are on either side of the cottage to bring in light but keep privacy. Not one of the neighbors could see into another’s cottage from their own.

The furniture is pieces that the homeowners have had in storage for years. “The couples were excited to finally be able to use furniture they hadn’t used in quite a while,” the architect says. Designer Jodi Jacobsen did all the interiors. She moved with industrial light fixtures.

There’s a mini fridge and a hot dish in a corner of the tub. The glass and metal sconces are the very same ones featured on the exterior.

Each few chose another tile colour for their cottage. Here grey is dominant, emphasized with a black stripe.

Jacobsen had initially found mirrors she enjoyed for $750 each at Restoration Hardware, but Garcia had a steel fabricator buddy bend flat bar to make this model; the cost was $200 for all four.

After moving in, the cottage owners found that they needed additional storage in the kitchen to get mugs and glasses. Garcia came up with this shelving system made from plywood with threaded bars and nuts which imitates the style used on the cantilevered section of the roof. “I needed it to speak to this detail out,” he says.

Learn how to make a similar industrial-style shelving unit

Rainwater collection tanks are attached to each cottage and help irrigate the surrounding vegetation area. Electricity, heating and air conditioning are also available in each unit.

Even though the four couples’ cottages are near together, they are still afforded lots of solitude. And despite a steep, rugged property, the landscape designer managed to discover a level place that allows the units share the exact same elevation.

A group trip to the Llano River, shown here, is exactly what spurred the idea for those buddies to build holiday cottages together.

Tell us : Have you socialized with buddies on a holiday getaway?

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