Returning to one’s childhood home as an adult can be a disorienting experience, but architect Greg Dutton, cofounder of Midland Architecture, has figured out how to do it with all the fun and nostalgia—and none of the awkwardness: He simply built a new guesthouse on his parents’ property, so that he and his siblings would have a private, peaceful, and grown-up place to retreat to on their visits home.
“It’s located on my parents’ farm in eastern Ohio. It’s about 2,000 acres where they raise a breed of Wagyu cattle called Akaushi,” says Greg. “We’re a large family and the kids are all spread out, so we use it as a place to stay when we’re back home visiting our folks or just want to get out of the city and be in nature.”
When his parents purchased the vast property in the Ohio Valley, it was originally part of a strip mine, and through their stewardship, it has now been reclaimed by forest, grasslands, and lakes. Not surprisingly then, top of mind for Greg was that the 600-square-foot structure be built with sustainability in mind. To that end, the cabin relies on solar panels for power and a rainwater collection system for the plumbing.
“The project came together really quickly. I designed it in about a month. Once we broke ground, it took about five months to build,” says Greg, who enlisted his brother, father, and various friends to help. One particularly motivating factor: He and his wife were expecting their first child at the time. “Luckily, we wrapped the project about a week before he was born.”
Below, he walks us through the nest he designed and built with love.
Above: The hut-like guesthouse sits atop a wooded bank overlooking a lake. (As kids, he and his siblings used to hike here.) Untreated cedar shingles make up the exterior and will eventually turn gray over time. From the project description: “Heavily influenced by aspects of farming, the cabin was constructed using building techniques born out of tradition and logic, with simple materials used economically.”
Above: The Scandi-inspired interiors feature Ponderosa pine shiplap wall paneling, painted Sherwin Williams’ Pearly White. And, naturally, Ikea makes an appearance in the form of three Sinnerlig pendant lights and a coffee table (now discontinued). The Bernt Petersen lounge chairs are vintage.
Above: A painting by Bertrand Fournier hangs above a vintage Borge Mogensen 2213 sofa. “It’s a design I’ve always loved and when we had the chance to get one, we jumped on it,” says Greg of the sofa.
Above: Two vintage Kentucky stick chairs (sourced on Etsy) are situated for optimal forest bathing: in front of floor-to-ceiling Andersen windows and an Osburn Matrix wood stove.
Above: “The pine flooring was a steal. At less than $2 per square foot, it was a huge budget saver and allowed us to splurge in other areas of the project,” shares Greg. In the simple kitchen, dowel hooks found on Etsy line a wall.
Above: The cabinets are painted Sherwin Williams’ Greenblack. “I designed the cabinets and had them built by makers in Ohio Amish country. We design custom cabinets for mostly all of our projects. It’s one of my favorite things to do,” says Greg. The wooden knobs are by JBplusDG on Etsy.
Above: The white oak countertop and shelving was made by his best friend from elementary school.
Above: The sole bedroom enjoys plenty of natural light thanks to a skylight and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. A vintage wicker chair and a table by Sun at Six anchor one corner.
Above: Unpolished black mosaic tiles from Daltile were used for an accent wall in the bathroom. The 21-inch sink is by Eago USA; the faucet, from Kohler’s Purist Collection. (See 10 Easy Pieces: Modern Wall-Mounted Bath Sink Faucets for similar faucets.)
Above: White mosaic tiles cover the rest of the walls. A vintage wooden ladder, used as a towel holder, adds some warmth to the room. The shower fixtures are by Signature Hardware.
Above: “We collect the rainwater off of the solar panel shelter. The water is fed from the gutter on the shelter to a cistern tank buried nearby,” explains Greg.
For more eco-conscious homes, see: