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Can you combine a Berkshires log cabin with a contemporary addition?

A family of creative types finds comfort in a log cabin expanded just enough to suit their needs.

The homeowners' son, Mo, shows off his jumping skills while daughter, Maggie, reads at the dining table. The vintage hutch was a Brooklyn flea market find and designer Sisa Suriel calls the Risom rocker “Katherine’s aesthetic to a T.” The rug came with the house.
The homeowners' son, Mo, shows off his jumping skills while daughter, Maggie, reads at the dining table. The vintage hutch was a Brooklyn flea market find and designer Sisa Suriel calls the Risom rocker “Katherine’s aesthetic to a T.” The rug came with the house.Katherine Slingluff Photography

Katherine Slingluff and Andy Stuckey never thought of themselves as log cabin people. Their aesthetic, after all, was fairly contemporary. But when a modest cabin located across the street from a friend’s place in New Marlborough became available, they couldn’t resist.

The couple, artistic souls originally from Alabama, with two children — Maggie, 12, and Mo, 9 — knew they would want to augment the 1,260-square-foot cabin so it could be a gathering place for friends and extended family. They figured the most sensible approach would be to maintain the cabin’s existing layout and earmark the addition for their bedroom. Interior designer Sisa Suriel, a good friend, and architect Jason LaGorga had other ideas.

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“We told them we wanted to tear apart the house, rearrange the rooms, and make the addition living space,” LaGorga says. “Why use the best part as a bedroom when it could be a space everyone could enjoy?”

The clean-lined, 840-square-foot addition complements the cabin without trying to copy it. On the outside, new knotty pine shiplap siding echoes the size, color, and orientation of the cabin’s split-face logs (which they roughed up with a method called corncob blasting). The footprint of the addition angles to follow the river behind it, as necessitated by setback requirements, while the butterfly roof captures the densely wooded view. At Slingluff’s insistence, LaGorga added dormers to the cabin’s upstairs bedrooms to let in light and embrace the river. “It was a splurge, but she was absolutely right,” he says.

A wood-burning fireplace was another must-have. Knowing stone wasn’t in the budget, Slingluff opted for a wall of locally sourced, reclaimed wood. “We left the tie marks from where it was banded as part of the story,” Suriel says. Because the fireplace is a focal point that’s visible from every room, it “encourages you to move through the spaces,” LaGorga says. So does the light from the wall of windows, Suriel adds, while the view “is the grounding force for everything happening inside.”

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Sliding barn doors lead to a snug reading nook that doubles as a guest room. A guest room was a must-have, however the team was hesitant to devote square footage to a space that would only get occasional use. By positioning it off the living area and including a small en suite bath, LaGorga and Suriel created an enclave that offers both privacy and connectivity. Suriel appreciates how the nook, which Slingluff likens to a treehouse thanks to the birch tree wallpaper, captures the couple’s sense of whimsy.

The kitchen sports a funky cement tile floor — Slingluff’s third must-have, in addition to the dormers and guest room — and joins the airy living space and cozy log cabin. Given the room’s central location, LaGorga and Suriel proposed lining the back wall with glass sliders and leaving the area in front of it clear. The configuration, they argued, would ensure easy circulation through the house as well as to the new deck and yard. The owners agreed — they had wanted a banquette — though LaGorga and Suriel could tell they weren’t convinced. They are now: “The slider floods the room with light and when it’s open, there’s a really connected feeling to the outdoor space,” Slingluff says.

The kitchen opens to the log cabin, where the dining table sits against a log wall punctuated by a window. “We left the exterior walls of the cabin natural and selectively painted the interior ones white,” Suriel says. The front half of the room is dedicated to the family’s collection of musical instruments, which include an upright piano, an organ they found at the town dump, guitars, and banjos. In addition to their day jobs as a photographer and a television producer, respectively, Slingluff and Stuckey lead a bluegrass band called Paper Anniversary. “So much of the house was informed by who they are,” Suriel says. “Their creativity comes with a lot of objects.”

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Although the cabin had been intended as a getaway, the family recently packed up their belongings and relocated from Brooklyn to the Berkshires for good. “It’s a great time to see what living outside the city is like,” Slingluff says. “There’s more space to be creative and opportunity to get outdoors.”

RESOURCES

Architect: Design Crossover Architecture and Interiors, designcrossover.com

Interior designer: Suriel Design Studio, surieldesign.com

Contractor: Creative Building Solutions, cbsdaily.com

MORE PHOTOGRAPHS:

The fireplace wall has a concrete ledge that turns into a bench when it wraps the corner. The live edge coffee table came from Suriel’s personal stash and she found the rust-colored stools at HomeGoods.
The fireplace wall has a concrete ledge that turns into a bench when it wraps the corner. The live edge coffee table came from Suriel’s personal stash and she found the rust-colored stools at HomeGoods.Katherine Slingluff Photography
Cole & Son Woods wallpaper lines the nook, which Katherine Slingluff says is “wonderfully cozy” when the barn doors are closed. She did the charcoal rubbing of a tree trunk left in Prospect Park after 
Hurricane Sandy.
Cole & Son Woods wallpaper lines the nook, which Katherine Slingluff says is “wonderfully cozy” when the barn doors are closed. She did the charcoal rubbing of a tree trunk left in Prospect Park after Hurricane Sandy.Katherine Slingluff Photography
The family enjoys the firepit in the 
backyard (they finished the  walk-out basement during the pandemic).
The family enjoys the firepit in the backyard (they finished the walk-out basement during the pandemic).Katherine Slingluff Photography
The kids’ bedrooms are on the log cabin’s second floor.
The kids’ bedrooms are on the log cabin’s second floor.Katherine Slingluff Photography
The addition to this Berkshires log cabin maximizes the comfy factor.
The addition to this Berkshires log cabin maximizes the comfy factor.Katherine Slingluff Photography
Sliders in the kitchen lead to a deck overlooking the river. The pendants are 
from Schoolhouse, and the stools are from Article.
Sliders in the kitchen lead to a deck overlooking the river. The pendants are from Schoolhouse, and the stools are from Article.Katherine Slingluff Photography
In the dining room, nostalgia informed the laminate tabletop for the cast iron legs, which reminded Slingluff of a family beach house in Florida. The homeowners purchased the orange 
painting from David Young when he and Katherine had a portrait show together.
In the dining room, nostalgia informed the laminate tabletop for the cast iron legs, which reminded Slingluff of a family beach house in Florida. The homeowners purchased the orange painting from David Young when he and Katherine had a portrait show together.Katherine Slingluff Photography

Marni Elyse Katz is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.