Are Micro Cabins the New Tiny Houses for Explorers?
by Yasmine Shemesh
It’s only a 40-minute ferry ride to Langdale from Horseshoe Bay, but there’s something about sailing towards the Sunshine Coast, something about leaving the bustle of the city behind you as you glide towards the promise of peacefulness. It makes the journey feel at once momentous and serene.
The sky is wide and streaked with pink as the sun begins to set into the peaceful waters of the Salish Sea. It’s deep navy by the time we dock. Ten minutes later, it’s completely dark in Roberts Creek. When my partner and I turn our car down the lane off of Marlene Road, the only light on the property is the glow from the exterior of the Micro Cabin, our home sweet home for the night.
At just 125-square feet, the cedar cabin is surprisingly spacious. Big windows, a loft and a thoughtful layout makes it feel wonderfully cozy. It’s also immaculately clean. Karen, the owner, left a note for us on top of a few pamphlets and a binder filled with recreational recommendations for the area.
What strikes me the most is the quiet—we’re far away from the constant hum of the city. The windows look out to wilderness. Karen’s family lives close by, but you’d never know. It feels perfectly secluded. Wood floors, candy-coloured curtains and oak furnishings like an old medicine cabinet make it feel homey and familiar. A wood ladder leads up to the bed. The kitchen counter is high, with shelves underneath for kitchenware and cooking utensils. On the windowsill are crystals, a flower pot and a mug filled with rocks with sentiments like “love” painted on them in swirls.
I pour myself a glass of wine and pad over to the bookshelf across from the front door. Along with binoculars and a great selection of board games is an impressive literary collection. I pull out Remembering Roberts Creek,a historical account of the little community.
I turn up the heater, wrap myself in a soft, nut-brown wool blanket and curl up on a chair. As I sip my wine, I’m lost in anecdotes about logging pioneers and the nostalgic poetry of Hubert Evans, a local writer.
In the morning, the sun gleams in the windows from all sides. Such abundance of natural light is warm and calming to wake to. We climb down the ladder, press some coffee and savour the moment.
The cabin is even more beautiful in the daytime: the wood appears smooth and rich, the forest outside looks more lush and the garden bursts with aptly growing fruit and vegetables.
Before we leave to spend the rest of the day wandering the nearby rocky beaches, Karen, her husband Ryan and their three-year-old daughter, Penny, walk down to meet us for an interview. Throughout our conversation, Penny picks wild blueberries and offers her harvest to us. The berries are sweet, just like her and just like the cabin.
Note: Conversation has been edited for clarity and length
How did you get the idea for the Micro Cabin?
K: It didn’t come about on purpose. I gave my neighbour a set of French doors and in return, she gave me an eight-by-10 cedar garden shed. Ryan’s a carpenter so he put it together, transformed it, raised the roof and added the porch.
I wondered if you’d worked with an architect, because it feels so spacious.
R: I’ve been a carpenter for almost 20 years, so I faced it like another project. I was actually making it as a little den for myself, and then it developed into a playhouse for our daughter, until Karen decided to rent it out.
How long have you been using it as an Airbnb?
K: A few years. And before that, we rented it out to local wood working students who study at the school here. I lived in Japan for a long time, so I started to think about their good use of space.
What things were important to keep in mind when it came to space? I noticed there are a lot of windows, to get that natural light in.
K: That was really important, natural light. And a view of nature, so you feel like you’re outdoors even though you’re inside.
Little touches like the curtains and the medicine cabinet make it feel so cozy.
K: That medicine cabinet is from Ryan’s old place, which was Henry Roberts’, one of the original homesteaders of Roberts Creek.
Speaking of which, I wanted to ask you about the history of the property. It was the site of the very first school?
K: One of the very first schools, Elphinstone Bay Elementary, was across the street. And so this was built for the first school teacher, Irene Smith, in 1926.
And that’s the house that you guys live in?
K: Yeah, it’s a log cabin. The wood was logged from the property to build the house, which I guess makes it extra resistant to local weather, because it’s local wood. We also have an orchard. That’s asparagus there, blueberries, raspberries, rhubarb and lots of medicinal plants.
I would imagine you meet a lot of interesting people.
K: We meet so many people. That’s been one of the best things about the cabin. It’s been great. We’ve hosted people from all over the world. The coast can be kind of isolated. I have two teenagers, so I really love that it exposes them to people of all types. And they get to see love in all of its different forms, too. And still, they can see everybody has coffee in the morning.