Cabin in the Woods
AIA award-winning architect Chris Sanders updated his family’s hunting cabin to a modern hideout in the Piney Woods
by Hannah J. Phillips
Photographs by Ryann Ford
Hidden in the heart of the Piney Woods of East Texas, scattered cypress trees and loblolly pines surround a family hunting camp affectionately named Little Boggy. The site has served as a gathering spot since the 1940s and was recently updated and expanded by Chris Sanders, of Sanders Architecture, which won an AIA Design Award in 2016 for Juniper restaurant.
For the cabin redesign, Sanders worked with his mother and father-in-law, Ellen and Buddy Temple, to honor the bones of the original home and preserve family history while creating a modern compound to accommodate the growing clan.
“Buddy passed away during the design process,” Sanders says, “so it was nice that we were able to have that time together before he passed, working to satisfy his vision for the cabin as a family gathering space for years to come.”
The building started as a three-room hunting camp, expanding over the decades to include a kitchen, a dining room and additional structures outside. The main intent of the redesign was to add an entertainment room and more sleeping quarters for the Temples’ many children and grandchildren.
“We really wanted to respect the old building,” says Sanders. “There’s a lot of family attachment to it, so the proportions and the form and the materiality of the additions were very sensitive to that 80-year-old structure.”
Sanders worked with longtime collaborator, Killy Scheer of Scheer & Co. Interior Design, to preserve the original building and its materials while also giving the interiors a much needed update. One particular highlight of the new additions is the two-story, three-bedroom guest house with an upstairs screened-in sleeping porch. Oriented on the southeast corner of the building, the porch is intentionally positioned toward southeastern summer breezes and sweeping views across Black Cat Lake.
“All the windows really embrace that lake view,” says Sanders, describing how the arrangement of the new buildings creates a sort of central outdoor court for things like the family Thanksgiving football game. “The family comes here to hunt and fish, so it’s all about enjoying the outdoors.”