The Nook is a tiny cabin located in the woods of North Carolina’s Appalachia designed with Scandinavian, Japanese, and Appalachian handcrafted elements to weave local craftwork together with a personal history.

As summer draws to a close, winter is coming and so are the snowy getaways. While there’s something to be said about the slow summer days spent at a family cabin by the lake, cozying up beside a fireplace inside a log cabin somewhere in the woods where there’s snow and a hot cup of tea is still unmatched. In the Appalachian forest of Swannanoa, North Carolina, Mike Belleme, an established documentary photographer, felt inspired to devise his own wintry tiny cabin called The Nook.

Brimming with artisanal goods and artwork of local craftsmen and artists, The Nook was designed to bring the handcrafted touch of the old world into the modern era. Described as a “collection of stories,” Belleme designed The Nook to link his personal history to the surrounding forest and architecture of the cabin.

The tiny cabin is constructed from a collection of locally felled trees that Belleme memorized during a five-year stint spent in the Appalachian woods, during which he learned primitive building skills like creating a path of hand-split logs that leads to The Nook’s front entrance.

The timber that gives rise to The Nook varies between white oak, red oak, black walnut, and black locust all to mirror the trees that surround the tiny cabin. The different gradients of woodwork distinguish the rooms of the cabin. Contained within a mere 400-square-meters, The Nook’s living areas are combined into one and present as a single open volume, with the different rooms demarcated by shifting shades of timber. Where the living room expresses dynamic energy with lofty ceilings and cherry wood paneling, the kitchen keeps a more subdued profile achieved with an intimate breakfast nook wainscot in black walnut.

Striking a balance between different interior design cues and movements, Belleme describes The Nook’s design as a marriage between Japanese, Scandinavian, and Appalachian aesthetics. Just above the stripped-back kitchen, Belleme included a Japanese-inspired tea loft in tribute to his parents’ own living period in Japan, who moved on to launch one of America’s first Miso companies.

Every element of the home embodies a sense of minimalism, craftwork, and earthiness, weaving together Belleme’s personal history that brought him from the tea rooms of Japan to the felled trees of North Carolina. Describing the tiny cabin in his own words, Belleme notes on The Nook’s Airbnb listing, “This house is a collection of stories. Stories of cultural and personal history, ecology, and craft. To celebrate this area’s incredible legacy of craft, we’ve collaborated with some of the most talented makers in the region.”

Designers: Mike Belleme

Darker wooden planks line the floors of The Nook while brighter timber coats the ceilings. 

The Nook’s rear deck was also built by hand. 

The Nook maintains an open interior space by incorporating elements like ladders that bring you from the ground-level living area to upstairs bedrooms. 

An outdoor semi-enclosed bath provides the perfect spot to unwind beneath the tree’s canopies. 

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