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Updating a 1950s cabin for 21st-century living

Two families’ memories converge in a tiny cabin near Mount Gretna. Don Witter and his father built it, hauling every log to the site from local woods, and for more than 60 years it was their family’s getaway.

Aaron and Steph Barr recently bought the cabin and, with the help of Annville designer Anastasia Laudermilch, they’ve put their own stamp on the hideaway.

“While in the Air Force in World War II, my father kept dreaming about building a cabin,” Witter says. “Finally, in 1954, he bought some land, and he and I went to work. I was 8. We hired a bulldozer and cleared the land, built the foundation incorporating local rocks and used chestnut logs from blighted trees.”

“We hadn’t thought about a cabin when we bought a 22-acre tract,” says Aaron Barr. “We just wanted some land where we could enjoy the outdoors. But then when Don, our neighbor, offered us the cabin, we fell in love with it.”

A budget makeover

When the project began, Laudermilch says, “It was basically one primitive room and it needed definition and updating.

“And it was the kind of project where a fancy budget is inappropriate. Creativity was in order.

“Using panels of corrugated steel, we created privacy for two bedrooms and separated the kitchen. The panels were inexpensive and provided an industrial vibe, a wonderful contrast to all that warm wood. We cut a ‘window’ in the steel for an intriguing look right from the front door to the bedroom. Aaron Barr’s childhood sled and skis became wall decor.”

In the kitchen, cabinets were painted orange for a color pop that was continued on a living room chair. Track doors to the bathroom created a barn door look, and inside the bath the unusual furnishings include an antique wood table with a vessel sink and a corrugated steel-framed mirror.

Laudermilch repurposed a door as a headboard, hung drapery panels from steel rods and used steel pendant lamps to amp up the industrial look.



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