Reader OMG! – Vanessa’s DIY Cabin in the Woods

Reader OMG! is a series showcasing home tours from my favorite people…The DIY Playbook readers! Every month or so, I highlight the home of someone with some serious design style. I hope that these swoon-worthy spaces will make you say “OMG”…hence the name! It also gives me a chance to feature home styles outside of my own, so you can take away some fresh ideas for your space.

Reader OMG blog series

So far we’ve featured these amazing homes in the series…

Vanessa’s DIY Cabin in the WoodsVanessa's DIY cabin in the woods

  • Homeowners: John & Vanessa and their four kids. John has two boys (ages 10 and 11) and Vanessa has two girls (ages 9 and 11), plus, their dog, Pearl. 
  • Location: The family lives full-time in Arlington, Virginia and this investment property is about two hours away in Wardensville, West Virginia.
  • Home Type: Cabin with two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a loft.
  • Year Built: 2020
  • Describe your Home Style: Cozy, natural, modern.
  • Favorite Spot in your House: In good weather, we love to sit on the main deck, surrounded by trees, and look back at the dimly lit cabin. In cold weather, we love the couch by the gas fireplace.
Vanessa's DIY cabin in west virginia

I was so excited when Vanessa’s submission landed in my inbox because her home and story are so unique. Vanessa and her husband, John, are both attorneys for the federal government and they work in Washington, D.C. They got married in 2018, creating a big blended family with four kiddos and a dog.

They found a piece of property about two hours away from their home with lots of hiking trails, fishing holes, and a growing progressive community and decided to build their own investment property!The girls enjoying their loft in their a-frame cabin

They bought house plans on the internet (I didn’t even know that was a thing…so cool!) and found a local builder to bring their vision to life. Once the crew was done with the main work, John and Vanessa spent months doing the finishing work, like tiling the bathrooms and kitchen, building furniture (John made all of the outdoor furniture and their dining table), and installing trim, doors, and baseboards. They did as much as they could themselves to save money. DIY cabin in the woods

They now enjoy their DIY cabin when they can, but rent it out when they’re not using it to make some extra cash. In fact, if you’re in the area you can check out their listing right here (not currently open). I wish we lived closer so we could book it for a cozy weekend away! And I must give a big thank you to the photographer, Jonlaya from LUEM Photography, for capturing these gorgeous shots of the family and their home.

The ExteriorA DIY cabin in the woods of West VirginiaA cozy airbnb in the woodsDIY outdoor furniture

outdoor picnic table cabin

Vanessa and her Husband enjoying their cabin in the woods

Olympic Elite “Ebony” in  Semi-transparent Stain (Exterior of Home) // Penofin Blue Western Cedar Stain (Front Door)

Vanessa says it feels like you’re in a treehouse when you’re hanging outside the cabin and it sure does look like it. Wow, they are surrounded by so much nature. From the big deck with the outdoor cedar furniture, handcrafted by talented John, to the DIY firepit, with the colorful Adirondack chairs, it truly is the perfect oasis for anyone who loves the great outdoors. My favorite tidbit was learning that they painted the Adirondack chairs a wide variety of colors and allowed each of their children to choose the color of their chair. So sweet!

The Dining & Living RoomA cozy living room in a cabinLarge a-frame cabinLarge DIY outdoor dining room tableLarge ornate chandelier in the living roomGallery wall going up the stairsa-frame cabin in the woodsBookshelf in the corner with games on itDIY dining room table

Paint Color: Benjamin Moore “Cloud White” (all interior walls and floors) // Varthane “Whitewash” (wood ceiling  & trim)

I’ve gotta say, that cozy fireplace is my favorite part of the living room, followed by the ornate chandelier from McFadden lighting, that they chose to hang from the top of the a-frame. Apparently, the fireplace ignites with the click of a button on a remote control and that sounds like the ultimate vacation right there!

The big cozy sofa is from Article as well as the plush leather ottoman on this rug. I loved spotting her DIY marble table (a nod to this old blog post of mine) along with the same black lamp that we have in our living room. (It’s a good one.)

As for the dining table, John made this beauty using Douglas fir and they placed these dining chairs around it. The DIY table is stained with Varathane golden oak gel stain with lots of clear coats of poly on top to give it that glossy finish. In the corner of the dining room, you’ll find an inexpensive bookcase that they painted black to hold lots of games for their guests.

The KitchenOpen shelving in a cabin kitchenMaking cookies in the kitchenThe girls making cookies in the kitchenOpen shelving in the kitchen

Seeing the photos of the girls making cookies with their mom…be still my heart. You can clearly see how much joy this home brings to this family. They are creating lasting memories when they spend time there, away from the rest of the world. The kitchen was another labor of love for John and Vanessa. They used builder-grade cabinets from Lowe’s and painted them the color “Black Spruce” by Dunn-Edwards. They then jazzed them up with these cabinet pulls and soft close hinges.

The fridge was a bit of a splurge, but they were able to save money on the range and hood. The couple also stained and installed the open shelving themselves along with the backsplash tile. Even though it’s a small kitchen, it has everything one needs to cook a meal when away from home.

The LoftThe loft space in this a-frame cabin

Trundle beds for kidsBeing able to push in a trundle bedThe girls enjoying their loft in their a-frame cabinThis loft space is the dreamiest place for kiddos. Between the twin beds and the trundle beds (with these gorgeous blankets), all four of the kiddos can sleep up here. Plus, with the big floor pillows and TV with Nintendo Switch, it’s the ultimate hangout spot. The boys demanded an actual animal head above the beds, so they decided on Leonard the Moose, which is made from resin. So cute and quirky. I can see how families renting the cabin would adore this space.

Upstairs BathroomPedestal sink in a bathroomBold shower tile

They certainly used this sloped space wisely, adding a cool shower and functional pedestal sink. Vanessa told me that “it was crazy town” laying all of the tile, but wow, it certainly looks amazing! I love the bold tile pattern they chose along with the subway tile for the walls.

Full Bedroom #1Pink bedroom in this airbnb

Pink bedroom in the a-frame cabin
Cute little bookshelf in an airbnb
Nightstand and plant

Ready for the sweetest thing about the two main bedrooms? The newlyweds decided to do a little competition, each taking a room and designing it on a budget. This pink bedroom was Vanessa’s masterpiece. She gave the IKEA nightstands an upgrade using this blogger’s tutorial and even DIY’ed the tiny footstool for the faux plant in the corner.

Vanessa opted for this bed frame and rug, this pink bedding, this gold mirror, and these sconces. Oh, and this pretty painting over the bed.

Full Bedroom #2A southwestern style bed in an a-frame DIY cabinCute chair in the corner of this bedroom

Decorating an airbnb that is a cabin in the woodsOkay, onto John’s bedroom design. I feel like there is no clear winner for this friendly competition because both bedrooms turned out awesome. John went with a San Miguel wool blanket because the southwestern design reminds him of his former home in Santa Fe, NM. This is also his fave spot to escape the noise of the family and read a book while visiting the cabin. I personally love the reading corner with all the books and the chair, which they found on deep discount at West Elm.

Bathroom #2

Bathroom in this a-frame cabin in the woods
Wood vanity and black faucet
Lost River and Blackbird tile
Supply closet
Rustic wood vanity

Okay, how freakin’ cool that they wrote the name of the cabin in the shower tile! Vanessa admitted that it took forever, but wow, I think it was well worth the effort. It’s very unique and special. The wood vanity fits so well with the rustic vibe of the cabin. It was actually a purchase they made years ago that didn’t fit in their main home so it sat in their garage for years until they built the cabin! I love how they added some color to the bathroom with this rug and kept the industrial look with the wood shelves and vanity light. And you can tell that they’re thoughtful Airbnb hosts with their organized baskets and bins full of necessities for guests.

Shop the Look – DIY Cabin

cozy cabin style

Sectional // Leather Ottoman // Wool Rug // Black Table Lamp // Dining Chair // Plaid Blanket // Moose Head // Black Sconce // Wood Dining Table  // Cabin Porn Book // Gray Fireplace // Sheepskin // Faux ZZ Plant

John and Vanessa at their DIY cabin in West Virginia

Wow, what a treat that was! I’m so inspired by this power couple and their adorable children. If you’re in the area, I recommend renting out their house for a weekend getaway. If we’re ever around West Virginia, we will know where to stay! Capturing family memories at an a-frame cabinAnd another big thanks to the talented photographer Jonlaya for capturing these beautiful moments.DIY cabin in the woods

Submit Your Home for Reader OMG!Reader OMG blog series

Want to see your home featured on The DIY Playbook? Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Reader OMG!”, including lots of photos of your gorgeous home. My goal is to make the series as diverse as possible, featuring all kinds of family units and different communities (LGBTQ, BIPOC, AAPI, etc.). I have some wonderful homes coming up in the next few months but I would love to add even more to the 2021 schedule. So please reach out!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.