Building code in Wyoming limits guest houses to 1,000 square feet. Architect Andy Ankeny praises the code as a good way to help preserve land, but admits that it makes his job more challenging. One technique he employs to maximize floor space is adding built-ins. The conversion of a historic log cabin into a guesthouse offers a good example. The client wanted the entire 600-square-foot cabin as living space, so Ankeny had to squeeze bathroom, bedroom, and circulation into the remaining 400 square feet. Built-ins occupy an entire wall in the 12-foot-by-12-foot bedroom. Shelves, cabinets, drawers, and a daybed offer a variety of functions. Ankeny used the built-ins to frame a window alcove that prevents the room from feeling boxy. “The shelves are on plane with the exterior of the wall,” he explains, “and the window seat bumps out to get full daybed depth. It let us bring the ceiling down to the window header for added coziness.”

Recycled snow fencing was speced for the built-ins and finish material for walls and ceiling. This reclaimed material is abundant in western states and can be purchased from several suppliers. The wood develops a silvery patina that’s rustic but not too dark for this small room. Subtle patches of reds, browns, and greens add warmth to the mostly gray hues. Ankeny credits cabinetmaker Eric Huyffer for taking extra care to mill the salvaged boards into level planks, resulting in smoothly functioning built-ins. “The more we can build something in,” the architect says, “and the fewer materials you have, especially in a smaller space, the more cohesive and better it feels.”