Years ago, entrepreneur Blair Paterson, her designer brother, and their siblings were in the planning stages of building a family lodge in Northern California. But when the group got into designing the bedrooms, they reached an impasse. How many bedrooms would there be, and where would they go? Blair’s brother and a few other siblings put together a few prototypes for a tent-cabin while the lodge-planning continued. “We decided we liked these and enjoyed having separate spaces,” Blair recalls. The lodge went forward—it’s now a big common space for the family camp—but the tents ended up staying, and a business was born.
Sweetwater Bungalows are available in models that range in size from 120 square feet to 280 square feet, and cost between $4,500 and $9,400. The pre-fab, semi-permanent structures are made of flame-resistant polyester vinyl, and the roof is canvas so the structure can breathe. No, these can’t replace hard walls. They’re best in temperate climates (“a good 70% of our business is on the West Coast,” says Blair), and compost toilets and an outdoor shower are necessary. But for clients who are in the throes of remodeling or new construction and want to be on-site during the project, a pop-up cabin like this could be a good thing. Sweetwater has just introduced a new version, the Vista, which comes complete with 7-foot-high walls, a gabled roof with an 11-foot peak, and framed French doors. Included in the kit are windows that are 4-foot-by-4-foot clad vinyl with glass panes; eave and awning systems are available, too. The tent-cabin must be built on a platform and though the lumber isn’t included, the platform plans are. So are step-by-step instructions and all the hardware.