In the era of DIY tiny houses and low-cost pre-fab homes, one can build almost anything from scratch these days. Building something out of the imagination is not just possible. It is done. And how about a fairy tale cottage, like this one?
Psssh. Perfectly doable. Just ask Dan Pauly, architect and owner of The Rustic Way, a company based in Elk River, Minnesota, specializing in storybook cottages. These are tiny wooden cabins with sloped, shingled roofs and crooked chimneys that look like they came straight out of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.
Pauly is a fourth-generation woodworker. He came from a lineage of Old World artisans, having learned the trade from his father, who learned it from his father, who also learned from his father, Pauly’s great-grandfather. That same great-grandfather was a Swiss immigrant in the late 18oos who built barns for Minnesota farmers.
But how did Pauly get into fairy tale cottage-building? According to Pauly, he left his construction job building high-end houses because he wanted to build a sauna. But not just any sauna. He put a curved roof and a crooked chimney on a wooden cabin and thought it was cool. So cool, that random people knocked on his door asking about the cabin and taking pictures. He continued to work on it to perfect the build, get the appropriate copyrights, and eventually, a business was born. It has since become a family business, with Pauly’s wife doing the landscaping and the books, while Pauly builds the charming little garden sheds, guest cottages, playhouses, saunas, and even outhouses.
But for Pauly, it’s more than just a business. It’s a labor of love. He says the charm of these storybook cabins lie in their power to make people smile and take them back to their childhood dreams.
For his custom-made cabins, Pauly uses reclaimed wood from old structures all over the Midwest, including old barns. The 13-foot-tall, 380 cubic-feet cabins range from $12,000 – $28,000, and attract a lot of buyers from all over the world. The caveat, he only ships within the United States and Canada. His creations are truly unique because of his philosophy: “I think that respect for the craftsmen and craftswomen of the past, and for the wood they used, make a difference in each new piece I create”.
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