We just love this rugged high country cabin, situated in the heart of South Island’s Southern Alps. Inspired by the simple elegance of furniture designer, Jens Risom’s holiday home, owner, Kenny Smith, has created a stylish, yet simple backcountry hut, providing his family and, at times, guests, a unique wilderness experience. Verve caught up with Kenny a few weeks ago, check out the interview on the next page.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
My wife and I are both 40, we have two kids, aged 22 and 20. I’m a photographer who works internationally and my wife works in the medical industry.
Can you tell us a little bit about High Country Cabin, how it all happened?
We both love the outdoors and a while back decided we wanted to invest in something that would keep us connected to that. As our kids moved out of home and began their own lives, we wanted to create something that we could all connect with and escape to. There is no better place to use as a base to explore the outdoors than where we are. All four seasons offer everything you’d want to do, mountaineering, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding.
What/who inspired the design of your cabin?
We were inspired by a lot of places. I had been following the tiny home movement and was inspired by eliminating things and space that you don’t really need. We used that thinking to whittle things down to the basics, yet keep the essentials for comfort and relaxation. Out of the cabins around the world that inspired me, Jens Risom’s cabin on Block Island really stood out. I studied what I liked about it and it was the direction lighting from one main window. We used that idea to face the view of the mountain that Ohau Snowfield is on. We’re surrounded by mountain views so you get vignettes of the surrounds through the small windows placed on the other sides as well. One of my strong beliefs is a small dwelling makes you feel part of the landscape much more appropriately than a large one. In fact, the smaller the space is, the more the surrounds come in.
Country Cabin’s best-loved features?
Interestingly features that are not there have become the most loved for us and people who have stayed. There is no TV, and a log burner is the main source of heating. Living outside of town, without broadcast TV and relying on firewood really reconnects you with the surrounding landscape. People also comment on the comfort of the built-in couch, the rustic kitchen, and the hot water pressure after a long day in the hills. There is nothing better than a really good shower!