interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: dave allen of artefact design & salvage

by Amy Azzarito

when dave allen saw this little 900 square foot house in the woods above napa, it had been abandoned and left open and was basically uninhabitable, but there was something magical about it and david decided to take the plunge. the house had been built in the 1940s as a summer cabin. since the home’s paper-thin walls and questionable foundation make a remodel impractical, david intends to eventually build a new structure on the site. in the meantime, he looked for inexpensive ways to make this summer cabin comfortable and liveable – and when he does build his new space, you can bet he’ll salvage everything possible from this one! {thanks dave! and thanks to adrian gregorutti for the photos!}

[I’m completely happy in my unheated hideout, drawing water from an above ground spring and sharing with the space with bats and raccoons. Bonus features that bring me daily pleasure include a creek and a mountain (which, as it seems to be unclaimed, I’ve informally annexed). My nearest neighbors are the vineyards of the famous Hess Winery. Down the hill in my Sonoma showroom, Artefact Design & Salvage. I tend toward overscale and unusual objects displayed rather dramatically. At home I simply want to surround myself with meaningful objects. So in my wee cabin my only ongoing conscious design consideration is trying to keep the ambience calm and uncluttered despite layers of favorite objects competing for attention everywhere in the tiny space.]

The kitchen had been stripped of everything and was just an empty alcove. I brought in Ikea cabinets and had a friend pour the raw concrete countertop. Ceiling is corrugated aluminum, flooring is simply painted subfloor.The painting is by Roger Groth. I have a little frog living in the staghorn fern (Platycerium Superbum) just under the gold corncob trophy. Last summer when I discovered him I put him outside, thinking he’d been trapped by accident. But a few days later he was back. We’re now old friends and on warm evenings he croaks happily.

Painting by Mark Hobley. Corrugated aluminum siding from Home Depot. Buddha collection, gilt angel wings are Italian antiques.

Skylight is original, though I did have to re-sheetrock the ceiling to get rid of the mold. The oversize armoire is salvaged from a textile mill in India, and the bookshelves I out of scaffolding frames I found in Belgium.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Dave’s peek after the jump!

Carved column from Rajastan. Painted surface has a particular ancient crustiness unique to India. Overhead beam is salvaged California Redwood. I had these lying around and installed them here simply to add a bit of intrigue.

Original pine paneling above stairs which lead to a narrow utility room and basement below. Fragment of a gilt pier mirror from a burnt Baltimore mansion hangs above the (1967 Gretsch Country Gentleman) guitar. Zinc balustrade is from Paris Flea Market


Limestone putti heads, architectural terra cotta fragments, Italian marble panel and antique Italian gilt fruit swags

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  • This is a great sneak peek. I love the aesthetic and also the intention of living simply with nature and with beautiful/meaningful objects around you.

  • You are a master of restraint, Dave – I know you must have a ton of great things and the cabin looks perfect – not too much, not too little. I will have to take a trip to your shop soon. This house is my favorite place I’ve seen.

  • What a amazingly creative, beautiful hideout you have made there, I do jewelry design from my home and omg i would love to have something like that to work from! your are so blessed to have found the place!

  • This cabin is charming! I really love the piece in the very first photo, hanging to the left of the windows above the jars. Is that an original piece? I’d love to see a larger photo.

  • I love everything about this place, aesthetically. But I question the environmental soundness of using architectural antiques shipped in from other countries. Those things weigh a ton. I know it is a common practice, and I am not saying any person should or should not do it. I am responding to the commenters here who are lauding this kind of re-use in environmental terms.

  • This is one of my favorite sneak peeks by far. The architectural salvage from around the globe is inspiring and makes me so…happy! I want to slouch on that beautiful leather couch with a cup of tea and listen to the frog!

  • The cabin is amazing looking. What a jewel! Please can you tell us what the name of the Ikea cabinets is? Are they metal or metallic? They look it in the picture. The poured concrete counter is so nice looking, but I would imagine very porous and easily stained, right. Is it practical for use, or is there a sealer that’s applied once, or maybe regularly? I’m curious, thanks

  • Whaaa, this is so great! Sharing your space with the animals and being in the middle of nature! For a temporary solution the place looks absolutely stunning. I can imagine most people won’t put any effort in making it so nice if they have other plans with the site.

  • love the setting. idyllic for creativity and getting back to nature … living in nyc makes me dream of spaces like this one …

  • I cannot have enough of this enchanted place! Everything is meaninful and works together> You are right Dave! There is magic in the air there. Enjoy!

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