Stories from A-Frame Living

A review of The Modern A-Frame, by Ben Rahn

Written by Jenna Collignon, Junior Editor, Matrix Group Publishing

Have you ever dreamed of a home that was entirely unique?  An A-frame style home is exactly that.  Every single one contains its own personality, vibrancy, and a quirkiness that is simply unmatched by other kinds of homes.  The Modern A-Frame by Ben Rahn is a perfect example of these beautiful homes.  His book is divided into sections that are determined not by the style of the A-frames, but by their story.   The people and families that own these A-frames have cherished their homes from the moment they bought or inherited the place.  The stories that Rahn’s book features are filled with unique identities and hearts that have been poured into these gorgeous homes. 

Full Time Simplicity

The stories in this chapter centre around one common element: how these houses have been rescued from neglect and restored to their full potential.  The families and couples that have found these homes, some in such disrepair that they “resemble more of an out-building to the adjacent property than a proper residence in and of itself” (pg 17), have completely transformed them. 

The first story featured in the book is “Kyst Hus,” a story of an A-frame that is home to a family of five on Vancouver Island.  Once it was through its four-year renovation, Kyst Hus reached a point of elegant simplicity and beauty.  Everything had to be modernized within this structure to make it liveable, but now the family enjoys the simple Danish-influenced interior of their A-frame. 

“Calm & Collected” features a picturesque A-frame situated in Long Island, New York.  This property sits on a half-acre of land, and the beautiful wall of windows provides a serene view of the woods that sits on the property.  The couple that purchased and renovated this home had a penchant for A-frames before they moved to the East Coast, and this house that was constructed in 1972 was perfect for them to settle into year-round. 

Rahn’s photography, throughout this section and the rest of the book, is truly the star of the show.  Each home pictured shines from the page in beautiful crisp and clear photographs, highlighting the beauty that these homes portray.

Heritage Homes

This chapter focuses on homes that have stood the test of time, and been loved for decades, occasionally being passed down in the family.  These contain a soul and a heart that the family just couldn’t pass up, especially for the first story in this section: “A-Frame Legacy.”  This story features a home that was kept within the family because the granddaughter could not fathom her grandparent’s vacation home being sold to anyone outside the family.  Inside the A-frame, upgrades done by her father have continued the familial attachment to this beautiful home as well as modernizing the interior for the homeowner and her family.

The second story, “Summer Playhouse,” features one of the only homes in this book that has not been updated or renovated.  This A-frame remains as a time capsule for when it was built in the late 1950s, keeping its “quirky beach house charm” (pg 99).  Because it is enjoyed as a summer getaway for the family, the only modern amenity the home has is an indoor/outdoor shower.  Even though it remains as a picture of the past, this A-frame still holds that beauty that A-frames have.  It connects the family to the outdoors through gorgeous views of the beach just in front of the property.

Artists at Work

From the moment you lay your eyes on an A-frame, its unique triangular shape calls out to a creative soul, and will often attract artists to their doors.
These homes are impeccably designed to match their owner’s personalities, which in turn gives the homes their own personality as well.  Often, these are the homes that are filled with pieces from across the world or created by the homeowner’s own hands.

Each of the stories within this chapter feature homeowners that are in the creative field, from graphic designers to furniture builders, and each home is truly unique.

The third story in this chapter is particularly intriguing.  The original home was built from a Sears kit in 1963 and has been added on and altered from then on.  The property overlooks the Hollywood sign, giving it a classic and beautiful view.  The homeowner, Densanka, styled the house to reflect its 1960s origins while updating it to create an alluring interior.  As an artist herself, Densanka has been able to host workshops and events from her A-frame thanks to the space offered inside.  She and her husband, as well as their son, look forward to calling this cozy A-frame home many years to come.

Nostalgic Escapes

This final chapter features A-frames that are vacation homes in beautiful sections of paradise.  From the island serenity of Fire Island Pines, New York, to the snowy peaks of Whistler, British Columbia, these homes are crafted to be slices of paradise. 

The first story, “Streamlined Serenity,” features a wonderful A-frame situated on a bay-front lot.  After renovating from top to bottom, the homeowners Doug and Bill created a perfectly streamlined home that was nothing less than a sanctuary of relaxation.  Awash in natural light, the home features architecture that is not only functional but elegant. 

Final Thoughts

What truly shines on every page is Rahn’s photography.  The written stories are kept short and sweet to allow for the full-page spreads depicting the interior and exterior of each A-frame to invite readers in. The voice of the book is subdued and allows for the beauty of each place to speak for itself, which is one of the best features a visual collection can have. 

Each story featured within this book is personal and intimate; these people are inviting you into their homes and hearts.  Though each is incredibly different and unique to itself, each has one thing in common: they are all called home. 

Ben Rahn

About the Author

Ben Rahn has been photographing architecture and interiors for more than 20 years. He founded A-Frame in 2003 out of a desire to combine his love of design with his keen photographic eye.  Since then, his work has been recognized internationally and has appeared in a variety of publications.  Ben lived in New York for many years and, as lead photographer, continues to split his time between the Toronto and Brooklyn studios.