A log yoga studio doubles as charming cabin guest quarters.

Story by Donna Peak | Photography courtesy of Renee Lavallee


Zoning laws prohibit a property from having two residences, so the structure doesn’t have a kitchen. It does have a cozy firepit for cool Michigan nights.

Since 2014, there’s been a hidden gem along Lac Vieux Desert in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Tucked deep inside Renee and Tom Lavallee’s 150-acre plot of lakeside woodlands and located one mile from their house, sits a sanctuary crafted from impressive 14- to 16-inch western red cedar logs and filled with Zen.

The walk to Renee’s Yoga Studio is as peaceful and meditative as a little time spent in “downward dog,” and when the roughly 300-square-foot structure reveals itself, it’s like you’ve found a slice of Nirvana. Though the couple’s main house is traditional stick-frame construction, Renee always wanted a little cabin in the woods. “I tied my love for log homes to my love for yoga,” she explains.


The small but versatile space serves as both private yoga studio (above) and as a guest retreat, complete with a loft bedroom and a Murphy bed that pulls out from the open room’s central cedar-clad wall (below).



A sign bearing yoga’s traditional Sanskrit greeting welcomes you to this meditative retreat.

exterior cabin woods

Sited about a mile from the main house, Frontier Builders crafted the charming woodlands studio from 14- to 16-inch diameter western red cedar and finished it with a natural stain.


A complex control panel regulates everything from the studio’s music to temperature to humidity. A specialized heating system enables Renee to practice hot yoga, in which the temperature of the space hovers in the upper 90s.

Renee’s demanding job as a physician means making time to decompress that much more necessary. She loves to get away to her private meditation studio every chance she gets, though she does hold sessions for friends and family – especially when her brother-in-law, a certified yoga instructor, is in town. Renee practices everything from Hatha to Vinyasa yoga, but where this cabin’s capabilities truly shine is when they conduct Bikram or “hot yoga” sessions.


Faux painting mimics the look of birch bark in the studio’s one-of-a-kind shower.

“We raise the temperature through a specialized heating system and the wood-burning stove. It gets into the upper 90s in there,” Renee says. A full basement houses the studio’s mechanical systems, pumping the high heat through floor vents.

To keep the high temps from potentially damaging the log walls, she opted for a Nortec humidity system — the kind professional studios use — to keep moisture levels to 50 percent or less.

“We also were very careful with our vapor barriers and the cabin’s sealants at every level, especially the roof,” explains Dan Wait from Frontier Builders who took charge of the project.

“Also the Velux roof windows are solar powered and the automatic operators remotely controlled, so that once a yoga session is complete, the temperature and humidity can be evacuated quickly.” Cedar panels on the ceiling and interior walls complement the logs and keep with the organic feel of the space.

When the cabin isn’t being used for restorative poses, it seamlessly transforms to the coziest of guest quarters. The space has two beds — one in the spacious loft and another Murphy bed cleverly concealed on the main level.

The building doesn’t have a kitchen (local zoning laws prohibited more than one “residence” on any given lot at the time — a mandate that Dan helped Renee resolve to ensure the structure would be approved), but it does boast a very unique bathroom complete with a faux-birch shower.

“It gives you the feeling like you’re showering outdoors, but you’re not,” Renee says.

The butt-end of a log was converted into a one-of-a-kind sink. Expanses of insulated glass create natural, ever-changing murals for the studio, while underneath it all, stunning black walnut floors lay the foundation for relaxation in Renee’s peaceful retreat. Namaste.


In a nod to the origin of the studio’s primary building material, a group of Renee’s (front center) friends and family appropriately hold “tree pose.” The gleaming floors are black walnut.