Hunker Down This Winter With Modern Cabin Style

Cosy cabin style is something we can all conjure up an image of with ease; plenty of timber, a roaring fireplace, small windows, modest-sized rooms and stacks of woollen blankets.

But, this rustic look is not what we’re talking about here. Modern cabin style takes this humble, comfortable vibe, and ramps up the sophistication (just a notch). Today, Interior design guru Lauren Li shows us how it’s done!

Lauren Li

What this cabin lacks in amenity (plumbing and electricity!) it sure makes up for in the incredible pivoting doors. Designed – Jacobschang Architecture. Photo – Noah Kalia

Modern cabin style calls for a light touch when it comes to wood. Design – Workstead. Photo – Matthew Williams.

Whilst traditional cabin style would call for wood on the walls, floors, ceiling and furniture, modern cabin style asks for less. Design – Workstead. Photo – Matthew Williams.

The off-formed concrete fireplace is cleverly incorporated into the kitchen. Groningen Cabane Garden House. Photo – Gaelle le Boulicaut

Modest sized spaces define cabin style, and this doesn’t change when it comes to modern cabin style! Design _ Commune Design. Photo – Stephen Kent Johnson

Mix materials so traditional wood doesn’t dominate the space. Design _ Commune Design. Photo – Stephen Kent Johnson

Contrast rustic wooden elements with sleek matt acessories, such as this floor lamp. Design – Workstead. Photo – Matthew Williams.

A simple yet stylish cabin is an antidote to a world where phone notifications constantly buzz and there are always things to do. This is owned by the co-director of the highest-grossing movie of all time (it’s Anthony Russo and the movie is Avengers: Endgame) and it’s fair to say that for someone that could have a house complete with all of the bells and whistles, he has chosen a tiny cabin, bursting with charm. Design _ Commune Design. Photo – Stephen Kent Johnson

Although this living space may have a small footprint, the high ceiling creates a wonderful volume. Design – Placement Architecture. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

A natural material palette is elevated by the use of simple forms and a restrained use of wood. Photo – Tom Ross. Styling – Jess Kneebone

A white wall panel helps to break up a floor-to-ceiling wood look. Design by – Smith Architects. Photo by – Clinton Weaver.

Using timber on the ceiling and front door against white walls and concrete ceiling really warms up the interior seen at this Casa Cook hotel in the Greek islands. Design by Annabell Kutucu. Photo – Georg Roske

This entirely modular house in Russia (it even comes with furniture and down to the cutlery!) features a large window that really brings the outdoors in. Design – Bio Architects. Photo – Arseny Rossikhin

This house looks out into the National Park, which makes the living area feel like you are immersed in nature. Architecture – Billy Maynard. Photo – Rory Gardiner

Angular forms of this fireplace shows-off the expertise of the numerous collaborators that architect Billy Maynard worked with. Photo – Rory Gardiner

‘You’ll want large windows so that in winter you feel immersed in the outdoors and watch the weather change,’ says Lauren. Designed – Jacobschang Architecture. Photo – Noah Kalia

Lauren Li
3rd of June 2022

As soon as the slightest tinge of orange appears on the leaves I get cabin fever. Not that claustrophobic, irritable kind of cabin fever. The kind of cabin fever that has me searching for hours online for a cosy cabin getaway surrounded by trees.  Bonus points if there is a lake.

By the time winter rolls around, I become quite obsessed with finding the ‘perfect’ cabin to stay and I have quite a few criteria that this cabin must meet. They are not the kind of amenities that are searchable online rather, they are intangible things like cosy yet modern, stylish yet unpretentious. I want this perfect cabin to be comfortable on both body and eyes. Basically, it needs to look gorgeous. It should be contemporary, yet not cold.

In fact, the ideal cabin should have less things. I want to feel immersed in nature and live minimally. I don’t need a huge TV when there’s a stack of books and a reading nook. I’ll make-do cooking a simple dinner that doesn’t require access to an extravagant butlers pantry. I won’t even mind if there is no internet so long as there is a pretty creek to walk along instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone.

I want to sink into a plump sofa and instead of merely reading an interiors magazine, I want to feel like I’m actually inside a space worthy of a magazine.  Too much to ask? Maybe. Here are a few key elements for a dreamy modern cabin look.

Refined Wood

A true cabin isn’t a cabin unless there is a lot of wood. It’s the traditional cabin material after all. Timber floors, wood-panelled ceiling and walls, timber beams, wooden furniture… and, of course, fire wood!

I’m sure you’re already conjuring a ‘log cabin’ vibe in your head, but I’m going to stop you there, because for a modern cabin look, we’re using some restraint. Instead of using wood on all of the above, just pick one or two key surfaces where timber will star. And, the timber itself should not all be super rustic and rough, it should be refined and clean. Avoid reddish tones, and go for blond or walnut tones instead.

Use wood in a simple and sophisticated way,  to add texture and warmth to materials such as stone, concrete and plaster. Adding contemporary light fittings in metal or brass instantly elevates the cabin from ‘woodsy’ to modern.

Where there’s Fire

A true cabin needs a fireplace – another newsflash that you didn’t see coming!

For a modern cabin look, the fireplace can be stone, but not a stacked stone, rather it should be smooth stone slabs. If it’s brick, it shouldn’t be a rough clinker brick, instead go for a smooth Belgian style brick, or paint it.

In an ideal world, a wood burning fireplace will give you that gorgeous smoky scent, crackling sound and the option to toast the odd marshmallow or two. However we’re not judging if you wish to simply push a button to turn on the gas fireplace. After a few winters of managing a wood burning fireplace the novelty can wear off (IYKYK).

Large Windows

One key differentiator between traditional ‘log cabin’ vibe, and the ‘modern cabin’ look is the size of your windows. A modern cabin tends to be characterised by bigger, architectural windows, and in turn, an even greater connection to nature.

Large windows allow you to be immersed in the outdoors, and watch the weather change with the seasons. Also, somehow looking outside into the chilly winter landscape makes you feel even cosier and enhances that ‘hygge’ feeling. Meanwhile, during summer, you want to be able to let the light in and open the cabin out to the outdoors.

Of course, bigger windows means less energy efficiency, so consider a high performance triple glazed window, and make sure that you install good quality curtains to keep the winter chill out.

All the Small Things

Unlike their counterparts ‘the ranch’ or ‘the farmhouse’, when it comes to cabins, the smaller the better.

Charm is multiplied the smaller the space is. We’re not aiming for expansive lounges with adjoining rumpus rooms and home cinemas, the cabin is where the whole family hunkers down together to play Uno. We get cosy and in true ‘hygge’ fashion, we spend time together.

As one of my design heros, Steven Johanknecht from Commune Design, said; ‘Sometimes a small space is the perfect size, and the pleasure of a home where you use and enjoy every room is a way of living a luxurious life surrounded by what you love and the life you have collected.’

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