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.
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).
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.’