If you park your car down the unpaved gravel road and walk into what looks like a lining of trees, you’ll step through the wrapper and come out on the other side with a stunning view of the shimmering lake nestled at the foot of a private beach. Sailboats in the distance, sitting perched on a hill overlooking the lake is a stunning two-storey log cabin that was hand-built two generations earlier. This architectural marvel has neighbours, but you wouldn’t know it to look with the naked eye. Its solitude is protected by a fence line of thick brush and trees with the only evidence of other life being the chattering squirrels crawling through them and the birds singing from their branches.
There is no television, no telephone and that’s just the way its owner wants it.
The cabin is a fortress of solitude, an escape from the harsh realities of life. At the cabin, bills never arrive in the mail, there are no unexpected visits from salesmen, and somehow, the stress of daily life floats away as you pull up along its beaten path.
I have fond memories of summers spent at the cabin in my youth. My grandfather would take us to the boardwalk for ice cream in the evenings and the days were spent frolicking on the powdery white sands of the beach. It was our little piece of heaven, and as children growing up with televisions in every room, it seemed like the only place on earth where my sisters and I would play with toys and where our parents could enjoy our company over a family board game as the rain trickled off the shingles of the roof and the petrichor emanating from the surrounding tree line.
The cabin is a second home for those lucky enough to have one. Like any home, how it’s decorated can greatly influence the people inside it. Light, airy spaces can offer a sense of tranquility whereas dingy mothball-scented cottages can evoke thoughts of “where’s the nearest Holiday Inn?” How you decorate your cabin will help to determine how you feel when you first walk through the door and what kind of space you want to use it as.
Types of Cabins and Cottages
There are a few different types of cabins, and each one is best decorated in its own unique way.
Hunting Lodge in the Forest
The hunter’s paradise is often a stone or wood cabin outside the tree line where avid marksmen can spend their days perched in the nearby forest as they hunt for their prey. Typically, the decor in these cottages is quite masculine using antlers, skins and taxidermy as a key component in the decor. Brandy is served by a roaring indoor fire at night, and something by Hemingway is pulled from the bookshelf to be read for the umpteenth time.
Tranquil Beach House
It’s usually quite open with the sea breeze drifting through the open windows. It may have a nautical theme, using oars as art on the walls and blue throw pillows with white anchors on them to add comfort to the white wicker couch. There is a calmness about this cabin and the evenings are spent drinking sangria on the back porch as a fire dances in the pit on the beach.
Cottage in Town
Nestled on a quiet street just off the main drag, the rows of small cabins are a short walk from the beach and the outdoor cafes where you spend your afternoons drinking coffee outdoors. All the neighbours know each other, and it’s not unusual for a dozen of your kids friends to saunter through your yard as they make their way from one cottage to the next. The furniture is from your house in the city before you renovated five years ago. It’s aged, comfortable and a mishmash of styles you call “thrift store style”. It needs work, but that’s constant. In the evenings, you spend your time drinking a cold beer on the back deck with a few friends on the block and then head over to the nearby park to light firecrackers with the kids.
Cozy Cabin in the Woods
It’s away from it all. Even when you give directions, people always get lost. It’s small, humble, but it’s yours. The kids play outside on the tire swing while you sit in the small sitting room playing a game of chess against yourself. Evenings are spent with a dram of old whisky as you hammer yet another nail into the wooden porch step muttering to yourself yet again about how you need to fix the step once and for all. It’s been falling off every summer for the last ten years.
It doesn’t matter what kind of cabin you have. What matters is that it fits your needs, and it becomes a place for you and your family to escape to. It will probably always be a work in progress, but that’s part of its charm. In the meantime, here are some inexpensive ways to really elevate its style and decor.
The Walls and The Floors
A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to really enhance the decor of any cabin. If it’s a log cabin and the interior and exterior are natural, consider a fresh coat of lacquer or a darker stain for a new look. If the walls inside and out are painted, the use of creamy whites and cerulean or navy blues will give it a beachy, nautical style that’s perfect for the lake house. If you spend time on your own in a certain room where you read, drink and listen to old records, consider getting inspiration from the cigar humidor. Use darker colors to give it a masculine appearance or shades of light greys for a more open feel that’s still manly.
For the floors, if they’re hardwood, again consider a fresh stain for a new look. If it’s carpeting that’s getting older or stained you can try and replace it or go the less expensive route and use a staining technique:
How to Stain a Carpet
If you have a carpet with stains, locate the darkest stain and use that as your guide. Then, rent a wet-vac from a local hardware store and purchase dye that’s slightly darker than the darkest stain you found. Vacuum over the entire carpet a few times allowing it to dry in between. By the end, you’ll have a new looking carpet, and the stains will no longer be visible.
Let the Art Speak
Art is a great way to really develop the decor. Plain white walls aren’t impressive, but when paired elegantly with art, they become a backdrop that showcases the decor.
Try and base your art around the type of cabin you own. It should be a mixture of hanging art and standing art. Even some accent furniture.
The Hunting Lodge
In the hunting lodge consider light fixtures made from antlers. A throw rug from a bear skin is a perfect compliment to any room and a large game head over the mantle is one surefire way of showing your love of hunting.
The furniture could be larger, darker leathers like club chairs and chesterfields. Paintings can hang on the walls along with stuffed animals or birds. There is no limit to what can be achieved. Even a gun rack in a hunting lodge can be art.
The Beach House
Open and airy with light reflecting off the white walls. Consider using the water to inspire you. Old oars hanging over the sleek white Ikea couch are a perfect example. A brass diver’s helmet on a side table can pair harmoniously with the navy blue accent pillows propped up on the white sofa. Cozy cream knit blankets keep you warm at night, and a ship’s clock hanging on the wall lets you know when its time to pull the pie out of the oven.
The Cottage in Town
A fresh coat of light grey paint on the walls opens the rooms up. Bright red furniture acts as a focal point with black and white pictures of the town hanging on the walls for some depth. An old record player sits on an accent table, and DIY shelves made from refurbished wooden pallets hold a selection of fresh herbs in the kitchen, family photos in the den and the kids shoes in the mud room. There’s nothing fancy here, but there doesn’t have to be. It wouldn’t be a cabin if there were.
The Cabin in the Woods
Dark burgundy coats the walls of the dining room with a cream trim and ceiling. Large wood beams appear to hold up the roof but in reality, it’s just for effect. The other rooms are lighter colors and use darker furniture to keep the rooms in harmony. Light ivory throw pillows and blankets sit on the dark furniture and paintings of the forest grace the walls. Consider using various shades of green in the decor as well as browns and dark reds. The house is like an extension of the woods. Bright and crisp during the day, but dark and charming at night.
The cabin doesn’t need to cost a lot to furnish. Consider pre-owned decor from websites like Craigslist and eBay or DIY pieces made from reclaimed wood, pallets and even stones and shells found by the water’s edge. For new furniture, Ikea is a great choice for modern and sleek sofas that are perfect for the lake house to darker, heavier club chairs that offer a great spot to nap in the hunting lodge.
How is your cabin decorated? Any tips for our readers?