How to Design Your Dream Cabin

Originally published on Redfin

Designing a cabin from scratch can be an exciting, but stressful process. And without a professional architect at your side or years of experience yourself, there are so many crucial considerations that can easily be missed. Whether you’re building a vacation home for your family or a rental property to generate cash flow for years to come, we’ve selected notable experts in the field to provide you with tips and tricks to achieve a timeless cabin design, both inside and out. So kick back and let these architectural veterans from Burlington to Sacramento guide your design process.

Focus on what matters to you

Cabins are generally on the smaller side – which means that we would encourage anyone thinking of building or designing a cabin to hone in on one or two strong design ideas. Focus on what matters to you: if it’s a connection to the outdoors, consider how interior and exterior spaces can flow together and how those spaces function differently throughout the changing seasons. If it’s about creating enough space for a family retreat, we might suggest an open plan living area where cooking, dining, and chatting near the fire can all happen simultaneously. As architects we use this same process, collaborating with each of our clients to find out what elements are most important and creating a home that is unique to them. – Studio MM

When designing in remote and tranquil settings, we at Vancouver Builders Ltd,  pay particular attention to the needs of the client for current uses, as well, to plan for the needs that will be created by future generations of the client’s family. In addition, we like to incorporate the personality of the client into the design of the cabin by learning about their passions, this helps to bring about a more lively second home as these homes are more about form over function. These are entirely exciting homes to design and build for all involved. – Vancouver Builders

Location, location, location

Location is the first and foremost priority when designing your cabin. The second would be window sizes/ window placement. Decide what part of nature you want to connect with. Are there beautiful trees or a stream you would enjoy looking at? – Lavish builders

Familiarize yourself with the site

Think about how you see yourself living in your cabin. Is it a retreat where you go and no one can reach you or is it a place for family and friends to gather?  Either way, make your cabin as different in design from your regular home as possible.  That way, being at the cabin will emphasize that you really are “away from it all”. Spend some time getting to know the best and worst parts of your site.  Note the amazing views and challenging topography and orient your cabin to respect and take advantage of them. – Marilyn Ypes Architect

Depending on where you choose to build your cabin can vastly change what amenities you might want to incorporate. Maximizing views is definitely a must and incorporating a double-height great room with a substantial wall of windows is a great way to achieve this. If you’re in a colder climate in the mountains you might want to add a secondary entrance to a ski room for easy access to the slopes and if you’re in a warmer climate on a lake then extending the outdoor space with decks and patios is a great option. The biggest appeal of a cabin for us is the rustic aesthetic of the exterior architecture & interior design. Post and beam construction will not only provide the rustic architecture with the use of logs but is also thermally efficient and cost-effective. – Pricey Pads

Make it original

A dream cabin is a magical place to escape the daily grind. We love customizable touches that are all about YOU – maybe it’s a smart mirror with today’s ski conditions or a world map that marks all the fabulous places you’ve been. Our Tahoe folks prefer to show off their love of the lake by using its shape throughout the cabin’s design elements, like this gorgeous powder mirror. – Luxury Reno Homes

Photo courtesy of Lakecrest Homes

Keep it cozy

Radiant floor heat is the one heating method you’ll truly love as you bask in silent, invisible warmth radiating from every square inch of the floor in your dream cabin. Each room will be the “just right” temperature no matter how nasty the weather may be outside. And speaking of dreams, the radiant will give you the best night’s sleep . . . ever. Once you’ve experienced the simple pleasure of radiant floor heating, all other heating methods become unacceptable. – Warmboard

Don’t underestimate the value of storage space

Especially if you are planning to share your home, either with friends and family or through a short-term rental agency, be sure to plan for more locked storage than you might initially think.  After years of renting out our mountain dream home, we have come to store more than we ever imagined in our owners’ closets.  We recommend a locked storage closet for each major room in your home.  In the kitchen, perhaps you’ll want to lock up that $5,000 espresso machine, your favorite bar tools, liquor and wine, and even your favorite non-perishable pantry items and spices.  In the bedroom, yes you’ll want room to store your seasonal clothes and personal items, but think also of those luxuries that make your home special that you may not want to share with every rental guest when you leave: that one-of-a-kind blanket and your favorite pillows and sheets.  In living areas, design enough locked storage to keep musical instruments, seasonal decor, family heirlooms as well as the family game collection, card decks and puzzles so that all the pieces are accounted for when your family comes together for game nights. – Windcliff Vacation Rentals

Take advantage of your surroundings

An unconventional space that relaxes, yet stirs. Quite a significant storage space, hammocks, space to lie down under the stars, wooden deck with a jetty area (if lakeside), and enough landscape areas in fusion and merged with the surrounding common space. – Udaipur Times

Plan ahead

One of the great things about retirement is that you can spend time enjoying some of your favorite places.  Acquiring a mountain cabin, for example, can be a great second home and a wonderful place for special family gatherings, holidays, events and adventures with the grandkids.  It can also be an excellent cash flow generator and legacy to eventually hand down to the family. With Airbnb, VRBO and other listing options it’s easy for you to book the days you aren’t using your cabin to make money – lots of money! – Old Dawg’s REI Network

When planning to build your “dream cabin,” there are a few things we recommend. First and foremost, keep your exit strategy in mind…What will you do with the cabin when your life changes and you don’t use your vacation home enough to justify holding onto it, or what if you have to sell for financial reasons? In other words, make sure to build something that is desirable for most buyers and isn’t just YOUR dream cabin. – Overall & Hamilton Group

Originally published on Redfin

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