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Free! Cabin! Porn!
December 22, 2011 9:20 PM   Subscribe

Free cabin porn! Inspiration for your quiet place somewhere.
posted by middleclasstool (57 comments total) 114 users marked this as a favorite

 
These are all very nice but a cabin just doesn't seem like a cabin to me unless the decor leapt straight out of the 70s, and all the furniture is stuff your parents got rid of ages ago.
posted by selenized at 9:35 PM on December 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


God, some of those are utterly beautiful and brilliant.

I never understood cabins until I started vacationing myself as an adult. The freedom to go from a 2,500sqft house to a ~800sqft vacation spot for a week is totally freeing. You realize most of the space and junk in your regular house is pointless and weighs you down. There are times I've been on vacation where I can honestly say if my day-to-day house burned down with everything in it while I was away, I would be perfectly comfortable rebuilding from scratch and acquiring far less objects into a much smaller space.

Now I really want a tiny beautiful cabin of my own.
posted by mathowie at 9:37 PM on December 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Weird, I was just looking at cabin porn on youtube. Thanks for posting! I can't seem to get the link to work at the moment but hopefully it'll be up and running again soon.
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:42 PM on December 22, 2011


You realize most of the space and junk in your regular house is pointless and weighs you down.

I especially feel this way about the kitchen. Cooking supplies at all the cabins I've stayed at were spartan at best. Whenever I get back from time at the cabin I can't fathom why I have all the crap I have in my kitchen. After a few weeks, though, every pot, pan, and whisk seems like an utter necessity that I couldn't possibly part with.
posted by selenized at 9:42 PM on December 22, 2011


Great setup. This one looks familiar.
posted by stp123 at 9:43 PM on December 22, 2011


Alone in the Wilderness - "Alone in the Wilderness" is the story of Dick Proenneke living in the Alaska wilderness. Dick filmed his adventures so he could show his relatives in the lower 48 states what life was like in Alaska, building his cabin, hunting for food and exploring the area. Bob Swerer has taken the best footage from Dick's films and he has created 3 videos about Dick, "Alone in the Wilderness", "Alaska, Silence and Solitude" and "The Frozen North". You can purchase all of them in DVD or VHS format from the www.DickProenneke.com website.
posted by neuron at 9:44 PM on December 22, 2011 [21 favorites]


Oh my god neuron I saw that on PBS late one night years ago and have been looking for it ever sense. THANK YOU.
posted by pts at 9:47 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Favorited hard. Thanks.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:49 PM on December 22, 2011




These are all very nice but a cabin just doesn't seem like a cabin to me unless the decor leapt straight out of the 70s, and all the furniture is stuff your parents got rid of ages ago.
posted by selenized at 12:35 AM on December 23 [+] [!]


The cabin some friends own that I mercilessly mooch off of in the summer was flash frozen around 1964, so I always refer to it as " James Mason' Summer Home".
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many of those cabins appear to have been designed by people who have absolutely no idea what it's like to live in the country.
posted by unSane at 9:52 PM on December 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


Huh. Just yesterday, I stumbled across House of Fallen Timbers, in which a fellow builds a cabin using dead wood from his property, and idly wondered if I should post it on MeFi. Today there is a post on cabins. Where's that plate of fish?
posted by fings at 9:56 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many of those cabins appear to have been designed by people who have absolutely no idea what it's like to live in the country.

Possibly true, although they all appear to be in the country and work fairly well. That said, the cabin isn't about living in the country so much as it is about not living in the city for a few days (or weeks).
posted by asnider at 9:57 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


That said, the cabin isn't about living in the country so much as it is about not living in the city for a few days (or weeks).

There are a few that are really pretty and modernist, and somehow I can't imagine them staying that way after anyone actually used them as a cabin.
posted by selenized at 10:01 PM on December 22, 2011


Sadly, the only cabin I could ever afford.
posted by hot_monster at 10:01 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


although they all appear to be in the country and work fairly well.

Three words: bugs, vermin, snow
posted by unSane at 10:01 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


True country have the view without the cash.
posted by Mblue at 10:03 PM on December 22, 2011


My parents moved to 40 acres in backwoods Arkansas with my brother and I in tow in 1979 and built a log cabin from scratch -- not a kit, I'm talking cut down white oaks, skin the bark off them, notch them, etc. We lived there for a few years, no electricity, no running water, no telephone. It was 10 years after we left before I ever went camping again. Nowadays, I love the place, but, it's one thing to visit, it's another to live there. Having done both, visiting is better.
posted by smcameron at 10:14 PM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


I never understood cabins until I started vacationing myself as an adult. The freedom to go from a 2,500sqft house to a ~800sqft vacation spot for a week is totally freeing

I know this is true, but as I sit in my ~600 sqft home, it's a little... surreal.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:17 PM on December 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Three words: bugs, vermin, snow

Honestly, except for the A-frame one that doesn't appear to have actual doors or windows, I don't see how these things would be more of an issue in any of the cabins shown than in a more traditional cabin.

There are a few that are really pretty and modernist, and somehow I can't imagine them staying that way after anyone actually used them as a cabin.

I think they're weird design choices for cabins, but I don't think that they are ill-designed for the environment.
posted by asnider at 10:18 PM on December 22, 2011


I often think that I'd like another smaller apartment, maybe in Brooklyn, for the weekends. I can see my self leaving work early on fridays to go away for the weekend, everyone asking "Hamptons? Jersey Shore?" and I just sake my head and say "Nah, weekend apartment in Fort Greene"

A studio or one bedroom just to get away from it all would be great.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:18 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought getting away from it all but staying more or less put involved more drugs.
posted by The Whelk at 10:27 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some of those are really pretty, others are just plain silly.

Personally, I would love to build a cabin (and have a couple of times come very, very close to buying some land in order to have an excuse to start building). But I have exactly the same amount of disinterest in having a second place to maintain. Even a small place brings with it a huge set of hassles, and taking care of one place is enough of a pain, thanks.

So I think I'll enjoy the photos and maybe go rent a place for a weekend some day. Or maybe someday sell the house, rent an apartment, and then build a cabin.
posted by Forktine at 10:31 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a cabin. It stands on a mountainside in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, close enough to civilization that I can clean myself up and drive into Berkeley Springs on a Saturday night for a cheap mineral bath, a good meal, and a movie at the wonderful old Star Theater on the main drag there. No matter how foul my moods, or how deep the gloom of the day-to-day gets, when I hit the last twenty of the 121 miles of my drive out there, the rolling waves of green draw out the poison, and I rise and dip and bank up to, over, around, and through those old, old mountains like a bird on the wing until I'm there.

I've got the perfect postage stamp of property, inherited from my late father, who believed in most of the same things I believe in, perched perfectly between the steep, wooded hillside, the curve of the old rail line, and the floodplain of the Potomac, where I swim in the blue haze just before dawn. All night, the heavy freight trains rumble through, a deep sound you feel like your mother's heartbeat heard in utero, and they call out from far in the distance, a cry like mournful bagpipes, reminding you that life isn't and shouldn't always just be about joy. It is, in its way, my best vision of heaven...except

And there's the rub. I inherited the place, my father's own little dreamtime, and the sign of his overreaching, impractical ambition there. The cabin itself, a slumping, lopsided nightmare, twenty-four by twenty-four rambling, badly envisioned feet of half-assed anti-design by drunken fisherman in the mid-fifties, is a mouse-infested, foul-smelling, leaky, decaying mess. On every trip, I harbor the secret fantasy that I'll find it in a pile at the base of the hillside, having finally surrendered to its failings rather than soldiering on in idiotic unsplendor, so that I can file a joyous insurance claim. I've had no power for four years, since a falling tree flung my meter off into the woods like a slingshot. With no power, there's no water, and every surface is a sticky map of mouse urine. In the rain, it leaks everywhere, never having recovered from having the roof torn halfway off by the remnants of hurricane Isabel.

I stand in the doorway with each arrival and sigh.

Just die, already.

As I've grown comfortable in the most recent of my increasingly unexpected careers, I've geared up for building, and I'm building a tiny cabin that'll be weather-tight, free of rodents, nicely appointed and just a little more than a finely tuned cabinet for sleeping, cooking, and writing. In an 8 by 8 foot space with a loft, I'll have all I need, and strip out the interior of the old place, replace the roof, and turn that into the absurdist spectacle of a 64 square foot house with a 640 square foot shed, which will be just fine. When I can, I'll carry on building, assembling three or four more tiny buildings, and open the place up to everyone I know who needs a little place to get away, because it does me no good to maintain an effete private reserve. A sweet summer night with a decent breeze, a clutch of dear friends gathered around a dancing fire to share stories and bullshit, and those blue mornings to swim in the tranquil wash of the river 'round the bend—these are what keep me daydreaming about a place that's been far more about failure than succor for the fifteen years it's been my sole charge.

One fine day, the old cabin will go, whether by gentle surrender to the hard elements or by my hand, as I dismantle the strong, badly placed bones for materials to complete my little fantasy of a place where everyone I know and love can meet up, far from the city lights, lay back on the hillside, stare out into the impossible deep field of the stars that you can only see out there now, and relax into the geological heartbeat of a mountainside so old that it was once part of the Atlas range in Morocco back when we were on the supercontinent.

Some visitors I used to have up there nailed it.

"There's no time up here, man—just trains."

In sleep, and in the daylight, too, the trains mark out our time, and I always make sure to run down to the tracks when the Capitol Limited comes through, to wave at anyone who might be looking out, wondering who's out there, to share that brief moment of contact. I have the new world already mapped out, the nighttime moment in a microscopic home, when I can wind down for the night, settle into my cube of basic needs, fire up the netbook or roll a piece of paper into my old Hermes 3000, and write until it's time to climb up into the loft for a night of sleep measured out by the passage of steel wheels on endless rails.

One fine day, and maybe soon...one fine day.

My daydreams are almost always the same.

The bones are there. The rest is up to me.
posted by sonascope at 10:34 PM on December 22, 2011 [63 favorites]


I got an A-frame in my shorts just looking at these pics. I have two pieces of land down on Arkansas that would be perfect for something like this.

Can't say I'm a big fan of the modernist/minimalist design evoked in some of them though.

I want a smoky fire, a smelly dog, a meal I cook in one cast iron Dutch Oven, and a typewriter I write on.

I see myself become Arthur Hunnicut in many ways.

Thanks you very much for this post. It's way better than anything currently under my fake Christmas tree.
posted by timsteil at 10:39 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I want an A-frame that's open all the way up except for a loft. Under the loft will be a little kitchen, bath, and master bedroom for me. On the loft will be my 8 million children sleeping like puppies in a pile. Until I am old, when it will be me downstairs, and my 8 million grandchildren sleeping like puppies in a poke while their parents stay down the road at a motel and grandpa will have them hopped up on pancakes with syrup AND whipped cream before their parents can make it to the cabin.

Then they will stay up much too late watching the adults through the railing because they are laughing too loudly for anyone to sleep.

And then they will go home full of sugar and tolerated misbehavior and beg to go back to grandma's cabin where they have to wait in line 15 minutes for the bathroom and there's no holodeck. Because grandma is cool.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:57 PM on December 22, 2011 [14 favorites]


Many of those cabins appear to have been designed by people who have absolutely no idea what it's like to live in the country.

Yeah most of these are not exactly bear proof, nor tweaker proof, which is at least as much of an issue in the countryside around here.
posted by fshgrl at 11:05 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh boy, does this make me feel nostalgic
There is something about the smell, and mildew
of an old cabin and bacon and pancakes on the
wood stove. Ladling rain water out of an old wooden
barrel.
posted by quazichimp at 11:29 PM on December 22, 2011


No cabin-on-cabin action? Not even a splinter? Well, at least it's free.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:50 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Finnish Garden Sleeping Shed on page 4 is the ultimate garden amenity. You just know there's a shower above the bricks making possible long days of gardening and bathing in all the natural Vitamin D in summertime without ever leaving the garden even to sleep, spending every moment in the out of doors because summer is so brief and winter is long. I've been obsessed with tiny houses since I discovered the Solar Decathlon and the introduction of Katrina Cottages but I've never seen such a perfect garden structure. Comes with guarantee that there are no bitey bugs, no creepy crawlies, not even any neighbors for miles--just sun and garden, water and perfect white linen on a greenhouse bed. A few orchids. Sigh.
posted by Anitanola at 11:57 PM on December 22, 2011


You know, much as I have a soft spot for things like this and a general love of feeling immersed in nature, I could never, ever, ever deal with trying to spend any length of time in something like this. If I want to sit in a forest I'll go and sit in a forest, thank you very much - don't make me do it in my lounge room, that's for cocooning.

Damned if I know why I have such a viscerally negative reaction to such structures, but there you go. I'm moderately sure I'm not alone...
posted by deadwax at 3:14 AM on December 23, 2011


Even though it's not in the same spirit as most of the other wonderful little rustic wonders, I like William O'Brien's Allandale cabin so much, it's making me emotional.

I'm always torn between wanting to wear flannelette shirts, carry an axe, brave spider webs, drink out of jam jars, shoot cans etc, and wanting to sit in an immaculate house like this one, wearing something Japanese whilst looking out of these frameless windows at that immaculate scene.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:20 AM on December 23, 2011


Hah, well there you go. The diversity of human nature, or something.
posted by deadwax at 3:50 AM on December 23, 2011


No cabin-on-cabin action? Not even a splinter?

Were you pining for something knottier?
posted by orme at 4:16 AM on December 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


I've been following Cabin Porn for a few months now, stoking my dreams of finding a piece of land somewhere to build a little cabin on.

When I can, I'll carry on building, assembling three or four more tiny buildings, and open the place up to everyone I know who needs a little place to get away, because it does me no good to maintain an effete private reserve.

Yeah, that sounds right on. in particular, I'd love to build a sort of communal-kitchen cabin, with an outdoor wood-fired oven.

One thing I struggle with is figuring out how to find a good piece of property to build on. It's hard to picture how big two or ten or fifty acres actually is, and hard to know how much space you'd need to "get away from it all". Obviously that's going to depend a lot on the particulars of each piece of land, but do any of the cabin owners have any input? (Maybe I should make this an AskMefi post!)
posted by sriracha at 5:14 AM on December 23, 2011


I can't seem to get the link to work at the moment

Yeah, they're using some very limited hosting plan, and the website goes dark for much of the day, every day (as far as I can tell).

I follow them on Google Reader, which essentially mirrors the content.
posted by sriracha at 5:17 AM on December 23, 2011



Yeah most of these are not exactly bear proof, nor tweaker proof, which is at least as much of an issue in the countryside around here.


In this area, tweakers have become a primary design and construction consideration for cabins, much worse than bears. (The hunting season keeps bears on their toes around human habitation; there's no such limitation on tweakers.) So beautiful as I find those modernist structures with large windows, the only functional cabin I could build here would look much more bunkerish, with heavy duty locking shutters and a serious security door.
posted by Forktine at 6:02 AM on December 23, 2011


I would be perfectly comfortable rebuilding from scratch and acquiring far less objects into a much smaller space.

We're slowly in the process of preparing our house to sell, and one of my side projects has been trying to be entirely without mercy and strip my stuff down to the necessities. Ideally I'd like to own about 20 personal items, not including clothes and toiletries.

I've gotten very unsentimental about my things over the years, but it's still hard. There are still way more things than I need or even look at that often. So yeah, I also dream of a fire in which my family and computers escape unscathed.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:13 AM on December 23, 2011


tweakers have become a primary design and construction consideration for cabins

Whenever I see those vaultlike, awful places, all closed up like safes, I have to laugh. Obvious security is like an advertisement for valuable contents. I've had my plumbing and wiring yanked out and stolen, for one, and my queer bowhunter neighbor said, "well, that's probably my cousin Les."

"Can I get my stuff back?"

"Only if you like meth, I think."

My father used to have a nice strategy for security, which was to just leave a window obviously unlatched (so people wouldn't smash the doorframes) and to seed the place with thrift store shit that druggies think are valuable. A long chain of Soundesign combination turntable/cassette/tuner systems have come and gone there, for instance. You also get smart about what you leave. Powertools will go. You don't dare leave a canoe in place, or anything with an engine. I've got my "bug-out" bags packed, containing the things that come and go when I, or my visiting friends, make the trip. The chainsaw goes up, comes back.

Big heavy shutters are a dare, and they're a dare for people with acetylene torches, chainsaws, and weeks when no one's around. Animals are easy—put every single thing in a tin, a 5 gallon paint bucket with a tight lid, or a mason jar. Bears have clawed the doorframes of the cabin, but they don't push it. People, by which I mean bored, clapped-out, otherwise unoccupied men of a certain age, will get what they want. The secret is to destroy that desire as much as you can.

In the new place, because I'm building it to purpose, there will be no furniture. Everything built in, or folding away. Lots of windows for light, bit windows that are small enough that you can't climb in or out of them. Rim of clerestories all the way around. Tiny kitchenette built in, with a top that folds in overhead to create both an additional workspace and hide the one bought item—an RV propane cooktop. Rather than create this enticing box of delights, I am to make something with wide-open views of nothing worth stealing.

You will be away from your place 95% of the time. The very best method is to meet the neighbors, make friends with the year-rounders, and subtly recruit eyes and attention.

Remembering that your stuff is just stuff, too, is key. If you value it enough that you'd be sad if it went, don't leave it there.
posted by sonascope at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's hard to picture how big two or ten or fifty acres actually is

An acre is roughly equivalent to a square 200 feet on a side, or a rectangle a bit smaller than a football field.

Of course, how much is enough to 'get away' depends very much on how your property's shaped and what's on neighboring properties. You could be totally isolated on a quarter acre if you're next to some large, undeveloped properties like parks, or you could have a couple of acres in a big long strip going back from the road and have neighbors within spitting distance on both sides.
posted by echo target at 7:34 AM on December 23, 2011


Mice not included.

One of the things about living somewhere somewhat remote is that there are a ton of these places [the small rustic ones, not the big architected ones, or even the small architected ones] and when you see them up close and not as a vacationer, they have their upsides and downsides. The one near me that a friend owns has mice, a mildew problem, a neighbor with 15 barking dogs and even though he shuts the water off half the year, a bit of a problem with pipes and the like. And if you don't put the lid on the toilet down, you get mice there too.

When I bought my first house in '97 it was a place that could probably charitably be described as a cabin [800 square feet, a sleeping loft, attached to a rickety barn] and I found that for me personally the charm was outweighed by the real-life effort required to keep it defended against the elements and the neighbors and the occasional hippie who would find the place and move in just like Goldilocks. Anyone wants to get their cabin on, it's for sale. I sort of love my apartment in what passes for "town" around here.
posted by jessamyn at 7:36 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


The one near me that a friend owns has mice, a mildew problem, a neighbor with 15 barking dogs and even though he shuts the water off half the year, a bit of a problem with pipes and the like. And if you don't put the lid on the toilet down, you get mice there too.

One of the things that always sort of gets me is the reaction from new friends and acquaintances when I mention the place.

"You have a cabin!?"

There's this giddy note of faraway awe and that comes with that, because "cabin" has this sort of dreamy awayness at work, and while I'll happily give my keys to anyone I trust, I always want to be absolutely emphatic that my place is not a lovely, romantic getaway—it's a moldy, urine-scented, wasp & spider filled grimy rats' nest with no power or water. The last night I spent there, I was delighted to lie in the dark, amazed by the lack of scampering sounds in a place that is all about scampering sounds and the occasional mouse-under-the-covers moment. I'd ridden up in the dark, parked my motorcycle on the back deck, and gone in under flashlight conditions, and when I woke up, I found four freshly shed snakeskins dangling over various objects, which explained that I'd traded a mouse problem for a cabin squirming with snakes.

Well, they're quieter, at least, though they shit everywhere.

At my drawing board, where the plan for my cube is evolving, I'm building to eliminate those things. Joists to be boxed at the bottom as well as the top, chicken wire under the siding to block out points of entry, and I've got a perfect example at my disposal at where insects, animals, and water get it. The roof this time will be unpenetrated, at least until I get afford a Sardine, and even then, the chimney's going up the outside of the place. Doors, windows, trims, everything sealed against ingress, vented with fine screens.

I fought against the inevitable for fifteen years with my existing place, lulled into that state of denial because my father always had been, but you can't fix something that was never designed right. You've got to build in the fixes from the start. I'll stabilize the old place just enough to keep it dry and upright, largely because if I ever spring for power again, the power company won't hook to a place so tiny it looks like a shed, but it's forever uninhabitable on its own, a goal that's always just past one's fingertips. As it turns out, the supplies I accumulated for the task of its refurbishment will nicely cover the construction of a tiny new cabin and a good-sized bathhouse/multrum toilet on the side of the hill, so the work wasn't all for naught.
posted by sonascope at 7:56 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jesus, where do you people have your cabins that you're constantly worrying about meth addicts and theft? I mean, I know theft is a bit more likely in cottage communities, since people aren't there all of the time, but some of the comments upthread make it sound like a bloody epidemic.
posted by asnider at 9:31 AM on December 23, 2011


at least until I get afford a Sardine

Did I just fall in love? I think I just fell in love.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:38 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus, where do you people have your cabins that you're constantly worrying about meth addicts and theft?

Dirt Road, Rural Area, USA. If you have a place off the roads you're fine, tweakers don't hike in.

Bears are a problem too, they would just walk right through most of those lovely big windows and bears can mess a place up like you wouldn't believe.
posted by fshgrl at 9:47 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't dare start on the porn, or nothing will get done today.

I live in a converted cabin at a small lake in Maine, @ 40 minute drive to work. It was a summer cottage, converted badly, and I'm slowly repairing and renovating the worst (fake brick panelling - gone, dilapidated kitchen - replaced, ratty bathroom - you're next, stupid 2nd floor with no windows facing the lake??? - saving up for you). The lots are small because it was developed for working class people @ WWII. I hope to buy the lot next to me for privacy. The house is @ 1,000 sq ft., plenty roomy for me, and while I'm not right on the water, I have access, and a great view.

I have woods behind me, and I'm far enough from town that the stars are amazing, and the moon over the lake is stunning. It's not isolated; I have plenty of neighbors, and they're pretty nice. I don't have to lock the car, and only lock the house out of habit. People help you get your car out when it's stuck in the snow. In summer, there are lots of boats on the lake, people fishing, a water skier once in a while, a few jet skis. Too quiet in the winter? hah, not with the snowmobiles, and the ice-fishing shacks out on the lake (not frozen yet this year - will be weird to have an open lake at Christmas, if we do).

I have a big deck, so in the summer, I can read, and get too hot, then go swim. I don't need AC. On the few really hot days, a canoe ride and an 'accidental' capsize are cool enough. I have more boats than residents, and that's counting the little dog, who's learning to swim. For winter, I have a furnace, and the wood stove makes the living room really cozy, so the oil bill gets a break. I could go snow-shoeing, or sit here by the fire and keep reading. I just got a used hybrid, so I feel less guilty about my commute.

That sardine stove is awesome. I wonder if I can put one in my 2nd floor to supplement the Waterford Fionn in the living room. hmmmmm.

It's 20 minutes to the bank, a grocery store, gas station, etc. The mall - 40 minutes away. Most important, I have cablemodem Internet(deal-breaker). Maine's got more than a few places like this, close enough for work and friends, far enough for nature. I earn less than I would have if I'd lived someplace with a more robust economy, esp 30 years ago, when I moved here. But there's a lot of social capital.

I feel like Jimmy Stewart at the end of It's a Wonderful Life. I like my funny little house with uneven floors. Yhanks for posting, middleclasstool.
posted by theora55 at 10:13 AM on December 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


Modernist cabins are for douchebags.
posted by Oddly at 10:16 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the things that's been a boon and a curse is the explosion of affordable ATVs. People don't need to hike in anymore, and an ATV can pretty much go anywhere. With a trailer hitched up, you can unload a cabin at twilight in record time. The plus side is that the legions of disaffected teenagers who would otherwise spend their time launching metal trash cans with sticks of dynamite now jump on the CSX access road that parallels the train tracks and head into Hancock to get drunk and troll for chicks.

The economy of the area is a big thing. When the cabin came into our family's hands twenty-five years ago, Hancock, Berkeley Springs, and Great Cacapon (the three nearest towns), were all pretty depressed. Back then, we got broken into about once or twice a year, with the thieves making off with increasingly worthless decoy items (an ugly lamp was once stolen, then actually returned months later). These days, even in the rough economy, Berkeley Springs is a center for retiring artsy new agey baby boomers, who keep the downtown lively and support a store where I can get decent Stilton. Hancock has set itself up as a major trailhead for the C&O Canal towpath, so it's swarming with upper middle bicycley sorts. Generally, there are places for locals to work, so the boredom that invites chaos is much attenuated.

I occasionally look at places down South, along the holy road where my brain unwinds with the passing miles, but the economies down there are just so busted and hopeless, and even the thought of being able to pick up ten acres for $5k just...well, a place needs to be a little closer, and a little less desolate, I guess. It's heartbreaking, because I've looked at old churches, shut-down factories, and countless old-school motels where I can see myself holed up, writing and reading and making things, but for all but the most solitude-adapted, those places would end up making a person crazy. Or not—maybe it's just me.

If the process were easier, though, we'd all have somewhere to go.
posted by sonascope at 10:29 AM on December 23, 2011


Gosh, I guess that would make me a porn star? How very... unlikely that sounds.

I live in a cabin that's about 425sf, depending on how you measure "square feet." It has a sleeping loft, an open downstairs area, and a bathroom sort of stuck on the side as an afterthought. Originally this was the temporary abode that the primary landowner built 30 years ago while waiting for their real house to be built.

It's on a five acre lot in north Puget Sound. Five acres is enough to feel like you have some space to yourself, if not enough to own a lot of livestock. I can just barely spot the houses on the two adjacent parcels through the trees - see the lights in their windows after dark - which seems like the perfect balance between isolation and community.

Moving here was kind of a desperation move, I got jacked on a lease situation on my apartment in Seattle and was scrambling to find a new place in a very tough rental market. It took a few years to get the hang of it, having been a City Girl my whole life, but now I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Mice, tweakers, weather-related power outages, sure. In the city you have rapists, car break-ins, and rats. Anywhere you live, there's going to be problems. But at least I have clean air now, and stars at night, and I can keep chickens, and I have identified six species of owls from my front porch.

If I were going to start from scratch, I would look for a 5 to 10 acre parcel that perks (meaning, it can be drilled for well water) and get a place from MiniCabins.com. I know several people who have had their kit cabins, and they really are pretty great - especially for the price. I've been to their physical location and seen their variety of cabins, which is pretty impressive.
posted by ErikaB at 10:55 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Is anyone else having problems getting the site to load? I've been trying for hours but I just keep getting a timeout error).
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:20 PM on December 23, 2011


Oh, this is bittersweet. I've been lucky enough to spend the last eight or ten summers living in and working from what my family calls "the shack" on my folks' land on Cape Cod. But now I'm even luckier to be married to a wonderful woman – and she's got a Real Job in NYC so I may have spent my last summer in the woods near the beach for a while...
posted by nicwolff at 12:49 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


nicwolff, your "shack" definitely belongs in Cabin Porn.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:54 PM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's ours. Ten minutes by car from Santa Cruz then ten minutes hike up a forest trail. Not a house to be seen, just a sixty mile vista over Monterey Bay.
posted by anadem at 2:58 PM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


mathowie: "The freedom to go from a 2,500sqft house to a ~800sqft vacation spot for a week is totally freeing."

That's funny, because I read this, daydreaming about the freedom of going from my ~500sqft city apartment to an 800sqft cabin on the weekends.
posted by schmod at 11:28 PM on December 23, 2011


If you ever have a couple of days to kills in the remote Scottish Highlands, perhaps visit a remote bothy, only accessible by foot or boat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bothy

Typically these are restored ruined cottages, without any kind of bedding or amenities, but maintained for use for free by wandering souls.
posted by choppyes at 4:20 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


nicwolff, your "shack" definitely belongs in Cabin Porn.

Thanks! The interior is sweet too. Maybe I'll submit it, although it doesn't have the architectural magnificence of the cabin-porn stars...
posted by nicwolff at 7:25 AM on December 24, 2011


Modernist eco concept cabins, so that San Franciscan venture capitalists can buy them to talk about how they love nature while they wait in line at Blue Bottle Coffee.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:47 AM on December 24, 2011


Y'know, nicwolff, if *you* aren't using "the shack" out on The Cape...
posted by maryr at 1:30 PM on January 4, 2012


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