Cabin Decor: Modernizing the Classics

Written by Posted On Monday, 30 December 2013 12:36

By David Bryce

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How should a cabin be decorated?  Should its space be defined with the typical “log cabin” look?  A theme of strong woody designs, crafted out of pine or cedar, or should it be more subdued, inspired by nature but not presented in such an overwhelming way?  These can be challenging questions to answer when faced with decorating a cabin (or any space, really).  Of course, an alternative question you could ask yourself, while considering a look for your cabin is: clichéd or inspired?


Clichéd might sound harsh, but it’s true.  For some curious reason, when people decorate cabins, there is an insistence on a very established look.  It’s not necessarily the cabin-owner’s fault.  There are far too many resources, whether is one of the countless style magazines or a blog (though, not all blogs…), that seem to insist that cabin be decorated in a clichéd, overused look.  These looks include the classic timber-style, the “rustic” look, or the inspired-by nature look, which may include images taken from nature such as the local fauna and flora.  Think deer, eagles, pine trees, and so on.


Is there anything wrong with these styles and themes?  Absolutely not.   Some spaces can look perfect using one of these themes or even a mix and match.  The cabin lends itself to the looks especially if it’s a cabin built with a more classic timber look.  However, consider stepping out of the ordinary and a comfort zone perpetuated by style magazines and do something unexpected and imaginative…


Timber – Since timber is one of the most classic cabin looks and one of the more au naturel types of furnishings, it can prove a challenge to modernize.  It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept the challenge.  Try different types of woods outside of the norm.  Or different shapes.  Don’t be afraid to play with your wood. 


Rustic – Rustic style is much more difficult to pin down in terms of what it actually is.  For some it might be an antique look, for others, it could be the timber look.  For me, its vintage inspired.  A look of old style cabin living, pre-World War II.  Why World War II?  Consider recycling or repurposing antique metal furnishings.  It might take a bit of work, but you’ll have a space exuding old world charm.


Nature – Nature patterns and décor tend to be the most “blah” when it comes to cabin interior design.  It’s the clichéd of the clichéd.  Some people insisted upon it as it ties together the indoors with the out, but it’s a style and theme that can become tacky in an instant.  Prints, patterns, sculptures, and molds should be used sparingly, to accentuate, not dominate.  Creating a balance and to use restraint is the way to bring this style into the modern cabin environment.


Stone – Stone as furniture tends to be underappreciated.  One of the downsides, of course, is it can be heavy, but a stone slab coffee table can’t be beat (except by paper).  Now, would you consider a stone chair?  Probably not, but I’d certainly be willing to give it a go.  Realistically, stone works better as an accent, used to a minimal extent, primarily due to its weight.  However, if you can get away with it, give it a try.  Stone accents wood cabins beautifully and if you can get it locally, the better.  Tie your cabin to the world around it.



Or, skip the conventional altogether.  Don’t use any of these as a starting point and start where you want.  If you want your cabin to feature a modern look, go for it.  Like glass and metal?  Use it.  Make your cabin space yours.  Don’t adhere to the norms of cabin interior design--everything you learned in Cabin Design 101, forget it!  





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