Cabins We Wouldn't Mind Being Stuck in Right Now

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of my own four walls

Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.

Photo: Courtesy Matthias Bark

In case you aren’t familiar with the history of the internet’s obsession with cabin porn, here’s a quick lesson: it started, as all good things do, on Tumblr. More specifically, it was the brainchild of Zach Klein (CEO of the home-design magazine Dwell, cofounder of the kids crafting website, early cofounder of Vimeo—you get the idea) and his friends when they were twentysomethings looking to get out of New York City. 

“I never intended to move to New York City,” says Klein, who’s now based in San Francisco. “My idea of being successful was being outside all the time.”

In the late 2000s, after following what he calls “a pretty conventional arc” (get a job, meet a girl, settle down), Klein went looking for a place to get away. He eventually scored some land in Sullivan County, a sleepy green patch in the Catskills of New York, where he and his friends could go to spend time in nature. Soon after, they started a Tumblr feed called Cabin Porn, where they would reblog about homes that inspired their own prospective builds.

In 2009, Klein decided to make the private blog public—and it exploded. In 2015, along with writer Steven Leckart and photographer Noah Kalina, he published Cabin Porn, a collection of dwellings that influenced his construction process. Four years later, he and the travel writer Freda Moon released a second edition, Cabin Porn: Insideto answer what Klein says was one of the most common reader questions from the first edition: What does it look like inside?

While researching both books and his previous blog, Klein looked at “tens of thousands” of cabins. While we’re stuck at home, we couldn’t help but create our own list of the dream spots we wish we were hunkered down in right now. 

Photo: A fire lookout tower in Fernwood, Idaho, built in Washington State in 1959 and later hauled to its current location. Converted by Kristie Mae Wolfe.

Photo: Courtesy Melissa Brillhart

Brillhut, built by Melissa and Jake Brillhart, was created in the couple’s backyard in Miami, packed down flat, shipped to the Bahamas, and reassembled on the archipelago’s Eleuthera Island. The open walls on each side are made of fiberglass and insulated foam panels, and a pulley system of ropes and sheaves on the cabin’s outside lift the panels to let nature in and create a makeshift covered deck.

Photo: Courtesy Camila Cossio

Casa Tiny, a cement and wood cabin set amid the jungle near Oaxaca, Mexico, was inspired by the minimalist living outlined by Henry David Thoreau in Walden. Commissioned by artist Claudio Sodi and designed by architect Aranzazu de Ariño, it has now become the pair’s escape from Mexico City (they fell in love during the build process). Add it to your future booking list here (from $170).

Photo: Courtesy Richard Stewart; Alistair Sopp

The Cornish Cabin, an abode on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, England, and its shower (above right). A creation of Swedish designer Hakan Stroz, the home was made using traditional woodworking techniques. Builders Richard and Anna Stewart felled 49 trees to construct the cabin, complete with talismans stuffed in notches on each log to give the home “a good spiritual blessing,” Richard says in the book.

Photo: Courtesy Mike Beavers

Beavers Lodge started as a dilapidated shack in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California—the roof leaked, its original plywood walls sucked up moisture, and the previous owners couldn’t even guess its age. Mike and Charlotte Beaver rehabbed it from scratch, sourcing wood from local housing-restoration projects. They fit plexiglass shelves from an American Apparel outlet into skylights and used an old telephone pole to support the frame. The bright and open window layout was designed to allow the couple to spot local wildlife.

Photo: Courtesy Sven Holt

The McGovern Residence (from $45) sits in Tucannon, Washington, four hours east of Seattle. Originally built in the 1970s during the back-to-the-land movement, the home is being restored by the McGoverns’ grandson, Sven Holt, to host events and overnight stays. The property also features a root cellar and a potting shed.

Photo: Courtesy Brian Vogelgesang

Part of why we love geodesic domes might stem from their novelty (or their Instagram presence): with hexagonal windows and a frame that makes piping and a chimney nearly impossible to install, the construction is relatively impractical and therefore uncommon. However, the popularity of glamping has caused a resurgence in domes over the past few years, and they’ve since made their way back into our collective design conscience. Nestled in remote Northern California near the Pacific Ocean, this dome is part of Oz Farm (from $125). Located on the edge of a river, each can accommodate up to ten people and features a wraparound porch with an outdoor shower.

Photo: Courtesy Jack Boothby

Sky Den was built in northeastern England and featured as part of the British TV show George Clark’s Amazing Spaces, which explores how people make homes in unconventional locales. With a roof that cracks open mechanically to reveal the area’s famous dark skies, the cabin is composed of three distinct shapes: the triangle, at the top, is a loft space, fit with two beds; the square below, the main living quarters, houses a kitchen, foldaway furniture, and a mudroom; and just behind the stairs is a cylinder, meant for sitting and taking in the view. Book a future stay (from $250) here.

Photo: Courtesy Simon Dale

Undercroft, a roundhouse in an off-the-grid eco village in Wales, uses Earthship design—defined by six sustainability principles that include renewable-energy capabilities and natural materials—to heat and run the place. The greenhouse directly outside the window is attached to the home and captures sunlight for more insulation.

Photo: Courtesy Karel Balas

The Viking Seaside Summer House, originally built in the 1950s in Fermanville, France, is a mere 10 by 15 feet; the country’s coastal building laws prevented refurbishers from creating anything larger. To make the most of the space, the cabin now comes with a double bed and a table for eight (made possible with folding chairs for easy storage), and it has two big sliding glass windows to keep the home bright.