Dwell’s Top 10 Cabins of 2019
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Dwell’s Top 10 Cabins of 2019

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By Lauren Conklin
From windswept bluffs to lakeside woods, these ambitious outposts embrace the wild without sacrificing creature comforts.

Whether in the Brazilian rainforest or on a Norwegian island, a cabin retreat offers the chance to disconnect from the stresses of modern life and fall off the grid, communing with nature and ourselves. We look back on some of our readers’ favorite hideaways this year, from the wild and remote to the groovy and folkloric.

10. These Nordic A-Frame Cabins Offer Thrilling Treetop Views

Inspired by Nordic folklore and fire towers that dot the surrounding forests, PAN Treetop Cabins by architect Espen Surnevik make for a fairy-tale holiday.

Owned by Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel, the cabins perch 26 feet above the ground on steel poles sunk 20 feet deep into the bedrock below, providing stability when strong winds blow.

In search of a Bay Area retreat, Jeff Waldman and Molly Fiffer purchased a piece of land on which to experiment and gain new skills, one task at a time.

To date, the pair and their pals have built a compound complete with sheds, tree decks, a pavilion, a wood-fired hot tub, an outhouse, an outdoor shower, and, now, a redwood cabin where an ever widening network of friends gather for skill-sharing workshops and events.

Vancouver-based design firm Trim Studio recently completed this tiny home on an island off the coast of Vancouver for a young, newly engaged couple named Kris and Ali, who were excited to create a vacation home they could share with family and friends.  

To take advantage of the astounding views that extend beyond the Strait of Georgia to the cityscape of downtown Vancouver, Trim Studio oriented the home so that it faces northeast.

When an urban couple decided to build an affordable tiny house outside the city as a retreat from their busy lives, they found a site in the Stockholm archipelago and called on architect David Lookofsky of Lookofsky Architecture.

Lookofsky outfitted the bedroom with built-in pine plywood bunkbeds, walls, and a ceiling. The bathroom and a closet are also wrapped in plywood.

"I remembered the lake and the skiing, and now that I have my son, James, I wanted to create a cozy home away from home that we could call our own. I was like a woman possessed. An A-Frame cabin in Big Bear must be mine!" Luckily, her husband was on board to renovate a cabin into a vacation home/rental.

The mountain abode is nestled on a quiet street a mere 10 minutes from the slopes, and it shares its lot with a gathering of large trees. The house also comfortably accommodates up to 10 people, so it's perfect for hosting friends and their families.

Shop the Look
The Old Art Studio Midcentury Geometric Credenza
The most versatile weapon in the deny arsenal, add this statement-making to just about any room and pack a lot of punch. Television stand, armoire, bar cart and office cabinet the uses of a multi-functional piece of furniture are endless.
Herman Miller Girard Throw
Designed by Alexander Girard. Alexander Girard designed this richly hued throw blanket as part of an astounding 17,543-item brand identity system for Braniff International Airways in 1965. The Girard Throw is recreated today by Pendleton—whose blankets Girard avidly collected.
Malm Fireplace
Located in Sonoma County, California, Malm started as a sheet metal manufacturer in the 1950s. Some of the original employees dabbled in making fireplaces on the weekends, and turned their weekend hobby into a full-fledged business.

The top priorities for Chalet M—a small, plywood cabin in the suburban area of São Lourenço da Serra in São Paulo, Brazil—were to ensure the lightest possible footprint on its forest site, and to maximize the experience of being one with nature for its owners.

Located in a forested, countryside area near a lake and vegetable garden, the cabin was designed by São Paulo architect Silvia Acar as a simple space for sleeping, cooking, and reconnecting with nature.

Located on the Imingfjell mountainside in Norway, this minimalist, 785-square-foot cabin features a "hood" in response to the climate and the region’s strict building regulations.

The commission was for a robust and efficient little cabin oriented towards the lake.

In Texas, where everything is bigger, Ryan McLaughlin is placing his bets on something small. Specifically, a simple 160-square-foot cabin that he hopes city-dwellers will book to get away, find some focus, and reconnect with nature. The result is a laidback, pitched-roof cabin in which every inch of space is thoughtfully allotted so that guests can spend the maximum amount of time outdoors. 

In addition to having a queen bed upstairs, Ryan built a sofa that converts to a twin, based on a design by architect Sean O’Neill. The transformable unit cost $500 in upholstery, $35 in wood, and $4 in hinges.

When Frode Danielsen invited his then-girlfriend Tone Beathe Øvrevoll on a holiday to Hallvardøy Island in northern Norway, little did he know that she would fall so deeply in love with the area that they would spend the next two years putting down roots on the remote island.

With the support of Danielsen’s family (who lived nearby) and the design expertise of award-winning architect Snorre Stinessen, the couple dove headfirst into creating the retreat of their dreams.

"It’s actually a beautiful love story," says Stinessen. "These two people met at a grown-up age, each having their own children, and live on opposite sides of the country—Frode lives in Tromsø, Tone in Elverum—but this project became their place to meet and spend as much time together as possible." The couple recently married, and they spent their honeymoon at the Efjord Cabin.

This matte black cabin with abundant personal touches is a welcoming, low-maintenance family retreat.

The active family had just returned from a three-year stint in Amsterdam and wanted a low-maintenance weekend retreat that would "give us energy and not take it away," explains Sara, who is the president of vintage-inspired home decor company Schoolhouse.

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