7 Rustic Retreats with Surprisingly Sleek Interiors

7 Rustic Retreats with Surprisingly Sleek Interiors

By Marissa Hermanson
Tucked away in nature, these rugged cabins and barns conceal remarkably refined living spaces.

It takes creative spirit and a keen eye to see the potential in old spaces—and we love it when dilapidated and dated structures are given fresh life with new materials, clean lines, and more functional layouts. These rustic retreats embrace their heyday on the outside, while their brand-new interiors have been redesigned for modern living. From their exteriors, you wouldn’t be able to guess the surprises that await inside!

A Danish Cottage on the North Sea

Danish architects John Lassen and Joanna Tench renovated the interior of this quaint 1960s thatched-roof cottage in North Jutland, giving it a clean, modern face-lift.

White plaster walls and a curved ceiling play up natural lighting, while minimalist decor and furnishings (many of which they designed themselves) make the small space feel larger.

Interior designer Eva Holbrook and artist Jamie Williams brought this cozy mountain retreat back to life by embracing an "uncluttered simplicity" design concept. They brought the outdoors in by incorporating wood elements, big windows, and reclaimed materials.

Small details—from organic products to sustainability sourced materials—helped the couple to bring their zen MO home. 

Stuck in the 1970s, this Big Bear A-frame was given a new look for $40,000. The owner embraced the cabin’s midcentury vibe while updating all of the tired decorative elements, like wall-to-wall carpeting and a drab color scheme.

With a coat of paint and new appliances and furnishings, the 880-square-foot space maintains its cozy cabin feel, while also feeling fresh and new. 

Gresford Architects restored and renovated this historic family homestead in South East England. The old barn had been transformed into a residence, but the structure lacked its original barn-like character, which the owners wanted to embrace. 

The design team restored the existing wood beams, giving nod to the home’s former rustic life, while introducing big windows, white walls, and clean lines.  

The owners of an old wooden lake house in La Malbaie, Quebec, hired architect Anik Péloquin to add a contemporary addition to the side of their cottage, helping the old structure blend into its natural surroundings while providing the owners with more room for visitors. 

Inside, a smart mix of rustic and contemporary elements make for a dynamic space: white-stained pine walls, expansive windows, black accents, and minimalist furniture. 

A couple renovated an old farmhouse in Quebec to serve as their vacation home—and didn’t stop there. They looked to the old dilapidated barn on the property, and transformed it into a sprawling 4,500-square-foot guest house for their adult children. 

Inside, rustic elements (like wood beams and whitewashed wood) nod to the structure’s former life, while walls of glass, black metal accents, and sleek furnishings give it a fresh, new look. After the renovation, the couple loved the guesthouse so much they decided to make it their full-time dwelling.

San Francisco–based Studio PLOW brought its sleek aesthetic from the big city to the redwood forest, transforming this weekend retreat from dark and dated to bright and modern. 

Brit and Daniel Epperson accented the cabin’s bright white interior with dynamic black focal points and vignettes, like a towering tile fireplace facade and a cool Valchromat-and-steel kitchen. 


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