This $12K Flat-Pack Cabin Makes the Perfect Weekend Retreat or Backyard Office

This $12K Flat-Pack Cabin Makes the Perfect Weekend Retreat or Backyard Office

By Mandi Keighran
Hungarian design studio Hello Wood unveils Kabinka, an affordable, compact cabin that can fit a kitchenette, bed, desk, and couch.

Four years ago, Hungarian design studio and educational platform Hello Wood began building prototypes of a tiny cabin that they dubbed Kabinka. Over the years, these prototypes were put to the test by architecture and design students taking part in the Hello Wood summer school. The studio then developed a flat-pack version of the cabin, and it’s now available for purchase as an affordable, self-build option for a weekend retreat, backyard guest room, or private office.

It takes one to three days to assemble Kabinka—which can be done by the client or the Hello Wood team. After installing the ground screws, the wooden frame is put in place. Once the frame is standing, the sandwich panels are positioned. After the shell of the cabin is ready, the interior is finished. The Hello Wood team is working on ways to make the design even more DIY-friendly. 

"We’ve received interest from people looking for an extra room in their backyard, a tiny home for vacations, and even people investing in resorts," says project architect Péter Oravecz. "We can make changes to the design based on each customer’s needs—we can put the cabin on wheels, change the location of the doors and windows, create different sizes, and use different materials."

"Creating a quality space was the focus during the design process," says the Hello Wood team. "Spatial quality isn’t necessarily characterized by big size, but rather deliberate complexity. Each and every millimeter counts—but we believe it’s a joy to spend time in a minimalist home." 

The timber cabin is built from one-meter-long modules and is available in four different sizes—from S (129 square feet) to XL (215 square feet)—which are constructed from five to eight modules. Additional modules, such as a terrace or roof shading, are also available as add-ons.

The timber used for Kabinka varies depending on what is locally available in the region the cabin is being built—currently, it is sourced locally in Hungary. "We used wood, as it is a sustainable material that we like to work with," says project architect Péter Oravecz.  

"The design of Kabinka draws on rural architectural heritage," says Oravecz. "Because of the shape of the facade, traditional windows wouldn’t have worked—so we used a round window. Basically, the whole structure looks like a bird feeder."

The main room connects to the surroundings through a large window and a glazed door. This room is large enough to fit a sofa, a workstation, or a meeting table.

While each of the four cabins has essentially the same floor plan, the function of the spaces and finishes can be changed depending on a client’s preferences—and all sizes can comfortably fit a tea kitchen, bathroom, couch, and stove.

"The size of the space is limited, but thanks to the modular system there are many ways to personalize the interior," says project architect Péter Oravecz.

"The cabin that we have built for the photographs uses gray sandwich panels as insulation and for the outer shell, which give it an industrial feeling," says Oravecz. "This is combined with timber frames and a facade made from CLT panels. The appearance is softened by the use of timber in the interior."

The thickness of the sandwich panels depends on the local climate—the cabin can be customized for almost all weather conditions. Although it was challenging to elevate sandwich panels to a desirable material, they were chosen to make the cabin easy to flat pack.

The cabin is entered through a glass door, which leads directly to the main room on the ground floor. This space can be used as a living room, dining room, or office as needed. To the right is a small, enclosed space, which can be set up as either a bathroom or an additional room. A mezzanine, accessed via a ladder, forms a loft bedroom or break-out area.

The loft bedroom features a small, operable window—which echoes the round shape of the larger window on the front facade. The cozy space sits inside the cabin’s roof structure.

The bathroom is located in a small room adjacent to the main space. If a bathroom isn’t needed, this room can be used for a different purpose.

The interior space is lit by a central pendant light, and the glass door and two windows—one large, round window in the living space, and a smaller, operable window in the mezzanine—allow for plenty of natural light. The interior can be heated and cooled, making it suitable for use all year round.

The large, round window and the glass door help to create a connection between the interior and exterior spaces.

Kabinka starts at €10,000 ($12,000) for a basic model, without shipping or additional furniture. The prefabricated elements arrive flat packed, and they can be assembled by builders with a bit of experience. "This is made possible by the cabin’s smart design," says Oravecz. "Although assemble-it-yourself solutions are not common in the tiny house scene in Hungary, we believe that encouraging people to create with timber helps everyone unearth hidden talents and skills."

The CLT panels used for the facade are the most expensive part of the cabin. "Those who know the material are familiar with its perks that go way beyond its cost," says project architect Péter Oravecz. "The panels are made out of recycled wood, which is a stable material and perfect for building small-scale homes. CLT panels also have a high fire resistance and a small ecological footprint." 

According to Hello Wood, Kabinka is a greener alternative to tiny homes built with non-renewable materials and conventional technologies. Ground screws eliminate the need for concrete foundations—and they allow the structure to adapt to a wide range of sites. The material palette is made up of just a few simple materials, and the building structure is constructed primarily of sustainably sourced timber. Even the cross section of the beams has been designed to use minimal material.

The structure of the cabin is light and mobile, with ground screws that allow it to be installed almost anywhere. 

Each cabin is branded with the Hello Wood logo. Kabinka is designed and manufactured in Hungary. It packs flat for shipping and can be self-assembled. "It’s the perfect choice for people who prefer thriftiness, simplicity, and a compact but refined lifestyle," says project architect Péter Oravecz. While the cabins are currently sold locally, they will soon be available for international shipping.

"Since we launched Kabinka, we’ve received positive feedback from all over the world," says Oravecz. "Our fans love it—and there have been more than a hundred enquiries about the cabin, from both individuals and companies. We believe that the design has really captured the attention of the market!"

A rendering shows Kabinka set up as a lakeside cabin with a different timber finish and a glazed facade.

Floor plan of Kabinka by Hello Wood

Elevation of Kabinka by Hello Wood

Section of Kabinka (With Mezzanine) by Hello Wood

Section of Kabinka by Hello Wood

Related Reading: 

This Tiny Backyard Cabin Is Inspired by Space Capsule Design

6 Prefab Companies Ready to Build Your New Backyard Office 

3 A-Frame Kit House Companies That Ship in the U.S.

Project Credits:

Designer: Hello Wood / @hellowood

Creative concept: András Huszár, Péter Pozsár, Dávid Ráday, Krisztián Tóth

Head architect: Péter Pozsár

Project architect: Péter Oravecz

Builder: Hello Wood

Photographer: Zsuzsa Darab

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