7 Unbelievable Rustic Cabin Makeovers

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Contemporary, chic, and oh-so cozy—these rustic cabin makeovers are oozing with design inspiration.

Often tucked away in a peaceful pocket of nature, far from crowds and chaos, tiny cabins boast huge potential for renovation. Here are seven exceptional rustic cabin makeovers that caught our eye. 

Grandpa’s Utah A-Frame Gets Tastefully Updated

Built over 30 years ago by owner and designer Kara Van Dyke's grandfather, this log cabin on a private 20-acre mountain estate near Utah's Uinta National Forest has been revamped into a warm and welcoming holiday rental named A-Frame Haus.

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Before: The exterior of the cabin, which was built over 30 years ago.

Before: The exterior of the cabin, which was built over 30 years ago.

After: A look at A-Frame Haus in Herber City, Utah.

After: A look at A-Frame Haus in Herber City, Utah.

After: With the orientation of the kitchen work areas altered during the remodel, sunlight from the slanting windows can now better illuminate the cooking station.

After: With the orientation of the kitchen work areas altered during the remodel, sunlight from the slanting windows can now better illuminate the cooking station.

Monochromatic Lake Tahoe A-Frame

Working together with MSM Construction, Diana Vincent of High Camp Home has redesigned this 2,700-square-foot cabin in Lake Tahoe, California, with a monochromatic palette.

Before: Prior to the renovation, the interiors felt dark and dated.

Before: Prior to the renovation, the interiors felt dark and dated.

After: Now, the contemporary cabin radiates a bright and airy atmosphere.

After: Now, the contemporary cabin radiates a bright and airy atmosphere.

After: The cabin was also featured in our 2017 September/October issue.

After: The cabin was also featured in our 2017 September/October issue.

A Snug Catskill Vacation Rental

A DIY renovation by New York City–based couple Danielle and Ely Franko transformed this 1971 Catskills cabin into a cozy holiday rental, now known as The Hunter Greenhouse.

Before: A look at the exterior of the Hunter Greenhouse prior to the remodel.

Before: A look at the exterior of the Hunter Greenhouse prior to the remodel.

After: "We really didn’t have any experience taking on a project of this scale," says Ely. "We’re both generally impulsive people, so we purchased this house—which was a broken shell of a space—with really no plan on how to proceed."

After: "We really didn’t have any experience taking on a project of this scale," says Ely. "We’re both generally impulsive people, so we purchased this house—which was a broken shell of a space—with really no plan on how to proceed."

After: The fresh, white interiors help the home feel more spacious and offset the exposed wood beams.

After: The fresh, white interiors help the home feel more spacious and offset the exposed wood beams.

1970s A-Frame in Big Bear, California

Courtney Poulos, owner of L.A. real estate agency ACME Real Estate, bought and refreshed this 1973 A-frame cabin on a shaded cul-de-sac in Big Bear, California, turning it into a modern home that still retains its rustic, midcentury spirit.

Before: A look at the dated interior.

Before: A look at the dated interior.

After: As part of the redesign, the exterior of the cabin was painted black. 

After: As part of the redesign, the exterior of the cabin was painted black. 

After: Two matching Article side chairs face the sliding door leading to the deck.

After: Two matching Article side chairs face the sliding door leading to the deck.

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A Rescued Joshua Tree Desert Oasis

After purchasing a 1957 abandoned cabin in Joshua Tree, California, for just $7,000, Kathrin and Brian Smirke conducted an extensive DIY remodel, and turned the decaying structure into an airy, 480-square-foot desert retreat.

Before: The condition of the home when the Smirkes purchased it in 2015.

Before: The condition of the home when the Smirkes purchased it in 2015.

After: The sliding glass doors were added to help integrate the home to the outdoors. The abundant desert sunshine makes natural lighting a viable option all day long.

After: The sliding glass doors were added to help integrate the home to the outdoors. The abundant desert sunshine makes natural lighting a viable option all day long.

After: Wood paneling and a platform bed was a perfect solution for fitting a king-size bed into a small space.

After: Wood paneling and a platform bed was a perfect solution for fitting a king-size bed into a small space.

A Quebec Cabin With an Upward Extension

This rundown cabin in Quebec was lovingly restored and extended by YH2 Architecture, and is now a 1,300-square-foot modern home.

Before: By building upward and outward, YH2 Architecture added to a former lumberman’s shed without harming the nearby trees.

Before: By building upward and outward, YH2 Architecture added to a former lumberman’s shed without harming the nearby trees.

After: The 1,300-square-foot home is neatly tucked away in Southeastern Quebec.

After: The 1,300-square-foot home is neatly tucked away in Southeastern Quebec.

After: A peek inside the beautifully restored, modernized abode.

After: A peek inside the beautifully restored, modernized abode.

From Ranch House to Weekend Cabin 

This low-key 1970s ranch house in Harbert, Michigan, has been thoughtfully restored by architect Greg Howe of Searl Lamaster Howe. Thanks to the strategic redesign, the home is now a spacious weekend cabin with plenty of character.

Before: Howe’s client had a sentimental attachment to the old home. This drew the architect’s focus toward a minimal, open-plan renovation. "It had the worst smell I had ever smelled in a house, due to moisture," notes Howe.

Before: Howe’s client had a sentimental attachment to the old home. This drew the architect’s focus toward a minimal, open-plan renovation. "It had the worst smell I had ever smelled in a house, due to moisture," notes Howe.

After: "When you’re doing a second home, a lot of the character of the design is defined by what it isn’t," Howe adds, as a way of explaining the minimalistic approach that was taken on this Michigan weekend home. "If you think of it as cold, you have to remember that the setting and access to nature is the point."

After: "When you’re doing a second home, a lot of the character of the design is defined by what it isn’t," Howe adds, as a way of explaining the minimalistic approach that was taken on this Michigan weekend home. "If you think of it as cold, you have to remember that the setting and access to nature is the point."

After: Completed in 2013, the roughly 1,500-square-foot cabin provides an open living area, now framed by white trusses and concrete floors. The dining table was acquired by the owner from a local inn, and is surrounded by the Eames molded plastic Eiffel side chairs from Design Within Reach. The kitchen features a Grohe faucet, a wood bowl from a shop in Harbert, and an IKEA vase.

After: Completed in 2013, the roughly 1,500-square-foot cabin provides an open living area, now framed by white trusses and concrete floors. The dining table was acquired by the owner from a local inn, and is surrounded by the Eames molded plastic Eiffel side chairs from Design Within Reach. The kitchen features a Grohe faucet, a wood bowl from a shop in Harbert, and an IKEA vase.