Cabinland: A Rustic Fairytale Retreat in the Pacific Northwest

Looking for some contemporary cabin inspiration that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before? Then you’re going to want to check out Cabinland, an incredible project located in the mossy rainforest of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Self-taught builder Jacob Witzling and his partner Sara Underwood are in the process of building their own compound of unique cabins in a range of styles and sizes using lumber, reclaimed materials and what they find on their land. 

witzling mossy cabin

Raised in New Hampshire, Witzling moved out to Washington to be an elementary school teacher, and began building cabins in his free time just for fun. He took an experimental approach, eschewing traditional rectilinear floor plans for octagons and other unexpected shapes. His first cabin was built using scraps scavenged from construction sites for just $800. Now, he and Underwood have refined a style that’s all their own.

Irregular and organic shapes abound, such as in the roof of this 80-square foot cabin (and their “truck cabin,” built on the back of a pickup truck.) 

cabinland spire

Another 200-square-foot cabin features a roof spire, hand-hewn shingles and one of Witzling’s signatures: a handmade wooden door.

Cabinland Diamond house

“Diamond House” serves as the couple’s walk-in closet and dressing room, featuring a pointed shape and another signature element, a metal roof covered in chicken wire and living moss. 

The couple is in the process of building their very own “cabin castle,” a full-scale series of connected volumes measuring a total of 900 square feet, which will be their home. You can see part of their building process on YouTube, including the miniature models they made before they broke ground.

The interiors are just as incredible as the exteriors, all hand crafted and chock full of wood.

Check out more of these incredible handmade cabins on Instagram @pnwcabinland.

Contemporary Pine Cabin Retreat Complete with Floating Boardwalks

Pine sustainable cabins South Africa

With a gorgeous setting in the heathlands of South Africa, home to one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems, this complex of vacation cabins had to be low-impact on the land while making the most of the views. KLG Architects created a series of pine cabins connected by a floating boardwalk that protects the sensitive vegetation of the “fynbos,” a belt of natural scrubland in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces.

Pine sustainable cabins South Africa outside
Pine sustainable cabins South Africa view

Fynbos is full of endemic plant and animal species, meaning they’re found nowhere else on Earth. One area called Table Mountain has more species of plants than the entire British Isles. With a Mediterranean climate, many colorful flowers and steep, dramatic mountains, it’s a truly special place. The architects wanted to highlight the beauty of these surroundings with lots of glass, and materials that augment nature instead of contrasting with it. 

Pine sustainable cabins South Africa pine close up
Pine sustainable cabins South Africa interior

“Pine was chosen as the most suitable building material because it is lightweight, readily available, and will fade to grey and blend into the natural landscape over time. The timber construction methodology allows the cabins to “float” over the fynbos. The foundations are restricted to small concrete pad foundations, which limits the impact on the ground, and the environment. The raised cabins allow ground water, the local fauna, insects and snakes uninterrupted routes under the cabins.”

Pine sustainable cabins South Africa fynbos boardwalk
Pine sustainable cabins South Africa landscape

“The units are designed to respond to the area’s weather and climate. Careful consideration of orientation allows scenic views and wind protection.  High specification insulation panels in the walls, roof and floor keep the units cool in summer and warm in winter. Timber slatted sun screens on the pergolas control the summer sun over the decks. Large gabion walls which house the built-in braai’s also provide cooling through thermal massing. Carefully chosen indigenous endemic grasses are planted on the roof in roof trays that allow for easy maintenance. The mass of the soil improves the thermal qualities of the roof.”

The cabins were placed in areas where they’d have the lowest possible impact on the ground, and off-grid technology like dry composting toilets and purified river water eliminates the need for utilities. The effect of the complex is modern, but in a way that’s drawn from South African architectural history, and the pine will help them fit seamlessly into the environment as they age.

Getaway Cabins: Eastern White Pine Retreats in Charlotte, North Carolina

Eastern White Pine Getaway Cabins exterior

With the global pandemic limiting travel, domestic vacations and road trips are the way to go – for now, at least. A company called Getaway makes it easy and affordable to escape into nature for some relaxation or reconnection with a loved one. They have 80 small cabins situated in clusters of 20-30 on woodlands outside major cities like Boston, New York, Washington DC, Charlotte and Los Angeles. 

Eastern White Pine Getaway Cabins

Their newest cabins, Getaway Asheboro, are set in North Carolina and made with Eastern White Pine. All feature giant picture windows, kitchenettes, private bathrooms, campfire circles and views of the trees. Each cabin is set at least 40 feet from the next, offering a place where guests can immerse themselves in nature as effortlessly as possible. There’s no wifi, so you’ll want to bring your books, art projects, notebooks or just your desire to veg out in a distraction-free space. In fact, a latched box inside each cabin encourages you to put away your phone for the duration of your visit.

Eastern White Pine Getaway Cabins bed

Inside, all that Eastern White Pine creates a space that feels clean, airy and harmonious with the setting. You’ll find a dorm-size refrigerator, two-burner stove, cookware and some basic grocery items like oatmeal and pasta, a shower, a toilet and a comfy bed. Each cabin measures about 8 by 20 feet and costs $100-$200 per night, and access is provided by a punch code received online prior to your visit.

Eastern White Pine Getaway Cabins loft

Cabins are available with enough space to sleep two to four people, and you can reserve several adjacent cabins for larger groups, though founders Pete Davis and Jon Staff say this isn’t the place for parties; the use of “indoor voices” is recommended.

Check them out at Getaway.House.

Creative Cabin Facade Made of Logs Transforms When it Snows

Skigard Hytte Cabin facade summer

Have you ever seen a cabin that looks quite like this? Diagonal siding is pretty rare as it is, but for a modern getaway in Kvitfjell, Norway, Mork-Ulnes Architects created something that’s even more unusual than it appears at first glance.

The Skigard Hytte Cabin sits at the top of a mountain about 3,100 feet above sea level. Its high altitude and exposure means it gets a lot of snow in the winter, and as far as its owners are concerned, that’s not a bad thing. From November through April, they can put on downhill skis to reach the local market and return home using ski lifts, or use cross country skis to access hundreds of miles of trails leading to country lodges.

Skigard Hytte Cabin mountaintop

The rough facade of the cabin is made of skigard, a quarter-cut log traditionally laid out diagonally by Norwegian farmers as fencing. Not only does it help the cabin blend into its forested environment, it has a transformational quality. In the winter, the gaps in the siding fill with snow to give it a “new and softer expression.”

Skigard Hytte Cabin facade detail

Skigard Hytte Cabin snowy landscape

Skigard Hytte Cabin snow

“The grass top of the cabin also recalls the traditional sod roofs, common on rural log houses in Scandinavia until the late 19th century. Listed by the local planning regulations as one of the few materials allowed for roofs (in addition to slate or wood), the fuzzy top, moving with the wind, helps soften the otherwise rigid rectilinear geometry of the cabin.  The cabin has a regular plan – an enfilade sequence of rooms in a row, following a central corridor – called Trønderlån in the Trøndelag region of Norway where Casper’s mother was born.”

Skigard Hytte Cabin grass roof

“The architects have designed several other buildings on piers or raised foundations, like Moose Road (constructed on steel stilts to avoid severing tree roots) and Trollhus (lifted on concrete legs to protect it from snow), where they learned that it was an effective way of dealing with high snowdrifts and not needing to shovel the house out when the snow accumulates around doors and windows. Here, they decided to raise the cabin not just to have some protection from the elements while maximizing natural light and views, but also because they didn’t want to ruin the terrain with the earthwork required for a conventional foundation.”

Skigard Hytte Cabin pine interior Skigard Hytte Cabin pine interior 2

Skigard Hytte Cabin verandah

Plus, almost every surface inside and out is clad in wood. Inside, “light and smooth solid pine paneling creates an intimate and cozy feel, offering few distractions to take the eyes away from nature outside.” All of the cabinetry and custom furniture is also made of pine, as is the open portal-like verandah in the center of the house.

Bookworm Cabin: A Pine Home Away From Home in the Forest

Bookworm cabin view

If you had your very own vacation cabin designed to maximize your reading enjoyment, how could you ever leave? “The Bookworm Cabin” is exactly what it sounds like, a home away from home surrounded by peaceful natural scenery with interiors that prioritize plenty of bookshelves and natural light.

Designed and built by its owners, Bartlomiej Kraciukand and Marta Puchalska-Kraciuk, the 377-square-foot cabin is located about 31 miles outside Warsaw, Poland. The couple took inspiration from both the forest and nearby sand dunes for the design, which features a dramatic sloping roofline.

Bookworm Cabin exterior

While being immersed in nature is enough for some people, interior designer Puchalska-Kraciuk wanted to make sure she wouldn’t get bored.

“I just loved staring at this landscape – but how long can you do that for?” She told Dwell. “Maybe longer if you are indoors facing a big window, sitting on a comfy chair. Still, how long can you endure this? That’s when the idea to fill it with books came in. That way one can sit, stare, and have a reason for it – the reason being reading a book.”

Bookworm Cabin shutters

Bookworm Cabin interior

The Bookworm Cabin features a pine and spruce exterior and one wall that consists almost entirely of glass doors and windows, with two enormous shutters that can close to protect it when the owner aren’t there. The 16-foot ceiling lets light stream into both the main level and the loft. The cast-iron wood stove, an Iwaki model by Invicta, acts as a focal point inside – at least, if you can tear yourself away from the views.

Bookworm Cabin kitchen

Pine was used throughout the interiors as well, even in places you might not expect at first glance. The custom-made pine plywood cabinetry was “hand-impregnated” with micro cement to give it a unique finish. See more photos and get additional details at Dwell.

Pine, Inside and Out: Pinwheel-Shaped Modern Cabin Frames Wintry Views

Pinwheel Cabin

Now here’s some cool modern cabin style! Clad in pine inside and out, this compact residence by Mork Ulnes Architects features a pinwheel-shaped plan to frame four different views of the wintry landscape. Not only does this result in a highly unusual house shape, it gives each individual wing of home additional privacy along with its own private outdoor space.

Pinwheel Pine Cabin 3

Measuring just 940 square feet and surrounded by towering pines, this home outside Oslo was designed as a retreat for a geologist and his family. The architects explain that “Mylla Hytte” takes its shape from the forces of the landscape around it.

Pinwheel Pine Cabin 4

Pinwheel Pine Cabin 5

Pinwheel Pine Cabin 6

“Though planning regulations required a gable roof, Mylla splits the gable in half to create four shed roofs that radiate in a pinwheel configuration. Two sheltered outdoor spaces are created which are protected from the wind and from snow shed. The exterior is clad simply with untreated heart pine planks, which register the seasons as it grays and weathers with time.”

“The compact interior, finished in plywood and unified with a continuous roof canopy, can house up to ten people across three dedicated bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Custom plywood furniture, including bed frames, bunk beds, couch, dining table, benches and shelves are found throughout.”

“The wings of the house engage four distinct characters of the landscape: the great room looks onto Mylla Lake, the guest room looks toward the rolling hillside, the kids’ room looks up at the sky, and the bedroom has a private view of the towering forest beyond.”

Pinwheel Pine Cabin 2

It’s always cool to see how different architects interpret pine and all of its possibilities, and there’s no denying that the material really shines in this simple yet playful form.