Ultimate Summer Hideaway #3: Jess's Magic Cabin

Ultimate Summer Hideaway #3: Jess's Magic Cabin

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Maxwell Ryan
Aug 19, 2005

Name: Jess Location: The Adirondacks, NY Designer: Jess, Red Pitkin of Lok'n Logs Resources: Magazines: Cabin Life, Adirondack Life Books: The Cabin: Inspirations for the Classic American Getaway (absolutely an inspiration for me, I love this book. I must have read every word 20 times while I was dreaming of this place. It captures beautifully what I believe to be the essence of why we build cabins) by Dale Mulfinger Log Home Manufacturer: Lok'n Logs

Pitch: “The Cabin” is a wonderful hideaway. It was built for me by a talented log contractor in early 2003, with the express purpose of not seeing anybody, hearing anybody, and being completely at ease. It sits in the middle of 7 acres, which is attached to a small private lake in the central Adirondacks. The designer’s were myself and my contractor, who together managed to make a floorplan/siteplan that fit my vision, AND was structurally sound and nature sensitive. Continued below...

It is small, but big enough for a guest without resorting to the floor, and super easy to maintain. The ground floor consisting of a ‘living area’ which encompasses dining, kitchen and living, a single bathroom, with a galvanized bucket sink, the one really crazy idea that my contractor could NOT talk me out of, a bedroom, and a tiny mud hall which is used as the entrance for muddy, wet feet and all our gear storage.

The top floor is completely open, save for the twig banisters, and is a sleeping loft for guests. It also has a walkway to the cozy top porch. The porches are the best “rooms” in the place.

On the décor: The idea here is rustic country. Rustic to me is a combination of purposefully made rustic/twig pieces mixed with a healthy dose of nicely made, but simple wooden furniture. Relatively nothing matches from piece to piece, and 90% of the furniture was bought over time from antique/junk stores and the occasional yard sale. 50% of the pieces cost less than $25 bucks, 90% less than $100.

Aside from the table (an old farm table I got for $170 bucks, still a steal), the mattresses and the couch, much is fixed up old junk furniture. Perfect for the look, and even more perfect because as a ‘fun’ place, I don't want to care if there is a scratch on the furniture. I raided the camping section at Wal-Mart for dishes and mugs, as well as a few lanterns for that feeling of roughing it while still having running water and a stove behind you.

You won’t find curtains or blinds here, except for one in the bathroom, requested by guests whom I surmise felt the wildlife was looking in at them. (Woodpeckers, the biggest peeping toms of the forest set). The windows with their green views are so much better than pictures, I didn’t want to cover any of them. What does hang on the walls are vintage showshoes, canteens, lanterns, fishing rods and lures. Childhood camp nostalgia. Because there is so much going on architecturally, the furnishing are actually on the sparse side, and we follow the mantra “Stop junking up the cabin.” Why my cabin getaway is a winner: 1)It’s cheaper than it looks by a lot. The idea of a getaway should be a “get away” from your constant worries. What exactly is worry free about a place that cost you a fortune and maintenance costs have you thinking that you might have to give it up or rent it out if you lost your job? Being a decent distance away from NYC, really extends your dollar 10 fold.

2)It’s exactly me because I did it myself! It’s also funky. It has a sunken bucket sink, open log slab ‘cabinets’ and log slab countertops. 3)It is low-tech. The lack of TV, computer, etc, really does make you appreciate the outdoors, a book or a game of cards with the gang. It is nice every once in a while to unplug, and here you don’t have any other choice (cellphones and blackberries don’t work!).

4) Finally, I truly believe even the nature-petrified among us would catch the magic of this place if they stepped foot down the driveway. Any of my guest would tell you that the pictures don’t quite capture the feeling. It is a different world, and one where strangely nothing could be better on a Saturday night than a glass of wine and a good book or fireside conversation, or a Sunday morning drinking coffee in the front porch rocking chair, listening to the birds chatting in the early sun. And right down the rutted country drive, outdoor adventure of every kind awaits: biking, fishing, canoeing, hiking, swimming, white water rafting, and boating, even tennis and golf are near.....and you never, ever have to make a reservation for anything. I can’t think of any better apartment therapy than a few days away from it!

My suggestions are: Keep it cheap, keep it simple (aka rein yourself in), and don’t listen to everyone else when they tell you that you are crazy to do something ‘this big’ on your own. Nothing is too hard if you take it one step at a time. This is how I did it, young, and a single girl to boot, and though the contractors looked at me like I was some 10 year old who would break if asked to swing a hammer, really who cares?

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