Small Cabin Inside Layout

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Small Cabin Inside Layout

  • Hi, I am new here.  I am building a small 10x16 cabin on my 2 acre wooded lake lot.  It is a very private area in Northern Wisconsin, and the cabin will be used mainly by my wife, young daughter, and I.  We will have a have  small separate shed/bathroom next to the cabin.  We have electric and water available.  We want a small cabin so it blends into the area, and we will be outdoors often.  My question is how do I layout the inside as to optimize space?  We really only need a sleeping area, and the rest will be open.  Bunks?  Convertible tables/couch, etc.?  Any comments and ideas are appreciated.  Thanks!

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  • Having already built a few DIY buildings (and in the midst of my biggest undertaking),  here are a couple of thoughts.

    When constructing a fairly simple design style building (ie; gable or gambrel or similar where you have 2 ends of the building that are very similar and the structure in between is a tunnel that connects the 2 ends), remember that all the higher costs and increased labor is at the ends.  The devil is in the details.  What I called a "tunnel that connects the 2 ends" would be the living space and is a stretching of repetition.  For instance, if you are planning a 10' wide x 16' long gable end cabin, the cheapest real estate (and easiest to create) is the repetitive framing, sheathing, and roofing of the 16' long run.  Knowing this, do not sell your plan short if you can stretch the length.  Now is the time to do it.  Dollar for dollar, labor hour for labor hour, it is by far the lowest cost variable of the square footage equation.  Everybody suffers from four-foot-itus.  The trick is to take the cure BEFORE you lay out the foundation.

    Consider the gambrel roof design.  It will provide living space up above.  The trick is to build in a shed dormer.  I have built 2 of these type structures for myself, mostly because of the bang for the buck.  A cape cod design (10/12 or 12/12 roof slope) will do the same, but more sq footage will be lost on any area without a dormer than a gambrel w/o the dormer.  Think about it.  For the cost of the roof framing, sheathing, and shingles (or metal roof...?), you now have a second story of living space.

  • Blueberry Landing,

    Welcome! And how exciting to be building a new cabin! Here are a few Cabin Life articles you may find helpful:

    How to Get the Most Out of Your Floor Plan

    The Nook Look: Big Benefits Come in Small Spaces

    How Much Cabin Do You Really Need: Living Large on a Small Footprint

    Trends in Not-So-Big Design

    Good luck! And let us know if we can help in any way further.

    Emily Hare
    Editorial Assistant
    Cabin Life magazine

  • Our first cabin was 16 x 16' and we had a homemade bed in the loft (made from 2 x 4's with a futon mattress).  In our main living area we had a queen sleeper sofa and a futon so we could sleep 6 altogether.  Our small round kitchen table only took up a small section of the living area.

  • That sounds beautiful! Good luck to you!
  • We have a very small cabin in the UP of Michigan.  We have one room kitchen/dining/living room and a seperate bedroom with bunks.  The living room has a futon.  We don't have water or electricity, but get by fine all year long with propane, a woodstove and a rather nice outhouse.  We use 5 gallon containers of water with a spout over a plastic utility sink in the kitchen for washing dishes.  A 5 gallon pail is under the sink and dumped to prevent frozen pipes in the winter.  We recently decided to put in a refigerator, but due to lack of room inside, built an enclosure for it outside and cut a hole in the wall so just the door is inside.  We vented and insulated the enclosure since it runs on propane.  This also keeps all of the propane outside of the cabin.