Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Labor Day has passed us by, everyone has made their last pilgrimage to the cabin before school starts, and now all that’s left before us is crisp fall breezes and the exciting prospect of shutting down the cabin for the winter. Okay, not so exciting for most.
But now is the perfect time to brainstorm how you are going to refresh that cabin next spring to make it an even more inviting space to spend every weekend (and maybe a few fridays too, if you can sneak out without the boss noticing). Now I don’t have a family cabin (how un-Minnesotan, right?) but we periodically rent out a place for a week to escape the city and soak in views of pine trees, water and lots of sky. And the sad truth is that most cabins I’ve seen are a place where ugly furniture goes to die. I think it’s time to change all that.
I propose the following cabin as an excellent case study (the name of the resort will be withheld to protect the design challenged.)
Yes, I realize that southwestern plaid sleeper sofa adds room for extra guests, but you do realize the cushions lost their filling about 5 years ago and I’m sitting on the springs?
And can someone please explain why the recliner that always leans back (with no one sitting in it) has a log under it? It seemed to weighs 300 lbs, so it is no small feat to rotate it to look at the lake instead of the fireplace. Very functional, wouldn’t you say?
The big farm table is great for craft projects during the day (note the glue gun above if you doubt me), and big or small family meals in the evening. But while those chairs might be sturdy, I honestly think they’re ugly. (There, I was blunt and just said it.)
I won’t even mentioned that “carpeting.”
So, with this beautifully furnished cabin as a retreat, whether for a week or every weekend in the summer, you are definitely going to want to spend all your time outside. But imagine if you took these good bones and gave them an update with a budget. I know most people can’t afford to buy nice furniture for a second home or rental property. But uncomfortable and ugly is good for no one’s soul (especially when you are trying to relax!) So with that in mind, I gave this place an imaginary IKEA makeover.
So here’s the basics:
1. New sofa – available with or without sleeper sofa. Pick a darker neutral color that won’t show wear and tear. When the fabric starts getting worn, you can order a new slipcover in a wide variety of fabrics from Bemz. Check them out if you haven’t already!
2. New armchair – if you have to stick with a big recliner, at least get one that swivels! You still get the pop-up leg rest with this model, and in leather it wipes clean after sticky marshmallow hands.
3. Additional armchair(s) – if you’re fine with skipping the big recliner, these two smaller scale chairs still offer lots of comfort and flexibility. Especially since they are light enough to move around the room if necessary. People like their own seat, so I think having more small chairs is preferrable to one large chair, especially if they are all comfortable.
4. Dining room chairs – the big farm table works for me, and with new chairs in a simple, classic silhouette in looks fresh again. I like the contrast of the dark black-brown finish, but the grey-brown finish is nice too. You could even mix and match the two finishes!
5. Accessories – don’t forget plenty of soft throw pillows for the couch and floor. Add other accessories that pull from all the beautiful natural materials outside the cabin door. Turquoise duck head bookends do NOT count. Instead, use a couple of large beautiful rocks from the shoreline as bookends. If they aren’t flat on the bottom, glue them to blocks of wood to make them stable. Or pile up lots of small rocks into a fun formation on a wooden block (see glue gun) to use as art or bookends. The possibilities are endless!
6. Outside seating – at the lake it’s all about the view. And flimsy plastic chairs just don’t cut it. You want to be able to relax and take in the view for more than 15 minutes without a backache. A rocking chair, a cup of coffee, or a stick to widdle sounds pretty ideal to me. The Adirondack chair is a classic all over the country. I like this version with an adjustable back and a fold out leg rest. Don’t you dare buy just one! But be sure the seat is high enough to see over any railings, otherwise you’ll be frustrated every time you sit down.
Okay, that’s my take on the quick and economical update to the family cabin. Almost everything was sourced from IKEA, except the accessories, porch furniture, and existing table. The rocking chair is from Fleet Farm (what a bargain!) and a plain Adirondack chair is available from them for $40 as well. The fancy version is from www.adirondackchairs.com.
What do you think of this makeover? What else would you change or what would you do differently? A rental has different needs than a family cabin, but the idea of updating on a budget works for both.
Do you need tips on updating your cabin or other space? I’m curious what challenges other cabins present.