I just spent a week in a log cabin.
I find the images this statement conjures in others’ minds to be amusing. Some think I mean a log home—a house built to plan with pre-machined logs. Others imagine a tiny, one or two-room hunting shack. What I’m referring to is an actual, hand-built log cabin that is large enough to comfortably house three families for a week of R&R. It has four bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, two full baths, and a massive, high-ceilinged living room.
My grandfather architected the structure, and with the help of his wife, children, and his parents, cut the trees, gathered stone, and made walls. He ran electrical wiring and plumbing, hung doors and windows, floored and roofed it. The only part he didn’t build himself was the large, stone fireplace and chimney.
It is rustic. It is rough and uneven. It is full of mismatched furniture found at flea markets or old, worn-out items from my grandparents’ home, even some chairs left over from the family practice he ran years ago. The rugs and curtains are faded and worn. The wall hangings are mostly paint-by-numbers that my mother and uncles did as children. It’s clean, but there are cobwebs in the corners and the occasional signs of mice. Side-tables are adorned with lamps made from antique wood planes and pieces of driftwood found in the river.
It is rustic. It is rough and uneven. It was planned and constructed with care, but it wasn’t “designed”. Rather than a Brancusi or Boccioni, the cabin is like a Cornell—a collection of found objects—the juxtaposition of which casts shadows of stories across the dark-stained wood of the walls. It is strictly utilitarian, and yet it has its own beauty, its own character, much like the wrinkled hands of its builder.
It is rustic. It is rough and uneven. I wouldn’t design it any other way.