To retain the classic appeal of a cabin but to make sure it's a modern, civilized home, a few tips can help you achieve rustic comfort.
Yesterday's cabins sheltered settlers and ranch-hands, fisherman and hunters. These folks valued practicality and workmanship. Your dreams may conjure up a more civilized home, but to retain its classic appeal, stay true to the roots of cabin style.
Simplify. Simple rooflines for your cabin will help you keep costs down and retain your cabin's charm. A dormer or two can help improve your cabin's livability, but going beyond that and designing overly complex rooflines can inflate the cost of a small home. The same theory holds true for bump-outs and exterior walls with odd angles. The fewer corners your log cabin plan has, the lower its price tag could be.
Double up. Make each room in your new cabin serve several purposes. The result? A hardworking interior that doesn't gobble up square footage. Could your dining area also be the place to pursue your hobby? Could a slightly larger bathroom accommodate the laundry? Do you need both a family room and a living room?
Learn from the locals. Pay attention to the traditional architecture in your area. Following local building customs will lead to a cabin that fits in visually and is best suited to your climate. And it's not just the traditional building's shape that's important. You might notice that many old-timers in your area kept small windows and utility spaces on the north side of their homes. Or, neighbors may use awnings to shade west-facing windows. Learn from their example and your cabin will be more pleasant.
Build up, not out. Unless you need all your living to be on one level, you'll buy yourself more space by planning for a 1 1/2-story or 2-story home instead of a rambling ranch. The costs differ because a long, one-level home requires more roofing, a larger foundation and longer runs for ducts, plumbing and wiring than a multi-level home.
Squeeze the square footage. How large will the rooms in your new cabin be? Measure the spaces you like in your current home and the homes of friends. Consider what furniture you will bring to the new cabin. Especially in bedrooms, adding closet space may even eliminate the need for dressers and chests. Who will live in the new home and what activities do you need to plan space for? While you don't want to be cramped, planning a cabin that's too large undermines its charm and raises its cost.