When Bon Iver dropped his first album, For Emma Forever Ago, people fell in love with the idea of the album as much as the album itself. Something about a man just going into hibernation, wintering in a cabin, and tapping into what he's got within himself ignites the imagination and resonates with people's beliefs.
The cabin kept by a man can conjure associations of austerity. Like he has no earthly cares, like he has come seeking monastic solitude.
But if camping can go glamping, the cabin is ready for an upgrade, too. Unexpected accents, a sturdy dose of mid-century modern, a dash of crystal, slabs of stone and reclaimed wood, handcrafted leather, a splash of Burberry plaid on a throw pillow with your splash of bourbon on the rocks—welcome to refined masculinity in a rustic setting.
Fuzzy flannels and rugged wood and stone pair for a dynamic textural contrast. Sculptural elements add worldly intrigue and anchor the space. Crystal is not just for the ladies. Remember that Superman’s Fortress of Solitude was made, at least in part, of crystal. Add that touch of glamour with a table lamp like our Taylor. Meanwhile, a floor lamp like our metal-shaded Burton can add the traditional handsome touch of luxury with its unified vintage brass finish, including the shade.
The bachelor pad and the man cave are clichéd ideas of what masculinity and domesticity look like together. This return to the rustic offers a liberating take.
Not that masculinity and domesticity are mutually exclusive. (Just think of the bower bird.) If you find yourself rambling in the Hudson Valley, in upstate New York, visit John Burroughs’s cabin, Slabsides. Step onto its porch and peer through its windows. Imagine what a life he lead there, having Walt Whitman over for a walk, writing on his observations of nature, then sending the finished work off to the best and biggest magazines in the nation. Watching the seasons change, stoking the fire, sitting on the porch, settling down into his cozy bed with its quilt his mother made. Then recall tales of what a hit he was with the Vassar girls. It’s not all hermitude and reflecting on nature.
If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature; and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature. —John Burroughs, New York State Naturalist
Winter and cabins go hand in hand. Long nights require good books handy. The refined rustic will have his stash well-lighted with a picture light and will have good lighting for reading through the night.
Recently, we mentioned about Thoreau in our Road Trip post on Boston (and Concord, and Lexington). Walden stands as the ür-text of man alone in his cabin. When Thoreau made his dream home in his cabin by Walden pond, he said “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”
And you know what? He’s still right.
161 years after his book was released, the clarion call still rings true. Streamline things and let the details and textures stand out. Pick things that make you happy. We might add “Texture. Texture. Texture.”
Simplify and accentuate the textures. When we design our fixtures, we apply the same maxim. We take out all the fuss and unnecessary baroque excess from old designs and whittle them down to the parts that matter: the curve of a line, the detail on an arm or candlecup, the material used in a shade.
You notice what’s left more, and it makes an aesthetic impact. It also allows for textural contrast to work its magic, elevating the quotidian to the sublime.
We've got a ton of inspiration for this look up on this post's complementary Pinterest board. Get inpired by checking it out here.
What would you want in your cabin? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured Image is of Slabsides, John Burroughs's cabin, in the winter.