The opposite of a McMansion is a cabin in the woods

Looking to live in the opposite of a McMansion? That might lead you to a cabin in the woods, according to an architect called a “cabinologist” who defines cabins this way:

It has to be simple. There’s no place in a real cabin for a master suite or a formal entry, a formal dining room, an attached garage. I have changed my mind a bit on size, though.

Originally, I wrote that a cabin ought to have a 1,200-square-foot size limit. I do a fair number of cabins that are two bedrooms, with two baths, and maybe a sleeping loft, with a modest kitchen.

I’ve come around a little bit on size. I think the maximum number might be closer to 1,800 square feet. After that, it becomes a lodge or a lake home. It’s not a cabin anymore.

At that scale, the homes start to get too big, they start to have a different kind of feeling. At 2,000 square feet, there’s more of a houselike feeling. In those houses, you’re less likely to smell the coffee brewing when you wake up.

There appear to be several key features to being the anti-McMansion:

1. While McMansions are seen as ostentatious, cabins should be simple.

2. Cabins should be smaller than McMansions – which probably start somewhere around 2,500 to 3,000 square feet – but the cabinologist cited above thinks cabins don’t have to be small.

3. It is not explicitly discussed in this interview but the cabin should be more immersed in nature. Whereas McMansions are often associated with suburbia and some limited exposure to nature (there may be a lawn but the house may cover much of the lot, the neighborhoods are dependent on cars), cabins are supposed to be in the woods or on a lake or in the mountains.

Even with this argument about what a “true” cabin should be, I suspect there are plenty of getaway homes that approximate McMansions today with lots of space and expensive features.

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