Cabin Design

The cabin where we stayed on our vacation last week, called Siskun Song, is gorgeous. “Cabin” almost feels like the wrong word, since this is really a nice large house that’s rented out as a cabin. The main room features wood floors, a high angled ceiling lined with fir or pine, and lots of big windows that look out on the snow-covered surrounding woods. There are three bedrooms in all, including a master bedroom that feels like a cabin by itself. I can’t find anything that states when the place was built, but it can’t be more than two years old. It’s been great to simply hang out, read books, cook meals, visit with our friends Mark and Salle, and generally relax.

Toilet Paper HangerThe architect and designers clearly spent a lot of effort on furnishing and decorating the whole place. The towel bars and toilet-paper holders in the bathrooms are all hand-hewn metals shaped like branches and leaves; the slate tile backsplash in the kitchen matches the slate floors and shower surrounds in the bathrooms. However, there are a few examples of poor design that stand out, perhaps because the rest of the place is done so well, that I can’t help but comment on.

For one, the gas fireplace in the main room is controlled by a thermostat mounted around the corner on another wall. After trying every switch in the room to light a fire, I called the proprieters of the cabin who suggested the thermostat. To make it work, you have to move the switch all the way to the right (past 80), which lights the flame… or rather, sometimes lights the flame. It finally caught after about 12 tries the first time I used it. Turning the thermostat down, which I can only guess is meant to control the intensity of the flame, just turns the fire off. So in addition to this new fireplace not working very well, it’s inscrutable to turn on in the first place.

ShowerAnother example is the shower: it’s a work of beauty, with copper-colored slate floor and walls, a custom glass wall, and attractive brushed-metal hardware. There is no door — you enter at the right side of the glass wall, then stand behind the glass to be under the water. But first, you must turn the water on, and the only place to do that is directly in the water’s path: unless you have extraordinarily long arms, you’re guaranteed to get blasted with cold water! The shower controls should be on the opposite wall as you get in.

A saving grace in the bathrooms is that they feature heated slate floors. Now this is a luxury I could appreciate. However, unless they’re on in the morning already (I can’t tell if they come on automatically or not), it takes a few hours to heat up. By that time, you’ve already showered, dressed, and gone snowshoeing. The alternative is to leave the heated floors on all the time, which is a waste of electricity.

I know these are quibbling matters, and that they’re small in the overall scheme of things. Believe me, I’m not complaining! It’s just that I see things like this and wonder, Didn’t they notice this when building the house? Were these conscious decisions, or just tradeoffs?

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