Cabin fever: Part 1
Cabin fever: Part 1

Why the humble cabin has raised in prominence in Australian architecture & design

Words by Corinne Roberts

At Made by Pen we know we’re not alone in loving cabins. They have captured zeitgeist. Cabins are usually built from basic but good quality materials and demonstrate to us how one small space can serve many functions.

Australians have embraced small-living partly due to necessity. Big inner city houses on long blocks, dominated by expansive hills hoists, have long been sub-divided and rebuilt as townhouses and apartments.

Eat, sleep and by comforted by an open fire in the Bruny Island Hideaway by Maguire + Devine Architects. Image © Maguire + Devine Architects.


We now need living spaces that are flexible and give us the freedom to be interpreted in many different ways – rather than many rooms cluttered with belongings (see our blog on decluttering).

Perhaps it’s a living room that serves as a home office, a place to watch TV, a reading room and a kids play area all in the one.

This is not just evident in how we live, but in how we holiday. Or at least, what we lust for in a holiday, enter the cabin.

As people interested in design, we love cabins because a lot of thought has been put into how the space will be used. Perhaps the bed is also a place to sit and contemplate. The kitchen is almost always striped back to its bare functionality.

The multi-use living space of the Garden House by Baracco Wright Architects. Image © Baracco Wright Architects.


At Made by Pen we work with designers that push the brief for freedom and flexibility in how we use space. The Sway floor lamp by Nick Rennie and Linea desk organiser by Jim Hannon-Tan are both important contributions in this space. Pushing Australian design forward. Showing us our future. Cabins meanwhile take us back to our past. We can find inspiration from cabins in how we use space today while not compromising on design. Or maybe we just like them for the feeling of nostalgia they give us, for a more simple life

A simple A-frame creates a flexible living and sleeping space in JR’s Hut on Kimo Estate. Image ©Kimo Estate



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