A cabin, by definition, is cozy. The most restorative part of a cabin is that it is not your house. Have you read about the Scandinavian concept of “hygge”? It is a way of living and being that creates cozy-warmth, friendliness, time for conversation, time to eat good food, time to be. Deprivation is one of the things that emanates from a cabin. It’s what you don’t have that allows you to unhitch from life at the speed of 2017 and shift down, way down, to a pace that allows creativity to bloom, family connections to solidify, friendships to grow, and thoughts to wander and ramble.
The cozy cabin is partly cozy by size. Because it is small, you are forced to face those around you. The outdoors, decks, patios, yards and docks become part of the living space, allowing you to be back where you belong among trees and birds and embedded in the weather. You don’t need a weather person telling you what’s going to happen; you see, feel and smell the weather as it changes. You observe the wind change and shiver at the distant rumble of an approaching storm. The cozy cabin does not allow you to hide from the weather and its delivered creations of rain, lightning or hail.
Cozy cabins don’t have things that match. Furniture tends to have come with the cabin, been scavenged at garage sales or passed down through the generations. For example, our cabin sports a chaise lounge (basically a couch with a small armrest on one end) that is over 100 years old. It is highly handy in a cozy cabin, because it hides beneath it a frame that you pull out, then you pull down the cushion from the chaise lounge and it makes a very small but practical undersized double bed. It is on its second or third upholstery job and is still going strong. Oh, and it has a large, rolled, cylinder-shaped cushion at the armrest end that perfectly cradles your head.
Cozy cabins encourage patience, politeness and waiting. These characteristics are cultivated by the fact that cozy cabins have only one bathroom. One bathroom means that if there are a lot of people visiting, proper etiquette is to check and see if anyone is more desperate then you are to use the one bathroom. I pondered this the other day and wondered if the outhouses of old also bred these sought-after personal characteristics. I live for the day when we can add an additional incinerating toilet to our bathroom options.
Cozy cabin kitchens are small. My mom always said ours was a two-butt kitchen, and I always say: It depends on the size of the butts. In any case, the kitchen has one entrance, and once you are in it, everything you need to cook with is within arm’s reach. When I described it to a friend who is a catering chef, she said, “Ah, yes, I understand why you love it. It’s like you are in the cockpit.” So accurate! It is small, efficient and improved by additions of need, such as implements hanging under the cupboards and open shelves. It’s small but mighty, as it fed over 75 people at our wedding reception.
Cozy cabins make you want to nap. This is a problem especially if the cabin needs maintenance such as painting, mowing or window washing. A word I have heard applied to our cabin is “soporific” — you will have to look it up. But that word so applies that we often tell visitors when they first arrive that they are free to nap anytime they want, and then we recommend the best places in the cozy cabin to retire to.
I hope you have a cozy cabin in your life. A stuga. It doesn’t have to be owned; in our wonderful state, you can even rent one at a state park. Or better yet, find a friend who has one and offer to cabin-sit for them. If none of these options is possible, even a small space in a home can become cozy, hygge, comfortable, intimate and safe. Find your spot, find time to occupy it, get cozy and invite a person to share it with you.
Kris Potter lives in Minneapolis.