There was a time when ‘rustic cabin’ meant ‘cheap vacation’ – but a true retreat in this day and age is, for many of us, finding elegance in natural simplicity and luxury in rural solitude. One company has made a mission of catering to precisely those people who want to escape stressful city living and be alone somewhere in the woods of a modern-day Walden at the drop of a hat (or at least the lowering of a crane).
However, there is more than the Swedish firm Arvesund than simply escapism: they have developed a line of prefabricated barns and sheds that work for anything from the most traditional purposes (backyard storage spaces, hunting cabins or workshops) to creative contemporary uses (small garden studios, guest quarters or even second homes).
Each smaller shed or full-sized barn structure can be ordered fully-equipped with furniture, furnishings and fixtures or stripped bare and devoid of even insulation and finish materials, having only essential structural members, walls, doors and windows. Some of them also incorporate pieces of old recycled barns, including heavy timber elements and suitably rustic+modern table-and-chair sets. These ‘barn home’ layouts refer strongly to classic farmstead typologies but the plans are suited to contemporary living.
The current crown jewel of Arvesund design is the Hermit’s Cabin (shown at the top), a prefabricated cabin structure “for all times of the year” and “that can be placed … anywhere. On the mountain, in the field, in the forest, or in your garden.” They come equipped with as many options as a motorhome: wood-burning stuff, custom-designed furniture and surfaces that fit the ‘rustic chic’ aesthetic.
There is no doubt that the small-home and rural-retreat movement is picking up momentum, but with so many designers looking toward the future few have taken such an intelligent view on the past. These structures have learned and applied lessons from simplicity of style and construction, turned them around and popularized them in a way that is both old and new at the same time.