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Cabin, Cottage or Camp?

What it's called often depends on where it is

By Jennifer Stack
Published: March 1, 2009
Photo by Dale Mulfinger
Nationally, the three most common generic designations for a getaway are: cabin, cottage or camp. Other variations include mountain home, desert home, lake place, lakehome and many others. Which one you use usually depends on where you live – or what your parents called their getaway.

If your home is somewhere in the Maine woods, it would likely be called a camp. But if you put it on a flatbed truck and transplanted it nearly anywhere else along the Atlantic shore, you’d probably describe it as a cottage.

Generally, cabin is the more common term in the western half of the U.S., as well as in mountain locations – whether you’re talking about the Appalachians or the Rockies. Cottage is more likely to be used in the eastern half of the nation.

In the Midwest, both cabin and cottage are common. There you might find that your next-door neighbor calls his place a cottage while you call yours a cabin. 

Dale Mulfinger agrees. As the co-founder of Minneapolis-based SALA Architects and author of “The Cabin,” “The Getaway Home” and “Cabinology,” he hears that juxtaposition all the time. 

“A building situated in, say, northern Wisconsin may be called a cottage if the owner lives in Milwaukee,” says Mulfinger, “but if the owner is from Minneapolis, that same building is called a cabin.” 

But no matter what label you give it, it’s always your home away from home.
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