Design & Style
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Outdoor Living

By Mark R. Johnson
Published: February 17, 2011
There seem to be just two simple things that make cabin living great: The special feeling we get when we escape to our favorite place in the world, and the close connection between our cabin and the outdoors. Here are six different looks that give inspiration for porches, patios and decks – those places that form the bridge between the cabin and the outdoors.
An Amazing Overlook
This timber-frame cabin, overlooking Lake Chatuge, Ga., was built as a weekend retreat for a couple living in Atlanta. Their place was designed so that every room has a view of the lake. This 408-square-foot deck is accessed from the cabin’s great room. The twiggy deck railing balusters are rhododendron branches, while the flooring is flagstone (the color is Tennessee Valley Crab Orchard). To access the lake, a stone path meanders from the cabin’s ground floor down to the dock on the lake.

READER RESOURCE:  Cabin Creek Timber Frames,
(photo courtesy Cabin Creek Timber Frames)
Mountain Living
Just outside Ruidoso, N.M., sits this full-scribe style log home belonging to Steve and Janna Lankford, a Texas couple. On their east-facing front porch, Steve and Janna enjoy the morning’s first cup of coffee while reading their morning devotionals. They also enjoy sitting on the porch playing their guitars and singing, talking with friends, stargazing and watching deer and elk.

• Builder: West Coast Log Homes,
• Log Furniture: Bears R Us, (505) 378-1045.
(photo by Heidi A. Long/Longviews Studios, Inc.)
Hot Tub Haven
Sitting in a hot tub while gazing at the Pacific Ocean. What could be better? This home is located on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia.
If you’re thinking about adding a hot tub to your deck or patio, focus on location. Frequent Cabin Life contributor Fran Sigurdsson shares these tips: “Site the hot tub so you can immerse yourself in the surroundings while you soak. But make sure it’s sheltered from the wind, especially if you’re on a lake or a mountain top. There should be easy access from a family room or a master bedroom. Choosing a sunny spot can save up to 5 percent on electric bills.”

Western Red Cedar Lumber Association,
(photo courtesy Western Red Cedar Lumber Association)
Crazy for Pergolas & Arbors
Pergolas and arbors add shade and visual interest – and are a great way to hang plants! Today, there are easy-to-assemble kits available from sources like, or The deck and arbor shown here were built with western red cedar.

READER RESOURCE: Western Red Cedar Lumber Association, (photo courtesy Western Red Cedar Lumber Association)
Rustic Relaxation
One of the best features of this 1,700-square-foot Georgia log home is the outdoor living room on the 320-square-foot deck which greatly expands the space for relaxing and entertaining. The west-facing deck looks into the woods while giving a view of a water feature, a tumbling waterfall with a pool at the bottom. The bent-willow furniture set, crafted by a furniture maker in Alabama, includes a unique swing. The homeowers, Don and Janice Mahaffey, use their deck for entertaining, relaxing and growing flowers and herbs.

Fireside Log Homes, (photo by F & E Schmidt Photography)    
Warm by the Fire
This outdoor space offers a view of Flathead Lake’s Bigfork Bay in Montana. The tiered design of this patio helps ensure you’re comfy by the fire. On cool mountain nights, sit down close on the fire-warmed stones; but on warmer summer evenings, sit up top in the wicker chairs. The large stones are called “chief cliff,” a local stone from a quarry near Flathead Lake. The wood-burning firepit is reclaimed iron from a rock crusher and it’s set in a patio of brick and sand.

•  Architect: Unique Home Designs.
•  Contractor: Ron Incoronato & Co.
•  Masonry: Flathead Masonry & Tile.
•  Wicker Chairs: Restoration Hardware.
(photo by Heidi A. Long/Longviews Studios, Inc.)
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