Big Sur Cabin Style
Cabin Life Left Header Ad

Cabin Style Study: Big Sur

Here's what makes this stretch of California's coast so captivating. Plus, how to incorporate some of the same enchanting elements into your own cabin.

Written by Karen Marley
 Photo by Thomas Ciszewski / Unsplash


It’s said that magic happens at the edges. Along roughly 90 miles of pristine Central California coastline the fringes of many worlds come together – rugged mountains, redwood forests, dry chaparral, and, of course, the Pacific’s churning waves. 

Welcome to Big Sur.

Salty air, scrubbed clean from the Pacific, mingles with wildflowers and the spicy notes of the redwood forests. Waterfalls highlight ragged, plunging cliffs. Go upstream into the Santa Lucia mountains and discover deep, freshwater emerald pools along parched, chaparral zones. There are hot springs, tidepools, surfing, stargazing, quirky small communities and award-winning culinary delights. Offshore, kelp forests hide ocean dwellers – otters, seals, shoals of fish, pods of migrating gray whales and great white sharks. High above, gigantic California condors soar across the sky.


Its Own Groove

As you’d expect from such a mystical environment, Big Sur’s style and culture has always been a little off beat and its cabin styles are a testament to its quirky and artistic nature. Ranging from eccentric to sleek, they carry bohemian roots brushed with a rugged ocean vibe and a sense of permanence that is, somehow, both refined and eclectic. 

Key elements include massive windows and glass walls to connect indoor and outdoor worlds. Wood is used abundantly but presented with clean lines and symmetry. Decks are graceful extensions of living space and may include an outdoor shower. Fireplaces keep things cozy on chilly, foggy days. Look for iron details in the form of posts, beams, fences and gates.

Décor in the spirit of Big Sur keeps you grounded to a sense of place. Think beach glass, river and beach stones, redwood slabs, and the sculptural lines of silvery-gray driftwood. Organic textures, materials and shapes add calming elements.


Bring It Home

Want to capture some of Big Sur’s magic for your cabin? The following finds are just the fix:


Experience It

Ready to be enchanted? With cabin names like “Cliff,” “Ocean,” “Tree” and “Butterfly” the Post Ranch Inn offers an assortment of luxury cabins that immerse you in the Big Sur experience. Whether you end up in a treehouse or a space that feels as if it’s soaring off a cliff into the ocean below, you’ll find nothing but jaw-dropping beauty. If the forest experience is more your style, check out Glen Oaks of Big Sur, which offers up a variety of charming redwood cabins. Follow along with Instagram accounts like @vincentshayphotography, @bigsurcalifornia, @postranchinn, and @highway1discoveryroute for a daily dose of inspiration.


Land Matters

Big Sur is home to the Esselen Tribe, which claims 6,000 years of cultural and historical roots to the region before being forcibly removed 250 years ago and moved into California’s Missions. In 2020, the tribe was finally able to secure land in Big Sur, formerly known as Adler Ranch, to continue their ceremonies and culture. The tribe plans to host educational events open to the public so check for updates.

Editor's Picks

All products featured are carefully reviewed and selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Subscribe Now + Get 2 Free Gifts!