Cabin Colors: Decorating with Nature’s Palette

Living in a cabin is a wonderful way to escape urban sprawl, but you don't have to be a rube about it. So what colors should you paint or stain your cabin?

By Teri Olcott

 

Most cabins are nestled in the woods or sit on the shore of a tranquil lake. Unlike a house in the city, the colors you chose for the exterior and interior of your cabin should match your surroundings. You want your cabin to blend in, not stand out. You’ll also want to select colors that reflect your interests and make you feel comfortable. If you have just purchased a cabin or are thinking or remodeling one, the following guidelines should help you decide on interior and exterior cabin color schemes.

 

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The Exterior

Log Cabins

The materials used to construct your cabin plays a large part in the exterior cabin colors. A log cabin, whether made from actual logs or just log-sided for a log cabin look, is best left somewhat natural. This doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the color of bare logs or that it has to be brown. There are plenty of log home exterior stain colors that can change the color without detracting from the overall log cabin look. Gray stains can give the logs a weathered appearance that makes the cabin look as if it has been part of the landscape for many years. An orange tint might help the cabin blend in with carpets of fallen pine needles. Tan and golden colors are the most popular and can range from solid to semi-translucent so you can still see the wonderful grain of your logs. The trim on your cabin is where you can be a little more creative. You can go darker or lighter or even use a contrasting color around doors and windows, on shutters, porch railings, and decks. Just remember that changing the color of logs is kind of permanent. Unlike paint, stain is absorbed into the wood and hard to change if you later decide you don’t like the color.

 

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Traditionally-Sided Cabins

Not all cabins are made of logs. Most are of wood construction, but the siding can be pre-colored vinyl, aluminum, or any type of wood siding designed to be painted. You will still want to choose colors that help the cabin become one with its surroundings. A cabin in the woods might look best in shades of brown, dark green, gray, or rustic reds. A cabin near water can be blue, green, or any calming color found in nature. Trim and doors can be painted in matching or contrasting colors. The idea is to become part of the scenery, not clash with it.

 

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If your cabin is located in a lake or a neighborhood with a homeowners' association (HOA), you may be limited to the exterior colors you can choose.

 

The Interior

When it comes to decorating the interior of your retreat, your color choices are not as limited, but you will still want to incorporate nature’s soothing color palette as much as possible.

 

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Hunting Cabins

 A hunting cabin is designed to be an inviting and cozy space that you return to after a day in the chilly wilderness. The interior of hunting cabins are usually rustic and accessorized with simple, yet comfortable furniture. Walls may be wood paneled, or drywall finished. If a true log cabin, as opposed to a log sided cabin, the interior will probably match the exterior. The interior walls may be left natural and painted with a sealer to prevent moisture and insect damage. The walls can also be stained dark or light for a warmer feel. Rooms tend to be small, but can be cozy when decorated with curtains, rugs, and furniture in shades of red, black, brown, and green. Couches and living room chairs should be large and all about comfort. Many hunting cabins have a small fireplace or woodstove which you can prop your tired feet up in front of and enjoy the evening. Plaid is another great color for hunting cabins and can be used in the form of blankets, tablecloths, and throw pillows.

 

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Of course, no hunting cabin is complete without a large game head on the wall.

 

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Fishing Cabins

A fishing cabin is very similar to a hunting cabin but usually located on or near a lake. Fishing cabins are for those who love to fish (obviously), and the interior decorations should reflect this. Interior colors can be water-themed: blues, greens, and teals. Decorations should be fishing and boat related. Because fishing is more of a warm-weather sport, interior colors can be a bit brighter and cheerier. Splashes of yellow, bright green, and even white can help enhance a sunny day. Area rugs and bright colored pillows and furniture throws will add energy to the overall theme. The love of the outdoors is the look you’re trying for.

 

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Full-time or Part-Time Residence

Because cabins tend to be rural, small, and rustic, they are often too inconvenient to be a full-time residence for a busy family. Single and older retired people may find them to be perfect. Most cabins are only one story but some may still feature a second-floor open loft for sleeping quarters. Some people use a cabin in the mountains or woods as a summer home or vacation getaway. These types of cabins tend to be more modern with insulated walls and windows, wood stoves, and full-size appliances. Interiors of these cabins are more like regular houses and less rustic than a hunting or fishing cabin. The goal is to still be a part of nature, and interior colors should be all about bringing that nature inside. This isn’t to say that you can’t add some clashing colors in the form of artwork, linens, pillows, and small decorative items. You want your home to be inviting and a reflection of your personal taste, even if you only spend the summer in it.

 

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The most important part of having a cabin is making it a space you enjoy. Have fun with your cabin color choices. Nature has given you a wonderful color palette to work from.

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of Teri Olcott and www.shutterstock.com

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