How to Make a Cabin More Modern

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Why do we love cabins so?  They’re not just a place to call home (or second home), they have a nostalgia about them from our childhoods, storybooks or our imaginations. A place to escape the modern world, whether that’s in the mountains or overlooking the ocean, along the lake or river or nestled into the woods.

Cabins take us back to a simpler way of life that’s about connecting with nature, outdoor adventures and enjoying the little moments.  Life at the cabin invites people to slow down and connect with each other, making memories that last a lifetime.  While the structure might be simple, the atmosphere should radiate warmth and coziness.

Today, rustic old cabins are being updated to reflect a more modern aesthetic that still reads cozy and comfortable but without the bear (or moose) themes we may have seen in our childhood.

But don’t worry if your cabin is stuck in a more rustic than modern vibe.  There are plenty of easy ways to update your cabin to make it more stylish.  Read on for simple and budget friendly ideas to up your cabin style.

Mock up wall interior. Wall art

Lighten Up

Old cabins tend to favor dark colors – like paneling, earthy tones, and dark wood. One common challenge with cabins is the amount of wood used in the interiors. Traditional cabins tend to favor dark wood, rustic floors, and timber beams – which can be charming but also tend to bring a  heavy and outdated feel.   Not quite the vibe for a space that is designed for relaxing and connecting with family and friends.

To lighten up the cabin, start with the foundation –  could walls, cabinets, or the fireplace be brightened up with a coat of white paint.  An easy place to start is by creating a more neutral backdrop on the walls.  Take a cue from Scandi design for a lighter, airier feel throughout the cabin.  Think neutral colors, natural light and airy rooms.

Bright and Airy

Look around at furniture and drapes, swap out heavy drapes or darker colors for sheer linen or cotton drapes.  And if privacy is not an issue, you might forgo window coverings all together for a bright airy look.  Bring in natural light wherever possible.

Slipcovers could be a quick fix to brighten up a darker armchair, sofa, or dining chair.

Open shelving might replace heavy kitchen cabinets for a lighter feel.


If the budget doesn’t allow for new flooring, a light-colored rug in beige, cream, or light grey can lighten the room and make the space feel bigger and more open.

Adding some texture to the floor keeps it modern – think rugs made of natural fibers like jute, sheepskin, wool or cotton for adding some softness and texture.

Play with patterns on the floor as well for updated look – geometric shapes add a modern aesthetic.

Neutral Colors

A neutral color palette goes a long way to brighten up a cabin.  White, cream and grey all provide a neutral backdrop and a more calming effect than bold or dark colors.   If you think of neutral as boring, thinks again.  You can always add pops of color with smaller accessories like throws or pillows. That way your personality can shine through with smaller budget items that can always be swapped out.


There’s nothing like clutter to make a space feel cramped and outdated.  You don’t have to be a complete minimalist, but an open airy room lends itself to a more peaceful relaxed space.  Start by seeing if anything can be repurposed, recycled or stored away to clear space.

Warm minimalism is a style that favors a clean aesthetic but incorporates earthy colors and natural textures to add warmth and coziness.  It might be the perfect modern style for your cabin.

Modern Lighting

Lighting can make or break the cabin atmosphere.  Start with letting natural light in wherever possible.

Adding modern pendants or recessed lighting can completely change a room.  Reading lamps or sconces next to beds are essential for cozying up with a good book.

Don’t forget lighting for outdoor spaces – fairy lights around the outdoor table, uplighting on trees and outdoor candles make the evenings even more special.

Bring the Outside In

Cabin life means connecting with nature and enjoying the great outdoors.  Let your decor be inspired by the cabin’s natural surroundings. Simple decor found in nature -think stone, plants, flowers and branches- all add an organic cozy  feel to the cabin.

Wicker baskets are a nice addition to hold cabin essentials like blankets or extra layers.

Stacking wood can be an art form in the house or outside.


Nothing says modern cabin like wool camp blankets, chunky knits throws or cozy sheepskin rugs.   Add organic textures to the cabin for warmth and coziness.  That’s what modern cabin life is all about after all.

Mix Old and New

Vintage finds or family heirlooms have an honored place in a cabin setting but pair freely with modern accents.  Paring old and new is a great way to honor the cabin’s history in a more modern way.

Try a gallery wall of old black and white family photographs on a picture ledge or displaying Grandma’s china on modern open shelving.  Like any home, your cabin should reflect your own story so display family treasures.

Warm duvet on comfortable bed with rustic headboard with lights


The practice of hygge is nothing new – but its appeal is timeless.  So get hygge with it. Light some candles, cozy up around the fireplace or outdoor fire pit.  Keep a stack of cozy blankets throws on hand and curl up with a good book.

The cabin should be a place you can truly unwind and relax with those you hold most dear.