For this couple, cabin living is a full-time pursuit.

Story & photos by Julie Doyle

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While my cabin is in Tennessee, my cabin dream began in west central Michigan where I grew up. Over time, my family and I visited many friends in our area who lived in their cabins full time.

There were all types of cabins: from a creekside cottage with grand stone fireplaces and large screened porches, to a small rustic cabin where a family friend handcrafted dog sleds. Some had no electricity or plumbing, and water for our hot chocolate was made from melted snow fetched from just outside the door. But no matter the size or variety of décor, each cabin reflected the personalities of our friendly and gracious hosts. They were places where many fine memories were made.

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I was also inspired by a local tourist attraction, the “Shrine of the Pines” (near Baldwin, Mich.). This amazing handcrafted log cabin is furnished with the wondrous creations of one man, Raymond W. Overholzer, over 30 some years of his life. He began working on the cabin and furniture in the early 1920s, and today it stands as a tribute to Michigan’s white pine trees, with 200 pieces of hand-carved furniture.

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While I am now miles and years away from my childhood home, the memories of those North Woods cabins have never left me and have continued to inspire me. During my married life, my husband, Brian, and I have had a few Birdopportunities to vacation in cabins in New England and Montana.

A few years ago, we decided to build a small cabin of our own. I designed our one-bedroom hybrid cabin and constructed it (primarily by myself) from the ground up. It’s about 750 square feet including the loft and sits on a mere 20×26-foot footprint, excluding the front porch.

We’re now working on our landscaping, including flagstone pathways, a new firepit and picnic area, boardwalks and natural, rock-lined garden beds, which feature native flowers – finishing touches for an outdoor space where we enjoy a variety of wildlife and migrating birds.

Our cozy cabin in the woods, which we dubbed, “The Old Bear’s Den,” is a place where happy memories with family and friends continue.