Linear Cabin is a Simple Contemporary Retreat Overlooking Lake Bluff

Designed by Johnsen Schmaling Architects, this contemporary cabin can be found among the woods of St. Germain in Wisconsin. It’s been built as a weekend retreat for a family and is set in Northwoods, not far from Lake Bluff.


The project was completed in 2015 and encompasses a total area of 900-square-feet (84-square-meters), spread over 5 distinct sections that make up the cabin as a whole.



Wisconsin is well-known for its cabin architecture and this project attempts to add to its legacy. Here, they’ve gone down the route of a contemporary low-profile design that’s sympathetic to its surroundings. Its simple understated form has lead Johnsen Schmaling Architects to dub the project Linear Cabin.



Emphasis is placed on detailing and quality materials. The dark wood cladding of the exterior is contrasted by the much lighter wood finishes found on the inside. The walls and ceilings are lined with wood, and in some areas, like the living room, the timber joists and OSB sheathing are exposed – there’s an element of “back to basics” here.


The cabin is divvied up into 5 sections that are approximately equal in size. The far right section contains the home’s bedrooms. Following on from this is the living room/dining area which backs onto a galley kitchen. A wood-burning stove is set along the dividing wall of the living room and bedrooms.


The next section contains the entrance and a utility/bathroom. The last two segments of the cabin are dedicated to a sheltered porch and a semi-enclosed room with a set of large patio doors.

From the architects: “The cabin’s discreet material palette is based on regionally sourced materials, including a variety of timber products harvested in Wisconsin’s vast northern forests. The opaque boxes are clad with blackened pine planks, their somber darkness echoing the weathered monochrome of traditional Wisconsin cabins.”

For more cabins check out Summerhouse T, a 431-square-foot cabin set among the Stockholm Archipelago. Or, Simon Steffensen’s tiny cabin that embraces Scandnavian design. See all cabins.

Via ArchDaily
Photos: Johnsen Schmaling

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

  1. With all due respect, what kind of an architect comes up with a rectangular box design that is only a step up from a shipping container? Today, any architect worth their salt should give some thought to how their concept fits with the natural surroundings. Am I alone in getting tired of designs that merelyunderline human’s domination over nature?

  2. a flat roof in a climate where there is great annual snowfall is one of many design problems with this structure. bedrooms far from the bath????? Black particle board floors?????? the debate, the quandry about whether this structure is more ugly than it is dysfunctional. cost of the modifications that would have made this dwelling functional and attractive is miniscule.

  3. Really Michael Montcombroux? I would have thought that the customers requirements is what the architect should follow. And who is to say, given the information we have, that the customer didn’t ask for a flat roofed simple structure?

    And yes, I’d say you were one of the few people who believe, if I interpret correctly, that housing should MIMIC nature.

  4. All a person needs is either concrete blocks or wheels underneath the cabin and you would have a trailer. Paint the walls either white or light colors so as to not depress the individual. Have a bathroom close to the bedrooms so in case you have to use the facilities nighttime, you are able to without tripping over things. Finish the floors, sand and stain and put the finish over so no splinters in bare feet. Have roof built up bit and angled downward and do not have windows from ceiling to floor, a safety issue. built up wall or put 2 to 3 shelf bookcases in front of windows for more privacy and protection. animals and people could see if prey is inside.