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Denspiration – Our Love of Small Spaces

Blogger Natalie Fenwick talks childhood dreams and den building to Carpenter Oak….

Somewhere within us all is an instinctual desire to design and build our own space, individual to our needs and characteristics, a home away from home, an escape, a retreat.  Many of us carry this desire with us into adulthood our wants and needs for this space evolving as we grow.  The Carpenter Oak sister company Life Space Cabins and its founder Jamie Wilson recognises this social and cultural opportunity.

“We are excited by smaller spaces and the opportunity that Permitted Development has brought.  It means that we can really unleash our creativity and architectural talent to promote truly unique and playful spaces.”  Jamie Wilson, Life Space Cabins

As a child I used to love making dens, under the dining table or clothes dryer, in the back garden under a tree or bush.  Any small space was inspiration to build a place I could recognise as my own.  An area for solitude whenever the mood took me, a home to share with my teddies, fairies, dog and my most trusted of friends.

Building your own den and space | Life Space Cabins

Building your own den and space | Life Space Cabins

I watch my children repeat this process, my 8 year old patiently sawing wood and hammering in nails to make a treehouse, an ever developing project abandoned and returned to at his whim.  My 3 year old hiding under a duvet or building a home out of the sofa cushions with the help from her brother.  Den building is one of their favourite pastimes, be it alone or working as a team.

Having spent time in my early twenties living in a van I can empathise with those looking for an escape, a place to experience a more simplistic lifestyle, a hideaway from life’s consumer culture, a more ecological way of existing.  In the past, some of the more eccentric of us designed and built small, ecological, sustainable spaces to live.  Fulfilling a desire to have less of an impact on the planet, to be ‘off grid.’  Working alone and in communities, these people realised their instinctual dreams.   Designs varied, being built with a range of natural and salvaged materials.  Often eccentric in their design and more suited to dryer, predictable climates, few of us could imagine living in a similar space in the UK.

Oak Frame Cabin External image in garden or field | Life Space Cabins

However, some of the structures born out of this movement represented a more traditional cabin or tiny house structure that more of us are akin to.  With social media documenting the recent tiny house movement in America now migrating to the UK as cabin culture, more of us are looking to fulfil   the aforementioned instinctual desires.

The tiny house movement has grown from a desire to own an affordable, practical property. With ever increasing house prices and housing shortages, these small, often simplistic looking buildings offer accomplished design and architecture at the fraction of the cost of a traditional building.  In some cases, you don’t even need planning to build your own beautiful, functional space.  For more information on planning you can refer to the Planning Portal.

Cabin living lends itself to sustainable building.  Often constructed from natural materials, predominantly durable wood such as oak, they mirror the natural world evoking the spiritual desire for more minimalistic and ecological living.  They provide an eco-alternative to traditional building methods and are flexible, even transient in their design.

Carpenter Oak client Vickie Ward built a sustainable cabin before embarking on an oak frame off grid home.  The cabin eventually became part of Vickie’s home but she was able to live in it whilst carrying out the works. Read more about her cabin and house build here 

“For us as first time self-builders, having  a small scale building to ‘learn the ropes’ has worked really well. The Cabin has allowed us to see the entire cycle of building a house on a small scale. Plus we get to have the fun and pleasure of living in a Carpenter Oak framed cabin designed by Roderick James Architects. No frustrating wait required! Will we be in by Christmas? Doesn’t matter! We’re here already!”  Vicki Ward, Cabin owner

For more information about Life Space Cabins read the About Us page and follow our Cabin Fever Blog posts and Pinterest boards to find out what continually inspires us to create playful small spaces.

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