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Building Our Own Woodland Cabin

In 2017 Martin and Ness Turner decided to shake their lives up a little. They sold their busy cafe in the centre of Totnes, Devon and having already bought a piece of their own woodland they decided to build a small cabin there.

This cabin would become a place to escape to, away from the stress of everyday life.

Essentially to act as a large garden for their ever growing boys they had been visiting the woodland throughout the seasons getting to know its every nook and cranny.  The woods are douglas fir and sweet chestnut with some really big oak and beech trees on the perimeter.  

Martin says “We had spent almost four years watching the seasons and wandering where would be the best place to build the cabin.  Throughout the year we took into consideration wind direction, when the sun hits certain spots during the day, rainfall and how it flows over the land, where animals walk, nest and burrow, thinning of trees to achieve to allow the carpet of the woodland to flourish again and is there a view we could make the most out of?”

Having chosen the perfect spot the family now embarked on designing the cabin itself. They asked themselves lots of questions.  What will the cabin look like? What do they want from the cabin? How and who will use it? Should it be insulated? Do we want an outdoor covered space? Do we need planning? How will it age and settle into its environment?  How long do they want it to last?

The family have designed a 5×5 m2 space,  with a 5×2 covered veranda where they could read, whittle, chat, and dangle our feet over the edge whilst taking in the view over the fields afar and listening to the flowing stream and the wind in the trees. Internally they wanted to keep it simple, after all it is in the middle of a wood and they have two dogs and two children.  This is not Egyptian cotton sheets, it’s muddy boots and bonfires!

The cabin is made from locally sourced horizontal larch cladding, it is fully insulated with double glazed windows and doors. They also have a wood burner for those cold winter days.  The windows came free from a friend who was taking them out of a local house and the doors were secondhand. The uprights that support the roof on the front veranda are sweet chestnut from the wood that Martin felled with a friend and stripped back with his son.  Due to the majority of the woods being on a slope they had a mini digger take out some of the bank to allow the cabin to sit back a little and the front not to have too large of a drop off from the veranda.

“Now we have it we want to enjoy it, there will always be jobs to do in and around the woods, but we just have to remember to stop sometimes and take it all in. 

We are custodians of this little bit of England. Our intention is that it will stay in the family for many generations for them to come for them to enjoy”

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