Creating a new rural retreat on the Flete Estate in South Devon
The result was two unique spaces perfectly situated above the Erme estuary on the Flete Estate in South Devon.
Outside they have included a built-in deck, complete with wood fired bath and fire pit giving guests a perfect connection with nature.
Cabin Design Brief
- Customisation of one Dart and one Tamar cabin to be used as luxury holiday let units for ‘glamping’ accommodation.
- Year round accommodation.
- Prefabricated and brought to site in one day.
- Can be classed as a ‘Caravan’
- Maximise on the far reaching views of Dartmoor and the Erme estuary through large picture windows
- Comfortable space for up to 4 people in each cabin.
- Include a bothy style bed, mezzanine sleep deck, small shower room, kitchen, bespoke handcrafted joinery using UK sourced ash timber.
- Hotel in the counytryside luxuries inside the cabin
- Guest experience at the forefront of the offering
- Outside we’ve included elements to ensure the rental offers a point of difference. Bath tub and hammocks.
- Consideration between the relationship between the two cabins in the field.
Stay at Rusty Sheds
photo credit: Beth Squire Photography
In Northamptonshire is 95 acres of WW2 US airfield, slowly returning to its natural state through a process of rewilding.
Findlay Broadbent and his wife, Joanna, jumped at the chance to buy the site in 2017. They were inspired by a passionate desire to preserve its diverse ecology and wildlife as the airfield holds a very special place in Findlay’s heart. His parents’ home is actually located on the site so he spent his childhood playing in the woods and meadows within it. Findlay and his young family live just a mile down the road and run a local fruit farm.
The Wilding Airfield is abundant with different habitats; wildflowers; butterflies; woodland and grassy open spaces. When they bought the site, the Broadbents knew that in order to preserve it as a haven for wildlife, they needed to fund its ongoing management. After a lot of careful consideration, they decided to construct two holiday lets on the airfield – a luxury glamping treehouse and a large holiday let cabin.
Cabin Design Brief
Fin wanted premium cabins that had a minimal impact on the natural environment. He says: “We were certain that we wanted the opposite of churned out, generic glamping pods. The holiday lets had to be low density and exceptional quality. Preservation and appreciation of the airfield was key”
The income from the holiday would fund the maintenance of the site but the couple also wanted to promote an appreciation of rewilding initiatives, British Wildlife and outdoor living. Guests will be wholeheartedly welcomed to the airfield, informed about the project and encouraged to roam freely and explore the site. Sharing the beauty of the space is part of the ethos of The Wilding Airfield and one of the reasons the couple only wanted a small number of cabins.
Why Life Space Cabins?
We first met Fin and Joanna at The Farm Business Innovation Show. They were searching for ideas and inspiration and felt an immediate connection when they met our founder, Jamie Wilson.
They loved his passion for playful small spaces and his innate understanding of their ethos and what they wanted to achieve.
The Broadbents loved our designs, our flexible, creative attitude and likeminded approach to sustainable building practices.
An exciting partnership was quickly established.
After initially getting planning permission approved for three cabins, Fin and Joanna eventually decided to focus on quality and go for two beautiful, high-spec holiday lets.
They were open minded about design, wanting something low-impact that would feel like part of the landscape and celebrate the natural environment. Above all, they wanted something one-of-a-kind for such a special place.
We brainstormed a lot of ideas together and settled on two very different cabin types, so that guests could choose between two unique and memorable experiences. Both would be exceptionally well-designed small spaces, offering an outdoor experience but with the capacity for year-round use thanks to high levels of insulation. The different seasons are magical to witness at the airfield, offering changing colours, variations in wildlife and amazing views.
A Luxury Glamping Treehouse
The first holiday let that we designed became known as “Two Pines” – a spectacular black-clad, luxury treehouse, nestled in the canopy amongst pine and mature hawthorn trees. Double height, with huge glass windows, it has far-reaching views over a beautiful wildflower meadow and beyond.
Designed as a romantic getaway for couples, the sleeping area is on the upper level of the treehouse and the floor to roof windows make the sky feel like part of the space – stargazing at night-time is magical.
Outside is a luxury copper bath on a wooden deck, and a firepit for outdoor cooking. Guests might hear nightingales and turtle doves singing as they roast your marshmallows.
Inside is a log burner, cosy seating area, internal bathroom with shower and full kitchen facilities. It may be a glamping treehouse but it’s a high-end guest experience with top spec fixtures and fittings.
A bespoke design we built Two Pines in our Devon workshop and delivered it to The Wilding Airfield in two pieces which were bolted together on site and installed on the steel framework among the trees.
A large holiday let cabin
The second cabin is “Birch View” – our classic A-frame Tamar design, providing a completely different experience for guests. With a larger, more sociable vibe, this spacious cabin with a vaulted roof can accommodate up to four people- suiting a group of four or a family.
Clad in larch timber that will naturally silver, Birch View is located in an open, grassy area overlooking birch trees, with a luxurious hot tub outside. It has a vaulted ceiling and corrugated roof.
There is a sleeping area on the mezzanine level and a second sectioned off sleeping area underneath,
as well as a sofa bed. It has an internal bathroom with shower and full kitchen facilities.
We delivered Birch View in one piece and quickly installed it on The Wilding Airfield with our enthusiastic Cabin Creator team. We used ground screws for the foundations for minimal disruption to the earth on the site.
“We want to provide timeless experiences that let people relax in nature and escape from the day to day humdrum.”Fin and Joanna Broadbent
Stay at The Wilding Airfield
“Two Pines” treehouse and “Birch View” cabin are 150m apart from each other, not overlooked and feel totally private.
During your stay, you’ll find plenty to discover in the rolling hills of East Northamptonshire. The area is a charming hidden gem, easily accessible from London and Birmingham. In easy reach of The Wilding Airfield are beautiful ancient market towns; country walks; paddle boarding on the River Nene; National Trust properties; Saturday morning markets and Burghley House stately home.
The Wilding Airfield cabins are currently running at 98% occupancy during the first two seasons.
Photos by @beasquire
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An A Frame Cabin Design Project
Creating a new rural retreat offering for North Yorkshire.
Designed by Life Space Cabins and handcrafted on site by the clients own construction team in Yorkshire, this A-Frame cabin design was a design brief that required a simple pared back aesthetic that would allow expansive glass to frame the uninterrupted views of the North Yorkshire countryside.
The result was two unique spaces perfectly situated in their own wildflower meadow.
Outside they have included a built-in deck, complete with sunken bath and fire pit giving guests an unrivalled feeling of being in nature.
Cabin Design Brief
- Create one design suitable for 4 units for ‘glamping’ accommodation.
- Maximise on the far reaching views.
- Comfortable space for two people to share.
- Include space for one king size bed.
- Consider the relationship between the cabin and the existing buildings and future wedding/ event hire.
- The cabins should be based on the A frame design, with ideally a bed on a mezzanine, a small kitchen with breakfast bar, open plan living area with log burner and a shower room.
- Black exterior cladding – ref timber cladding.
Stay at West Cawthorne https://www.northyorkshirehideaways.com/
Photos by Yorkshire Property Photography David Critchley
A rural escape with all the luxuries of a hotel room.
Nestled in the Blackdown Hills in East Devon you’ll find a couple making a huge success from what was a run down farmhouse and old milking shed.
Katie and Mark Hollyer run a successful catering business Milkshed Catering and in 2014 converted an old milk shed into self contained accommodation and thus Milkshed Holidays was formed.
In 2022 with the staycation market having a boom they decided they wanted to expand their holiday rental offering and commissioned us to build them one of our Dart cabins; aptly named the Hideaway.
Working with the couple and their keen eye for detail, Life Space Cabins designed and built them a unique Dart Cabin that would suit a couple looking for a rural escape with all the luxuries of a hotel room.
- Sleep 2.
- Cabin delivered to site in one day.
- Open plan living and kitchen space painted T&G timber walls in subtle calming colours.
- Bathroom finished using Mandarin Stone porcelain tiles and black fittings.
- Hand built kitchen cupboard doors and zinc worktop.
- Large bifold doors.
- Bothy style bed.
- Large picture window by the bothy bed so guests could enjoy the natural pond, meadows and views beyond.
Slow and Steady Delivery
Invariably our cabins will be located in beautiful locations. This calls for careful planning to ensure we deliver the cabin to its final location.
Slow and Steady was the motto of the day one late April day when we delivered the Dart Hideaway. The haulage team carefully drove the cabin through narrow Devon lanes (anyone ever seen how high a Devon hedgerow can be?!) and lifted it into place onto its groundscrew foundation.
“It was exciting to watch (though nerve wracking!) and a positive experience” Katie Hollyer
The result is beautiful. Stay at the Hideaway
“The cabin is proving very popular and getting wonderful feedback. We are delighted with how it looks and feels and very proud of it” Katie Hollyer
Completed cabin photos by Commotion Media
Installation photos by Kel Edge
This Tamar Cabin was built in our workshop in South Devon and delivered to site in one day
Thames based clients Angela and Neil came across Life Space Cabins after seeing our feature in The Times Bricks & Mortar article and decided that our Tamar cabin design would fit their brief to provide a bright, well built summer house garden cabin that could be used year round.
They had one important request… It had to be completed and installed in time for Angela’s important birthday celebrations.
The Tamar is a classic A frame cabin with its high ceilings and painted timber clad interior it lends itself perfectly as an outside dining space as these clients were to use it for. They could throw open the doors on a balmy evening or retreat inside during the cooler months.
A cabin to be placed in the top corner of our garden which has open views onto farmland and the sunset each day which we would like to be able to enjoy particularly in the Summer. They envisaged opening the doors from the cabin onto decking where they would be able to sit with an evening sundowner drink. Inside the cabin they wanted a multi functional space to use for creative pursuits, dining and maybe some potting of plants.
Their Tamar Cabin was built in our workshop in South Devon and delivered to site in one day.
Painted in Farrow and Ball Winborne White inside with an engineered oak floor the cabin meant it was a welcoming space from day one. The clients wanted exterior cladding to be painted in an elegant french grey colour to complement their surroundings.
Our Tamar Cabin and Dart Cabin designs offer clients the choice of a predesigned cabin which has had all the thinking behind its design and construction and therefore the only variation comes in the site location and client specifications.
These cabins are manufactured off site in our workshop in South Devon and assuming the site can be accessed by a low bed HIAB truck we can install these cabins in just a day minimising onsite disruption and additional labour costs.
An architecturally designed contemporary cabin
From the outset, Life Space Cabins decided we didn’t want to do boring.
We wanted to work on fun projects with people who have project ideas that call for dynamic and playful thinking.
This contemporary cabin is a striking example of this ambition. Our clients were open to ideas and with their own appreciation of good design and architecture we knew we would create something special.
The result was a low-profile modern pavilion with plenty of glass, a veranda and cantilevered flat sedum roof supported on a steel frame.
When we first met the clients their brief was to design and build a cabin summer house which offered not only extra space for the busy times when wider family and friends members descended to this beautiful spot for the summer but allowed for views down to the Cornish creek, garden and the countryside beyond, all year round.
The space would become an asset to the primary dwelling and give pleasure and comfort for many years. The cabin would not require mains services, gas, water, sewerage but require electricity which would be fed from the house or the outbuilding adjacent to the house. The cabin would need to have the ability to be fully closed up with shutters when the owners would be away from the house for any period of time.
At the centre of the design brief Life Space cabins were asked to create;
- A well considered architecturally designed cabin using natural materials.
- A simple, bright white washed timber interior maximising the available light.
- A building where the whole corner can be opened to allow uninterrupted views across the landscape.
- A wide, generous veranda and deep overhanging green roof.
This cantilevered steel frame structure allows the front of the building to be column free. Hence there is a series of folding doors that can open the corner completely to one side and a glass to glass corner with a window seat to the other corner.
The cabin was orientated to capture the countryside views, located on the same spot as the current summer house.
There were sustainability aspirations for the materials, whereby the cabin was designed and constructed using appropriately specific materials and technologies.
Allowing for the cabin to nestle into its surroundings we carefully chose considered natural materials with an architectural edge.
Pre-weathered, square section douglas fir vertical battens fixed between a steel frame which was the basis for the main structure. Similarly the steel frame timber shutters that close off the cabin to any prevailing weather would be top hung and manually operated.
The two end external elevations included random coursed natural slate cladding from Decarock to mirror the vernacular material of slate that Cornwall is so well known for. The sedum roof was fitted by a green roof specialist and included concealed rainwater pipes detailing. Internally the Decarock slate was included on the wide chimney breasts which housed a Contura 810L log burner with slate hearth.
American white ash was chosen for the flooring (fitted in random lengths) and as well as the window seat and for the bespoke hand crafted fitted cupboard all of which complemented the slate and gave an overall sense of a light and airy space.
The existing small summer house building being a single storey, single skin, timber clad structure was simply not fit for purpose. The owners wanted to replace it with something with architectural quality and that would be more keeping with the nature of the site.
The location is in an area of AONB and therefore had special considerations with regards to build timings and the context the new cabin would be sited.
The overall result is an contrasting cabin that elegantly sits between modern architecture and nature.
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A bespoke, luxury cabin on wheels
CARRavan is the first moveable cabin that Life Space Cabins has designed and built. It has been a unique and incredibly exciting project to work on, inspired by nature.
Our client’s enthusiasm was infectious and we got caught up quickly in her vision of creating a cabin that could be moved between various locations on her large Sussex farm.
She wanted to be able to tow the cabin up into the beautiful Downland valley and feel like she was part of the incredible landscape. Glass needed to be an integral part of the design, in order to bring the outside in.
A cabin on wheels would allow her to appreciate every aspect of the surroundings where she lives. Like many people, the pandemic had highlighted the need for a retreat; at home but distinctly separate from the main house. A place to escape, switch off and reset. As well as keep a watchful eye on the farm and sheep. As a writer, this concept of a peaceful sanctuary was particularly important to the client. So much so, that it was decided that CARRavan would be off-grid.
Cabin Design and Build
Together we agreed on a crisp, contemporary design. The client felt inspired by some examples of simple, striking Scandinavian architecture that merge with the landscape. This included the Norwegian restaurant, Under, that appears to have crashed into a lake as well as a unique hotel concept, VIPP Shelter, where the dark toned interior enhances the natural world around it.Our founder, Jamie Wilson shared her excitement for the possibilities of this project and we took the time to explore many creative possibilities, including a bath on the roof! Some elements didn’t work from a practical perspective (roof bath included, due to the weight when full of water…) but others certainly did.
The final design is a steel structure on a hand-built chassis with large double-glazed Aluminium windows and doors. The cabin is clad in angled slatted larch painted in black, reminiscent of the Scandinavian designs she likes so much and giving a clean, modern appearance. A mirror stainless steel on the skirt of the cabin not only hides the chassis but beautifully reflects the surrounding grass.
Why Life Space Cabins?
After a lot of research into different companies, the client was drawn to us after speaking to some of our other customers and seeing the details in our bespoke projects; particularly the drop-down deck on our Woodcutters Refuge cabin.
She loved the creativity and playfulness that we incorporate into our designs and she wanted a superior build quality.
She felt that Life Space Cabins was the ideal company to deliver all of these elements. We completely agree!
The client said: “The design and build process was done during lockdown, which was been quite odd as Jamie had never visited the site and we’ve done it all online and via video calls. However, the communication had been so good that I’ve felt confident and reassured throughout the process. I’ve taken a lot of their advice on board as Life Space Cabins have an excellent sense of design and they certainly go the extra yard for their clients in my experience”
Two drop-down shutters form large decks to sit out on and the shower overlooks a large picture window to take in the ever-changing views. It is furnished with Karup hippo chairs that fold out into beds; it has a bespoke kitchen and bathroom and a top quality Eco Adventurer Log Burning stove for heat and cooking. Two large roof lights provides windows to the sky above and there are solar panels on the roof.
One of our favourite things about CARRavan is the rather chic, vintage grey Fergie tractor that the client uses to tow it around her site! This inspiring moveable cabin is a unique sanctuary in which to relax, take in the views and feel at one with the rolling hills. Anyone inside will feel warm and dry but also like they are truly a part of the landscape. Every considered, bespoke detail of CARRavan adds to its considerable charm and character.
The client summarised her experience by saying: “Jamie and his team spent two days in the valley applying the finishing touches and ensuring that everything works. Their attention to detail is second to none and I cannot thank them enough for both taking on this unique project, and then delivering such a wonderful cabin on wheels which allows us to enjoy the majesty of the downs while keeping an eye on the sheep!”
- Off Grid Cabin
- Kitchen area, fridge, shower and compost toilet
- Exterior: Black painted timber vertical strips of cladding set at an angle for a contemporary design.
- Interior: Black and orange interior created using painted birch ply, and hand built kitchen unit which used Valchromat.
- We created the fun drop down shutters using a combination of winches and pulleys.
- Windows: Double glazed windows and doors allowing light to flow through the space.
- Details: a mirror skirt was fitted around the entire the cabin to hide the lower chassis and reflect the grass.
Off Grid Cabin Facts
- Compost Toilet
- LPG Gas supply
- Solar Panel Electrics
- Leisure battery storage
- Water storage (inc grey water)
Life Space Cabins Services
- Full Design
- Full Construction Detailing
- Full Build and Installation Service
On the left bank of the River Dart in Totnes, Devon lies a row of pretty flint cottages with long front gardens
In one such home with its quintessentially English stone path, well stocked plant beds and roses over arches live a couple who were looking to have a bespoke studio in an area at the bottom of their garden.
The client’s cabin brief had its challenges not least the fact the house is located in a conservation area so would need careful design for planning permission.
Key aspirations included;
- A well proportioned structure that would fit in the narrow cottage garden.
- A small high quality modern building which incorporates natural materials.
- Corner glass to enjoy the hillside views.
- A low energy building, sustainably constructed and well insulated for year round use.
- A well constructed cabin that will last many years.
- Clever use of space to allow flexible use between relaxing and as a work space.
Cabin design and context
The design and its context had never been so fundamental to this brief.
It had to be designed to respect local context and character using natural materials that were high quality and be a space that should be seen as a positive precedence to neighbouring properties which are an assortment of incohesive garden structures.
A simple palette of materials has been chosen for the building which includes full height thermally efficient aluminium framed windows and doors, vertical larch cladding and a black metal roof. Internally the space is lined with plywood timber boards to the walls and ceiling. A punchy pink timber floor was painted which gave the cabin its uniqueness.
Bespoke plywood shelving and desk were added alongside a Hobbit Stove with its quirky blue door and granite hearth (sourced from local Dartmoor granite stone supplier)
The result is a bespoke small, high quality garden multi-use cabin measuring 4.0L x 2.75mW x 3.0mH. It was built in its entirety in our Soiuth Devon workshop and delivered by HIAB lorry and lifted into place in just one morning so that it was being used as a garden home office cabin and relaxing space the very next day.
In fact, we are reliably told that text messages are often sent to the main cottage to ‘order’ a cup of tea or G&T to be brought down so the enjoyment of the space is unbroken!
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A rustic, luxurious barn design for farm diversification in Somerset
Based in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Quantock Hills, our clients wanted to create a unique and stunning holiday let barn, situated on their expansive farmland.
Life Space Cabins founder, Jamie Wilson, met Karen and Simon Walker at The Farm Innovation Business Show. The couple, who come from long-standing farming families, had already converted an existing barn on their land into a successful holiday let. They were keen to draw on their experience to diversify further and create a second rental property. This time, they would build it from scratch, allowing them the freedom to design it exactly as they wanted it.
At the heart of the brief was the guest experience with a focus on achieving a peaceful, private sanctuary and maximising the stunning views over the Somerset levels. The Walkers wanted something rustic, romantic and in keeping with the rural landscape but with architectural design features that would elevate it to something truly special and memorable.
Why Life Space Cabins?
Our Woodcutter’s Refuge project resonated with Karen and Simon due to its sympathetic agricultural-inspired design. They wanted to create something similarly authentic and knew that we understood the subtleties of their brief while being able to bring fresh and innovative ideas to the process.
They had a long-running relationship with a local builder who would construct the barn, so our role was to design it. We decided on the name, ‘The Shepherd’s Linhay’, which seemed fitting as it reflects the simple, spacious farm buildings that are typically found in Somerset and the south-west.
The Shepherd’s Linhay would be situated on the edge of a field, tucked into a dog leg in the hedge. While close to their existing barn conversion, it was vital that the two properties didn’t overlook each other in order to retain privacy for guests.
Our solid, simple, timber-framed design celebrates vernacular farm buildings. The one-storey Linhay would be clad in Western Red Cedar that had recently been felled on the Walker’s farm and planed at the local saw mill. Corrugated tin was used on the gable end and on the roof. A covered veranda supported by oak beams, provides an option to sit outside in all weathers.
We added flair to the design with full height windows at either end of the property to give a view through the building. In the bedroom, a protruding oriel window with a seat creates the wow factor, allowing guests to feel connected to the arable fields beyond. Outside, the wood-fired hot tub is the perfect secluded spot to star gaze on a clear evening or take in the extensive views in the daytime.
Inside, a rustic metal truss is a striking feature in the vaulted roof space and the galvanised steel corrugated tin behind the log burner reflects the light in the room. Pendant lighting in the spacious, open plan living space creates a contemporary sense of grandeur.
We created a bold design for the en-suite shower room in the form of a fully glazed wall that gives far reaching views of the surrounding farmland through the picture window. This idea was inspired by a holiday the clients had taken to the Dominican Republic.
As with all good design, the use of the building was always in the forefront of our minds. In this case, guest comfort and enjoyment were the priorities. The Shepherd’s Linhay is exceptionally well insulated and the acoustic roof lights are triple-glazed and rain sensitive. The Walkers decided to heat the barn using a low-carbon air source heat pump.
The Walkers are delighted with The Shepherd’s Linhay and have already received wonderful feedback from guests who have stayed in it.
Karen Walker says: “From the very beginning we had a brilliant relationship with Life Space Cabins and we were inspired by the passion Jamie clearly had for our project. The team have an incredible flair for design and they came up with some amazing ideas and architectural features. I would recommend Life Space Cabins to anyone looking to create a building with a real difference, for business or personal use”
Stay at The Shepherd’s Linhay
The first guests arrived at The Shepherd’s Linhay in May 2021. The barn, which welcomes dogs, is proving extremely popular. You can find out more and make a booking here
An affordable living space in a beautiful area
Andy a postman living locally to our South Devon offices, was keen to have an independent self contained living space (annexe) located in the grounds of his parents home.
In 2019, having noticed one of our Life Space Cabins vehicles while out on his rounds, Andy got in touch with us to find out more about our cabins and whether we might be able to help him. We discussed how a contemporary cabin could be the ideal solution. It would provide him with the chance to have his own home while remaining in the countryside he loves so much and still in close proximity to his parents. After exploring different options, The Dart was created to give a beautiful contemporary cabin design that would fit within its rural context and a well-proportioned living space that allowed him to have the all important separate sleeping space in the form of a sleep deck mezzanine, a small shower room, a simple birch ply kitchen and ultimately plenty glazing including the end gable to give a light bright space which would focus on the stunning views.
Life Space Cabins founder Jamie Wilson, who worked closely with Andy throughout the design and build says “We had a lot of fun working with Andy on this new design and he too enjoyed the design process. He also liked being able to choose bespoke elements in a way he wouldn’t have been able to if he’d bought a 2-bed new build semi”
The build took place during the very wet winter of 2019 but our Life Space Cabins team cracked on undeterred and completed the cabin in early 2020, just in the nick of time before Covid19 lockdown 2020. The Dart not only became Andy’s haven during this tumultuous year but it has also inspired him to create a stunning garden around it. We’ve loved reading Andy’s texts, telling us how much he was enjoying life in the cabin.
“A big thank you, to all at Life Space Cabins.. I am their Postman… and I am the one person who knows more about them, than them!! So I had no worries about choosing who I would get to build my new home. Built and designed, exactly how I wanted. In summary, if you want to build quality and attention to detail from a reputable trustworthy family business. This is it.. I love it. Thanks again”
– Andrew Gordon