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How To Create A Small Cabin With Big Space – The Frontier Cabin Project!

One of the most exciting projects at our new farm is the building of our Frontier cabin – and even though it has just 524 square feet of living space, you might be surprised at how this small cabin has everything you need to live big!

When we were designing the layout of the new farm, there were several “must-haves” on the list. For starters, there had to be a great space to create our trial and test gardens. There also needed to be a spot for compost bins, honeybee hives, a chicken coop and our rain water tanks.

But in addition to the garden areas, we also wanted to create a small cabin tucked away remotely somewhere on the property. One where friends, family and visitors could stay overnight, and really feel a part of the farm. Although it needed to be smaller, it was important for us to make sure the space would showcase that living small can still mean living large.

small house with big space - frontier cabin
The model of the Frontier cabin under construction on the lot of Weaver Barns. The cabin may be small in size, but the interior feels big and spacious. Even better, it has all of the comforts of a bigger house without all of the wasted space!

It is not a tiny home in the least. Nor is it meant to be. In fact, I think the best name of all for it might be the Reasonable Home. After all, in a tiny home – can you really live for very long in 100 square feet with a ladder to your bunk bed and a hot plate as your kitchen?

Small Can Be Large – Creating A Small Cabin With Big Space

When it comes right down to it, you don’t need a massive floor plan to have a home feel spacious. We learned that when we built our original Simple House at our first farm back in 2016. (See : The Simple House Project)

At 1054 square feet, it may have been small in square footage, but it always felt large inside. With an open floor plan and an eye toward using every bit of space to the max, it was a great way for us to have everything we needed, but at far less cost. And even better, with far less long-term maintenance too!

So when it came time to create a little cabin on our new farm, we wanted to showcase exactly that concept. That you can build small while still including all of the comforts of a full-size home. Not a tiny home in the least, but instead, a reasonably spaced home that can be lived in comfortably for a weekend, or for a year.

main area - frontier cabin
With glass front and rear doors and a wall of windows in the main room, the first floor has a wide open feel.

And that is exactly how the Frontier cabin project was born. Well, with that idea in mind and a visit to Weaver Barns! We were actually at Weaver Barns working on the design for our farm’s house when we noticed a small little cabin under construction on their demo lot.

The minute we went through it, we knew with a few modifications – we had found the perfect guest cabin for the farm! Here is a look at the cabin inside and out, including the floor plan and amenities:

The Frontier Cabin – A Small Cabin With Big Space

Foundation / Floor

For our foundation, we will be using a block exterior and pouring a concrete pad. The pad will have radiant floor heat throughout, which will heat the entire cabin both comfortably, and economically.

But even more, that concrete pad will also serve as the final floor. We will have it scored with saw cuts into 2′ x 2′ sections. Then, we will acid stain the concrete to look like marble tiles. This is something we did in our Simple House, and it worked like a charm! It looks great, and is extremely durable.

Frontier - Main Floor Plan
The main floor plan of the cabin. Having a front and back door allows for easy movement to the porch or patio. We also like having the large open space of the main room to keep guests from feeling closed in.

The radiant heat provides incredibly comfortable warmth, and not having to put a floor in saves big on the construction budget. It also makes keeping it all clean a breeze. For air conditioning, we will use a split A/C unit, meaning there will be no duct work at all in the house.

The Perfect Floor Plan – A Small Cabin With Big Space

One of the things that can really make a space feel big is the height of the ceiling. We learned that when building our first home. Small ceilings can make a small room seem tiny. But soaring ceilings can have just the opposite effect.

The cabin’s two-story plan sits at a total height of 20 feet. When you walk into the first floor, the 20′ ceiling above gives the space a huge feel. Even though, of course, the entire cabin is only 524 square feet!

That openness is also very helpful with the upstairs loft as well. By having it open to below, the upstairs area feels much larger than it is.

Making The Most Of Available Space

The floor plan of the cabin really makes great use of the available space. It all starts with a full bathroom tucked behind the kitchen and under the stairs. The space is easy to get to with a pocket door.

The pocket door helps conserve on space, eliminating the need for an area for a swinging door. It’s also wonderful to have a full size toilet and a shower in such a small cabin.

The large open interior wall of the main room makes the cabin feel light and airy. The great room opens to the loft upstairs and to the kitchen on the first floor, giving both areas a more spacious feel as well.

The kitchen and living room areas all connect and are open. As for the kitchen, the design call for both a full size refrigerator and larger stove. It is just another way to make the space feel “normal” and large.

Last but not least, we really wanted to have a space for a small washer and dryer. As we travel to a lot of Airbnb’s – it is always such a nice perk to have a washer and dryer. To accomplish this in the plans, we are going to “hide” both in the main area against the wall (see on plans) next to the stairs.

The space backs up against the shower wall, so plumbing is easy to share on the wall. To hide it, we will build a cabinet base around them with doors and a table top cover.

Upstairs – A Small Cabin With Big Space

The upstairs loft area has a large and spacious feel as well. Once again, it helps that it opens to the main room below. But with that said, the railing and size allows the bedroom to sit back a bit, so there is still a lot of privacy from the area down below.

upstairs floor plan - Frontier Project

The upstairs benefits from both side walls being built out, allowing for more usable space than just having single dormers or a slanted roof. Having walls like this allows for larger windows and more light coming inside.

Final Details – Creating A Small Cabin With Big Space

Once built, we will then get to work creating a small back patio to the back door. Creating small areas where people can enjoy a meal or a talk is one of our favorite things to do. We had so many of those spaces on our old farm, and want to do the same here.

We will be sure to update with an article once the cabin is finished. And, of course, post a completed video tour as well. If you would like to check out more details on the Frontier, head over to Weaver Barns here : Weaver Barns Frontier Cabin. Happy Cabin Building! – Jim and Mary.

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