Minnesota Charm: How to Design Your Dream Cabin Kitchen

by | Apr 23, 2024 | Cabins, Kitchen Design and Remodeling | 0 comments

Here in Minnesota, we love heading ‘up-north’ to our cabins or second homes for relaxation, creating memories and connecting with family and friends. As a place to escape our day-to-day lives, we often have different approaches in terms of the design and use of our second homes. The kitchen is no exception.

Remodeling a cabin kitchen in Minnesota presents a unique opportunity to blend functionality with rustic charm, creating a warm and inviting space that stands up to the rigors of all seasons. A successful cabin kitchen remodel focuses on durable materials that withstand temperature fluctuations, efficient appliances to manage energy usage, and ample storage for extended stays. Incorporating local aesthetics and ensuring a layout that maximizes both indoor and outdoor interactions can transform these kitchens into perfect spaces for family gatherings and culinary adventures.

A close up view of custom cabinetry built into a Minnesota cabin kitchen remodel.

Following are 10 considerations when designing or remodeling your cabin kitchen:

  1. Weather-Resistant Materials: An important consideration is whether the cabin will be a 4-season or 3-season cabin. If your cabin will be closed for the winter, and therefore not heated, it’s critical to take this into consideration when selecting your cabinet and countertop materials. The materials need to be able to withstand the cold and the slow change of temperature as it warms in the spring. The same is true if the cabin does not have air conditioning. Moisture and humidity do not work well with wood cabinets or wood countertops. The kitchen should use materials, for example, that can withstand Minnesota’s drastic temperature changes and humidity levels. Granite countertops, stainless steel fixtures, and treated wood cabinetry are good choices due to their resistance to warping, rust, and mold growth. These materials will endure the cabin’s unheated periods during the off-season and will remain in good condition year after year.
  2. Storage Solutions: Ample storage is key to keeping a cabin kitchen organized, decluttered and functional, especially when entertaining family and guests. Include deep drawers for pots and pans, vertical storage for cutting boards and baking trays, and a dedicated pantry for dry goods. Lockable cabinets or a storage room can safeguard alcoholic beverages and expensive or perishable items when the cabin is unoccupied.
  3. Energy Efficiency: Opting for appliances with high energy efficiency ratings, like ENERGY STAR-certified refrigerators and dishwashers, can significantly reduce electricity use and costs. Also, consider installing well-insulated windows and LED lighting to further decrease energy consumption. This is not only cost-effective but also environmentally responsible, reducing the cabin’s carbon footprint.
  4. Comfortable Dining Area: The dining area should be a focal point where guests can gather comfortably. Consider a sturdy wooden dining table that complements the rustic cabin aesthetic, surrounded by durable chairs that can handle wear and tear. For versatility, add a bar or island with stools for additional seating, perfect for breakfasts or quick snacks.
  5. Easy-to-Clean Surfaces: Surfaces in the cabin kitchen should be chosen not just for their appearance but for their ease of maintenance. Porcelain tiles or luxury vinyl for flooring are resistant to stains and moisture, ideal for a lakeside setting. Quartz or laminated countertops provide a non-porous surface that is easy to wipe down and disinfect.
  6. Adequate Lighting: Plan for a combination of fixtures—recessed lighting for general illumination, pendant lights over the island or dining table for focused task lighting, and under-cabinet lighting to brighten work surfaces. Also, consider the installation of dimmer switches to adjust lighting moods during different times of the day or for different activities.
  7. Style and Aesthetics: Embrace local materials and craftsmanship to give the kitchen a sense of place. For many, a cabin offers a unique opportunity to step outside of the style you have in your home. Use reclaimed wood from local sources for cabinetry or shelving and incorporate elements like stone or pebbles from the surrounding area into the décor. Decorative accents such as antlers, fishing-themed art, or native American textiles can integrate local culture and history into the design.
  8. Heating Options: A wood stove or fireplace in the kitchen not only provides heat but can also serve as a cooking source for boiling water or simmering stews, adding to the rustic cabin experience. Ensure the installation includes proper venting systems to maintain indoor air quality and safety.
  9. Ventilation: Install a high-capacity range hood to remove cooking odors and excess heat. Consider windows or a skylight that can be opened to allow fresh air to circulate and help control moisture levels inside the kitchen, which are particularly important in humid summer months.
  10. Outdoor Access: If the kitchen layout allows, a door leading directly to an outdoor deck or patio can extend the living and entertainment space. This setup is perfect for hosting summer barbecues or enjoying breakfasts with a view of the lake. Ensure the transition area includes durable flooring and weatherproof door materials to withstand frequent foot traffic and outdoor conditions.

Building a new cabin or remodeling your existing cabin kitchen? At Sawhill, we’ve helped numerous clients with full kitchen design and remodeling and understand how your use of the space impacts the design. We can design and build a cabin kitchen that functions as beautifully as it looks. Contact us for a free consultation.