‘Escapology: Modern Cabins, Cottages And Retreats’ To Inspire Your Next Getaway

From a massive mountain lodge overlooking a tranquil lake to a contemporary treehouse nestled deep within a Nordic forest, some of us may be longing for the sheer serenity of nature more than ever.

For those of us wishing to make a mad dash from the urban sprawl, interior designers Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan have curated a new book, Escapology: Modern Cabins, Cottages and Retreats. The coffee table book will be published November 17, but with the turbulence we’ve all experienced this year, we may need a much earlier dose of escapism. 

Famous in Scotland and the U.K. for hosting numerous shows, including The Million-Pound Property Experiment, Colin & Justin’s Home Heist and Cabin Pressure, the Toronto-based and Scottish-born design team is now aiming to make a bigger splash in the States with their latest lifestyle hardcover, featuring some of their work as well as that of other architectural firms and design houses.

The coauthors give us a sneak peek at some of the most stunning photography featured in Escapology, which explores the intricate relationship between cabin architecture and interior design. When both are in harmony, it can inspire a new way of life, one that is rooted in beauty and nature—and where one can tune out the noise and truly decompress. Or, at the very least, nab some design tips for wherever one presently calls home.

Airship 002: Drimnin, Highlands, Scotland—designed by Roderick James Architects

The AirShip 002 is in a remote part of Scotland, where it enjoys westerly views of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula and the Atlantic, and easterly views of Mull,” says McAllister. “The faceted aluminum pod is a lightweight and transportable building and would serve as a fascinating prospect for anyone looking to create a remote and eye-catching getaway.”


Cabin at Norderhov: Krokskogen Forest, Norway—designed by Atelier Oslo

A beacon of light in the darkness—the respite’s glow offers a warm, homey welcome with natural illumination focused forward to ensure internal light bleed remains minimal. Says Ryan, “Take it from us: It’s not dark—it’s atmospheric—and then some.  The cabin, for the most part, is assembled from prefabricated elements, a process which makes construction, especially in a difficult-to-reach site, much easier.”


Grey Gardens: Ontario, Canada—designed by Colin McAllister & Justin Ryan

The Scottish designers say this final look was a result of their love for trawling antique barns for items to upcycle. An example of this are the ten-dollar shoe molds which they rooted out at a local market. “Back at our studio, we sanded them, sprayed them black and arranged them in a neat row as towel storage,” says McAllister. “Our maxim? It’s not what you have, but what you do with it that makes the biggest difference. This cabin, whilst admittedly short on square footage, is big on ideas—how to master, for example, the sometimes difficult art of open concept, textures, like that dreamy rolling barn door.” 

Optimal comfort is also a priority for McAllister and Ryan. The red, detailed California king bed in the loft suite is accented by an array of cozily textured beddings, rugs and poufs.


Casa en el Bosque: Santiago, Nuevo León, Mexico—designed by Weyes Estudio

Clever lighting in the bedroom pavilion (from the rear) floods the sleeping area with illumination, while serving as a warming lantern to draw in visitors. From the outside, this architectural planning boasts clear comfort. “It says, ‘Hey, leave your watch in the city, keep the curtains open and awaken with the creatures of the forest,” says McAllister. “Cue long, languid days spent in cosseted warmth and peace.”


Old MacMommy: Elgin, Overberg, South Africa—designed by Scott + Partners

An eclectic mood with minimalist undertones indulges guests at every turn. “A table that serves as an extension of kitchen cabinetry reflects the duality of aesthetics and practicality,” explains Ryan. “The dining function remains close to food preparation, while the elevation’s long lines magnify spatial proportions.” 

The kitchen counter is made from brass, treated with heat to darken its surface and encourage aging—a process that continues with the passage of time.


Vipp Shelter: Lake Immeln, Sweden—designed by Vipp

“Seriously, this one is off the charts,” says McAllister. This minimalist structure is the perfect example of a cabin that melds into its environment. “They say that every picture tells a story,” says Ryan. “Well, we believe that every room should do the same. Here, the tale is about tranquility, proximity to nature and sheer, unadulterated escapism. Especially on days when the skies outside are ominous, perfectly matching the 50 shades of gray contained within . . . ” 


Yellowbell: Jackson, Wyoming—designed by CLB Architects

A white painted cabin is a bold move, but here, it works. “For those brave enough to recolor a traditional log home, the payoff can be spectacular,” says Ryan. The trick, here, was to balance painted surfaces with darker elements such as timber flooring, sculptural occasional tables and contrasting furnishings. 

“The Kravet fabric sofa is positioned to enjoy the fireplace and views to the Tetons beyond,” says McAllister. “This room is a real textural feast—the sofa, carpet, throws and cushions and even the artwork contribute to the layering that makes the space so effortlessly comfortable.”

And as we wrap up a turbulent, unprecedented year, escaping into a state of effortless comfort with Escapology may be something we value more than ever.

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