Skillfully using textures to create warmth @ The Winnie Yosemite cabin

Rustic Apr 12, 2021

Imagine: Sitting with a few friends sipping on hot chocolate, tucked under some fuzzy blankets, chatting about the day's hike in Yosemite.

Image sources: The Yosemite A-frame, and The Mt. Rainier River Cabin

Why vary textures?

One design element I find is often overlooked or underestimated, is the use of textures in a room. Textures can mean a variety of things:

  1. The fabric: Leather vs plushy  
  2. Surface textures: Shiny vs. matte
  3. Topography: Smooth vs. uneven
  4. Materials: Organic (wood or plants) vs. manmade (plastics or concrete)

When I think of cabin vibes, the picture I paint in my head is wearing warm socks, holding a hot drink despite already cozy temperatures inside, tired from a day out skiing in the cold, chatting with friends through the dim glow of a fire, and probably snowflakes fluttering outside because no cabin story is complete without snow.

This Yosemite A-frame cabin embodies all of that. I think that's why it immediately draws people in. You look at it and think "yup, that's about how I imagined it", and instantly you're bought in. Now let's break down exactly what they're doing well.

Soft textures where you want to relax

Immediately what stood out to me that this house is doing well, is using textures in a few of the methods listed above.


When it comes to the fabric selection here, looking around the room there are virtually no spots where I couldn't imagine plopping down and cozying up with a book. Some fabrics like leather are good conductors of heat, so they pull the heat from our skin causing it to feel cold regardless of room temperature.

Let's take a closer look at the couch. Alone it might not look and feel the coziest, but that's where the other textures come into play... the soft throw and the fluffy pillows are like a little bit of decoration, jewelry if you will, on the couch to give it a different personality. Looking at the other side of the living room we see the same tactic being deployed. The extremely soft and fluffy chair on the left and wicker chair with throw on the right. Similar to the couch, the wicker chair alone might actually look undesirable, but a little knit throw and much more inviting!

A quick tip on staging:

The laid-back-ness of the thrown blankets and pillows gives off an air of being easy going - that this place is chill and relaxed, and that you don't need to be so stringent, clean, or tidy.  

There are two places I'd play with the fabrics some more in this Airbnb.

  1. The area by the ladder and bathroom entrance
  2. In the lofted bed nook

With our backs to the living area, the kitchen and restroom direction could use some kind of soft texture. Everything feels really smooth and different here. Even something simple like a soft rug securely at the bottom of the ladder, or one at the entrance to the restroom for the moments where warm footing would be really nice.

The second location, in the bed nook, feels like it's just lacking one touch somewhere on the blank walls. One idea is to use string lights along the A-line rather than the lamp. Another is to hang some simple decoration from the top of the ceiling! It can serve to lower the ceiling a bit and add some texture. Wall decorations on the slanted walls could be tricky so this could be a win. Take a look at the version of the bedroom I modified below...not bad!

Artful color scheme threading

This cabin takes advantage of rich deep colors to enhance the space. Rich colors make the space feel more lively and upbeat. The deep colors are soothing and calming. The underlying hues for all the colors here are warm, and our bodies can sense that when we look at it. Together this space feel communal, inviting, and comfortable.

There are two little details in the color scheme this host used that I didn't notice until a few flips around the photos, but when I did, I was floored! Notice that the kitchen perfectly echos the colors of the living room: The green of the accent wall in the green of the cabinetry, and red of the couch in the peach of the dishwasher. Amazing! What a lovely touch that I can only imagine is all the more satisfying standing in the room in person.

My one critique is in the bed nook, to have painted over the exposed pipe. In industrial styled units the exposed pipes and beams are very deliberate but it does not work with the rustic style here. Take a look at the bed nook again if the pipes were camouflaged.

Let's take a look at a comparison cabin

Here's an example of another A-frame cabin, located in Mt. Rainier. It is also single leveled with an open layout living and dining, a lofted bed nook, and even the wood-burning oven. Virtually the exact same layout as our cabin in Yosemite. While it is cozy in its own right, it doesn't have that additional level of both staging and design that has me imagining myself jumping into the setting. Having done real estate photography myself for a while, I intimately understand that photography skill plays a part in conveying the beauty of a place as well. But looking past there, here are a few of the things our Yosemite cabin (right) excels at that the Rainier cabin (left) could improve on.


The two sectionals are nearly identical, differing only in color and the strewn pillows and throws. And notice that the Rainier cabin has two leather arm chairs, which we discussed earlier may contribute to the space intuitively not feeling as cozy. There are also several metal dining chairs, which for the same reasons as leather, are not as warm. Had the host added some faux fur cushions to the chairs it would have been drastically and easily improved!

Bed nook

This may very well be a personal preference, but given the small space of the bed nooks in each of the cabins, the Yosemite cabin leveraged the loft structure better. By facing the bed towards the opened floor, they increase the feeling of spaciousness from the bed, rather than the Rainier cabin, which has the bed facing a wall. Lying in bed with a sloping wall (and nothing visually compelling on it) a few feet in front of you may feel more cramped. Playing devil's advocate, potentially also cozier!

Color scheme

Like we mentioned above, the Yosemite home employs deep rich greens and reds to enhance the space. Without either of these aspects, the Rainier home looks much sleepier in comparison. However, this may absolutely be the preferred environment for some audiences.  


In terms of exterior, I actually think the Rainier cabin comes out ahead. The outdoor patio area is a great touch to be more connected to the surrounding area, and the string lights are a very nice touch.

These are all very small differences, but I think they make big impacts in the end.

All in all, there are many ways to take advantage of varying textures to take the vibe of your home to the next level, whether that's to create a cozy space like a cabin, or something else!

If you like this style... I’ve helped you find some options to replicate it in your own home.


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