Practicing ‘Cabinology’ All Year Round

From Back to the Cabin, by Dale Mulfinger

I love traveling to new places whenever I can. But I also try to get back to the family cabin up in northern Minnesota once a year, because it’s good for me. Not that it’s great for my waistline, mind you. But after a week spent sitting by a campfire, canoeing, strumming the odd musical instrument, and cooking big communal meals with my family and friends, the stresses of urban life have faded completely. The priorities I try to maintain amidst the many tasks competing for my attention through any given day come slowly into focus, with seemingly no effort on my part.

As you might imagine, returning from the cabin ain’t easy. But I try to maintain that relaxed, yet can-do spirit that reigns over me while I’m there long after returning to the city.

So when my colleague (and fellow Minnesotan) Erica Christoffer brought Dale Mulfinger’s Back to the Cabin: More Inspiration for the Classic American Getaway (Taunton Press, 2013) to my desk, I couldn’t wait to crack it open. The architect and “cabinologist” (and fellow Minnesotan) filled this follow-up to 2003’s The Cabin with more than 240 pages of beautiful photos of cabins of every stripe (from places other than just Minnesota). From ruggedly rustic to light-filled luxury to pronto prefab, Mulfinger provides detailed floor plans and site illustrations that set this book apart from your average “pretty house pictures” book. He manages to talk about the various advantages of building materials and structures, and weighs in on renovations and incorporating accessibility, without drowning the sheer beauty of the subject matter. And since the word “cabin” means different things to different people, I think it’s particularly interesting how Mulfinger gets at the many purposes these individual homes provide for their varied inhabitants.

Back to the Cabin is also available as an e-book, but I think that misses the point. Buy the large, hardcover format because the pictures are so gorgeous, it’ll remind you to head outdoors every time you see it sitting on your coffee table.

In fact, it would be a no-brainer for any real estate professional in a rural or second-home market to position this attractive book somewhere around the office where clients could page through it. But I posit that it could do just as well in the waiting room of an urban brokerage. Us city folk need to be reminded of the uniquely American obsession that is the cabin. Because it’s good for us.

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]

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  1. Karen "KT" Thomas

    I agree with you regarding pictures books of cabins and the great outdoors reminds us to step away from time to time from our urban routine and embrace the cabin style of living. As you also mentioned, “cabin” means different things to different people.

    I enjoy experiencing “cabin fever” by getting out to Cabin Creekwood in the Shenandoah Valley periodically and also keep a beautiful cabin themed book on my coffee table within easy reach!

    Every aspect of your communication spoke to me . . . thank you!