Airbnb, Instagram, and the Rise of the Optimized Cabin

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Airbnb, Instagram, And The Rise Of The Optimized Cabin
© Deborah Degraffenreid

A two-hour drive north of New York City, Hudson Woods is one of those idyllic vacation destinations that city slickers salivate over—its open skies and rolling hills are a far cry from the city’s claustrophobic chaos.

There, architect-turned-developer Drew Lang has built 26 luxury cabins, each with generous picture windows, slick appliances, exposed-beam ceilings, and wood cladding inside and out. They’re modern and beautiful—and they’re virtually identical. In Hudson Woods, Lang has found a way to elegantly combine some of the most elusive wants of home buyers: modern amenities, spaces that feel personal but can still be bought off the shelf, and design that causes serious envy on social media.

As aspirational dwellings go, cabins rank near the top of the list. We’ve romanticized and practically fetishized the idea of building humble rural retreats (ahem, Cabin Porn). But not just anyone—even those with the budget to build one—can buy a cabin. You have to purchase land, hire an architect or construct it yourself, and have the time to tackle a complex and risky project.

With his 131-acre development, Lang is scaling and packaging cabin life the way suburban homebuyers might purchase a tract house. Yet Hudson Woods isn’t exactly Stepford Wives gone country. By incorporating just the right level of customization into the architecture, and working with the idiosyncrasies of the site, Lang is delivering designerati-approved dream homes. Just a couple years after announcing the development in 2015, all but two houses, which average about $1 million dollars depending on customization, have sold. The buyers are interior designers, graphic designers, architects, photographers, and advertising execs, among others—the type of homeowners who usually scoff at developments. […]