Christmas at The Cabin 2020

I'm so excited to be Stop Number 29 on The Holiday Housewalk 2020! 

If you're here from Clean and Scentsible, welcome! I'm so happy you stopped by! I'm Sarah Macklem, an Interior Designer specializing in EDesign. I live with my family,  run my busy studio and blog from The Yellow Cape Cod. Now that we have intro's out of the way, let's get to my 2020 Christmas Tour...

Early this year, my family bought a rustic, 1934 cabin vacation home in Northern Michigan just before the pandemic. It's been a place of quiet solitude for our family during this period in time. We decided to wrap up 2020 by spending our holiday hiding out there. I've made an early trip up to prepare and decorate for Christmas. 

Hop in the car, er sleigh, and I'll take you on a virtual road trip to show you around "Camp Big Bear" all decked out for the Holidays... 

Over the river and through the woods, about 2 1/2 hours to go. Siri knows the way, to guide our sleigh through white and drifting snow. Over the river and through the woods, past the Elk Park we go, it steeps the woes, and peacefulness grows, the further up 75 we go!

Gaylord Elk Park 

We made it! Welcome to Camp Big Bear!
I hope you brought your boots! 

Our cabin is located on a steep wooded bluff over looking the lake. Once the snow starts falling (usually early November) it makes getting up to the cabin an adventure!

I kept the outdoor decor simple to allow the place itself to be the reward for the climb. Fresh greenery and velvet bows stand out nicely against fresh white snow. 

Come on in...

I'll start our tour in the great room. 
We're just in time to warm up by the fire and catch a few minutes of my favorite Holiday chick flick ...

The great room is the original part of the cabin built in 1934. The tall stone fireplace captivated my husband and I when we first came to see the place, and likely sold us on it. If you look close, you'll find some cool rocks like the puddingstone about halfway up. 

My brother (a talented artist) carved and painted this amazing loon decoy as a cabin-warming gift.  This guy pays homage to the pair of loons we've gotten to know quite well on our lake this year. We placed him on the mantle, putting him front and center.


Last year, Arhaus sent everyone on the Holiday Housewalk a lovely fur blanket. It's a nice accent next to the charming cable knit, fur trimmed, stockings I found on Amazon. 

I brought one of my faux Balsam Hill trees up from home and nestled it in the corner of the great room near the kitchen. To decorate the tree, I used rustic burlap ribbon, textural natural elements, LED candles, our kids mittens (from when they were little), and special ornaments gifted to us over the years. 

In the peak of the room, opposite the fireplace, this mule deer mount keeps watch over us. He was left in the cabin when we purchased it, and we've really become attached to him. I grabbed a ladder and dressed him with a Santa hat and wreath for a little Christmas spirit. 

One of my favorite things about decorating the cabin for Christmas was the challenge that came with using only what I had with me. It's not always easy to sneak out to the store up here, especially when it's snowing. I came up with this unique centerpiece for the dining table using left over ornaments from the tree, some collected antlers and pinecones in a wooden dough bowl...

Now, let's peek into the bedroom... This cozy little space is another part of the original cabin. We believe it was a porch originally and converted into a bedroom when the addition was added. 

As you may notice, this created a very unique design feature... the original window was left in place and looks out into the new part of the cabin (which I'll show you next). This is one of my favorite quirks... not only is it a great conversation starter, but having the window there serves as "art". It also allows natural light from the large windows in the addition to filter into the small bedroom. 

As they say, this room is definitely where the magic happens ...  lots of long, cozy, winter naps! 

Here is a closer look at the view "out" of the original window over the bed...

Now, let's head into that area of the cabin. We call this space the "mudroom" for lack of a better term. The staircase leads up to the bunk rooms and the long hallway alongside it offers a place for boots, coats, etc. to be stashed when entering through this back entrance. 

Under the stairs, we took what used to be a tiny utility area and turned it into an epic beverage center. 

This little niche is the busiest spot in the cabin. Whether you are looking for a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, a Christmas cocktail or a Michigan Beer, you'll find it here ... 

Inside the tall built in cabinet, my husband installed a mini fridge to keep the stash concealed (and cold)...

We further customized this room with an extra long, narrow, boot bench built by an Etsy Artist. 

Here is a look at the other side of the bedroom window. This is the view from the mudroom into the bedroom. I'm so happy the previous owners kept these cool original features in tact when they put the new addition on the cabin. It really helps tie the old part of the place into the new part. 

 I look forward to sharing more of Camp Big Bear with you as we continue to make it our own over the years. Before you go, grab a hot cocoa and hot bowl of bread pudding to enjoy with me al fresco at the dining table outside overlooking the lake...

Thank you for visiting. Safe travels, happy holidays and come back soon!
Now, head on over to the next stop on the tour...

PS. If you'd like a custom EDesign plan for a room in your home, I have openings! 

Also, keep in mind I'm extending my offer for  $150 OFF my design fee for Home Office/Study Spaces to help with the shift to work/study from home during this unprecedented time. If you have a unique work from home situation that you would like to discuss before booking, please feel free to reach out to me directly at or make your reservation here. 

*Offer available while appointment slots last. Limit one discounted space per client. Discount applies to Home Office/Home Study Spaces only.


  1. Sarah,
    Wow! Your cabin is gorgeous. I love everything! You have made it so warm and inviting. Your fireplace is awesome as is the beverage area. Your outdoor space is breathtaking. You are so talented. Thank you for being part of the Holiday Housewalk 2020!

  2. Beautiful! Exactly what my dream Christmas looks like!

  3. sarah, i couldnt help but think that one should be so lucky to be snowed in that beautiful cabin with stocked beverages! :) enjoy the holidays.

  4. In our younger years, Jim and I spent many wonderful times up in Big Bear. I still miss it. Your cabin is a delight, and it was a pleasure to tour, especially at Christmastime.
    Happy Holidays!!

  5. What a festive cabin and the perfect escape! Merry Christmas!

  6. Ummmmm did I just walk into my greatest Christmas fantasy, because it sure feels like it!! WOW!

  7. This is right out of a Hallmark movie!!! So beautiful - I would love to spend Christmas here. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  8. Ditto what Cassie said! I loved every square inch of your cabin - and the great outdoors too! I even looked up that Elk Park. I wanna live in your cabin this winter - it's sooo dreamy!!

  9. Your cabin is gorgeous. So cozy. Loved seeing all that beautiful snow and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the 1930s great room. LOVELY! Merry Christmas!

  10. Your cabin is amazing, I would love to vacation here and feel right at home, it's perfect!

  11. You had me at Northern Michigan and Elk Park! My in-laws have owned a 1930s cabin in Gaylord since the early 50s right on Otsego lake. Are you on the same lake? We also had a small home on the dry side of Wah Wah Soo Dr for almost 20 years but sold it about 5 years ago, just too far from South Florida. I always wanted to do it up like your cabin but we never spent enough time enjoying it there since the maintenance kept us busy. What a wonderful place you have and such a glorious part of the country! 😍 Pamela

  12. You have taken the foundation of this cabin, added your family and your ❤ to made it more beautiful than ever.y Your love is apparent in your details.I know this cabin was loved and hard for its previous owner to let go of. Thank you. �� Sandy Pelton

  13. Sarah, your cabin is beautiful! I feel as though I have stood in the lodge room before! You have shown the beauty of your cabin inside and out. Your attention to detail makes me feel that this cabin is filled with warmth,love and new family traditions. I love the red door!I look forward to holiday house walk next year.
    Merry Christmas, Sandy 🎄

    1. Thank you, Sandy! We love and appreciate every detail the previous owners put into restoring and building this place! I'm sure it was hard for them to leave it, we can really feel the love they had for it. We feel lucky to have it now and look forward to many years here making memories! Merry Christmas to the Pelton's!


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