7 vintage 1960s vacation homes & cabins

The versatile Shorehill vacation home (1960)

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“Convertible” second house design (1960)

Here are most of the comforts of your city home in a 960-square-foot economy cabin by architect Henrik Bull.

Designed for two-stage development, it can be built for around $3,200 in the first unpainted rustically furnished stage. This includes wiring, plumbing and carpenter’s labor, but does not include the lot or septic tank installation.

Architect Bull achieves the construction economies and livability of conventional box-like structures, but eliminates the boxy appearance with two rectangular units one for living and one for sleeping — connected by a 16 x 20-foot sun deck sheltered with a “convertible” canvas-covered gable.

Convertible second house design (1960)

The “convertible” topped sundeck separating the two cabin wings provides a barbecue center, patio space or extra play area. Canvas cover can be easily rolled up or down for shade on hot days.

Simply but comfortably furnished, the spacious living room accommodates the big weekend crowds …and with sleeping bags provides plenty of spare emergency bedroom space.

Vacation home from 1960 - Convertible style

The bedroom wing sleeps a family of five comfortably, and a large weekend crowd can be accommodated by using sleeping bags and turning the deck and living area into emergency bedrooms.

When you decide to turn this into a full-time home, it’s a simple matter to add insulation, wall paneling and central heating.

Here’s room for genuine relaxation without the “rough edges” of usual vacation cabin living. Note the compact kitchen which provides all the necessities in a minimum amount of space.

Convertible vacation home interior


Charming Cape Cod cottage vacation home (1960)

Neat and trim as the Cape Cod style it was patterned after, this vacation home by architect Laurence Higgins is without unnecessary frills, yet it incorporates a surprising amount of space for just plain-down-to-earth relaxation.

Charming Cape Cottage second home (1960)

The living room is 15′ 4″ by 10’4″ with room on the first floor for a 7′ by 10″ bedroom, a compact kitchenette and a complete bath with shower.

In the second floor sleeping loft, which is reached by an out-of-the-way ladder, almost any number of children can be accommodated. The loft may be divided into more bedrooms, or left as an open sleeping dormitory.

The Cape Cottage is made comfortable for year round living with an economical out-of-the-way central floor furnace.

Storage poses no problem either. In addition to the large guest closet inside the front door, there’s a wardrobe-size bedroom closet and a big 5-foot-wide fully-enclosed outdoor storage shelter conveniently located just outside the back door.

The Cape Cottage, as is usual with most of the cabins illustrated in this booklet, can be completed in gradual stages as the budget permits and as space is needed.

Interior of charming Cape Cottage second home (1960)

The large, uncluttered living room provides nearly as much usable room as the average town house for dining, cooking and relaxing.

Everything you need for comfortable leisure living is here — and what’s more — it’s handy.


A vacation home with Japanese style: Summer teahouse (1960)

A touch of Old Japan, added to the occidental comforts and convenience you’ve come to expect — that’s the charming summer teahouse design by architect Laurence S. Higgins.

A vacation home with Japanese style - Summer teahouse

The summer teahouse: How this simple vacation home is built

Into a compact 20 x 24 foot shelter, he’s planned a lot of vacation living with more than the usual luxury. Yet — because fir plywood is used to its fullest economy and most practical application — the Summer Teahouse is meant for those who want to keep costs at a sensible level.

Siding and sheathing is one material — Texture One-Eleven, the grooved fir plywood that provides a pleasing pattern of vertical highlight and shadow. Flooring, roof decking, and built-ins are of fir plywood, too.

MORE: A-frame house plans for second homes & family vacation cabins: 12 retro designs from the 50s & 60s

And because Architect Higgins has planned for construction simplicity, the wall sections and roof trusses can be pre-assembled and hauled to the site for easier, faster erection.

Designed with plenty of window area to take advantage of a marine view, the Teahouse can be built on concrete piers, right at the water’s edge. Yet it would be as suitable for a mountain or view location, if that’s your favored site.

This summer teahouse’s floorplan

Designer s eye-view shows how maximum livability can be planned into minimum space. Bath features handy outside entrance. Area behind low couch is for storage, accessible from outside.

A vacation home with Japanese style - Summer teahouse

The summer teahouse’s interior

View of living area shows subtle blend of eastern and western decor.

A vacation home with Japanese style - Summer teahouse


The mid-century modern Shorehill vacation home (1960)

David George, Dallas architect, designed this wide-open cabin for the wide-open vistas of Texas, but it’s just as adaptable and attractive on a New England seaside lot, or in the mountains of the West.

Tailored into its small (448 square foot) floor plan, you’ll find a complete galley type kitchen; complete bath with a full-size shower; a 32 square foot closet and wardrobe; plus smart-looking built-in sofa beds that will sleep four in real comfort.

The versatile Shorehill vacation home (1960)

There’s space provided in a snug corner for a prefabricated fireplace that will furnish all the “central heating” you’ll ever need.

And, there’s also a covered sun deck with 128 square feet of area solely for sunning and lounging… mighty pleasant on warm summer evenings. Here again, fir plywood construction helps to keep costs down — style high.

Exterior fir plywood serves as both inner and outer wall — presenting a durable paintable surface to the elements on one side; a warm friendly atmosphere inside. Plywood’s large consistent panel size makes it possible to take full advantage of the economies of modular construction, and presents possibilities for expansion into a full-time home later.

Interior versatile Shorehill vacation home (1960)

Architect George succeeded in achieving a spacious interior yet divided cabin into three distinct areas for living, dining, cooking. The out-of-the-way fireplace serves as a living room focal point.

Shorehill fireplace focal point - Vintage midcentury modern home decor


A vacation home on the water: Homarina beach cabin (1960)

This beach cabin is perfect for the family to whom a second home is a place for boats as well as people. It has a seafaring air about it from stem to stern — yet it’s snugly anchored to shore.

A vacation home on the water The Homarina beach cabin (1960)

The Homarina beach cabin: How this seaside getaway is built

The Homarina, designed by architect Milton Schwartz, provides secure boat storage plus over 400 square feet of comfortable, practical leisure living space — plus a large deck right at water’s edge.

The living area is arranged into compact sleeping, cooking, social and bath areas. Step from this onto the big deck out front (room to grow here) — then down a short ladder to the floating dock where your boat is moored. Could anything be finer?

MORE: Build your second home: The Ranger A-Frame cabin (1960)

In the Homarina, fir plywood again helps keep costs way down. If the recommended medium-density overlaid fir plywood is used, materials should run you between $2,500 and $3,000.

Overlaid plywood is specified because it provides an extra measure of durability. Less expensive grades of plywood would reduce the estimated figures, of course.

Architect Schwartz designed this right-on-the-water shelter for Johnson Motors Family Boating Bureau. It rests firmly on concrete piers or preservative-treated wood piles.

The beach cabin’s wall design

Overlaid plywood serves as combined siding and sheathing on walls. Plywood assures lateral rigidity which this type of structure requires.

A vacation home on the water The Homarina beach cabin (1960)

This beach cabin’s floorplan

Floor plan shows well-designed use of space, both inside and out.

A vacation home on the water The Homarina beach cabin (1960)


3-stage beach cabin – Vacation/second home (from 1960)

Do you have basic woodworking skills — plus about $900 for materials? If so, you’re in! For that’s all you need to get started on this luxury camp that grows into a charming home-away-from-home.

3-stage beach cabin - Vacation home design from 1960

This first stage is simply a deck, roof, and more-than-adequate storage space for camping gear. This is actually only a campsite — but with a difference. And it’s planned to be “at home” on lake, ocean, bay or stream. In any setting, it will serve you long and well with minimum upkeep.

Stage two takes this basic easy-to-build shelter a bit further toward ultimate vacationing comfort. You add a cooking unit, hot water heater, shower and toilet. You provide for better sleeping facilities.

Stage three — when and if you want it — gives you everything you could possibly desire for a weekend or a season. You can even insulate and make it suitable for any time of the year.

3-stage beach cabin - Vacation home design as it grows (1960)3-stage beach cabin - Vacation house plan (1960)


The Loch Haven – mid-century ranch home (1960)

The Loch Haven is the “ranch rambler” of the DFPA cabin series. Designed by Architects Rogers, Taliaferro and Lamb, it has a luxurious Arabian Nights touch in its sunken living room and screened sleeping wing.

The Loch Haven - mid-century ranch home (1960)

On the other hand, its construction is strictly the down-to-earth American variety… featuring versatile, durable, practical panels of fir plywood throughout.

The Loch Haven is perfect for a sheltered lakeside or riverbank setting, with every room facing the view and screen windows admitting cooling breezes.

The sunken 12-foot by 12-foot living room is completely separated from the rest of the cabin by a huge sun deck. Three separate small bunk rooms provide sleeping quarters for up to 6 people if bunks are stacked two deep. At the end of the line is a complete compact bathroom featuring a striking ceramic tile finished shower-tub combination.

The entire complex is tied together with a four-foot walkway that also provides extra sunning deck plus a private outdoor lanai for each bunk room.

The Loch Haven - mid-century vacation home (1960)

This is another cabin design that makes it easy for you to develop your vacation paradise on a budget. Start with the living room only, and add bedrooms and indoor plumbing as you can afford.

Three attractive screened bedrooms are completely separated from living area — providing absolute privacy and solitude for even the light sleepers.

Salient features of the sunken living room are the low luxurious built-in sofas and cheery prefabricated fireplace.

Living room of Loch Haven - mid-century ranch vacation home (1960)

NOW SEE THIS: 6 vacation cabins from the 1950s: Midcentury second homes

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