For this speed build, I chose the Granite Falls vacation map in the Sims 4 because the giant pines reminded me of the forests in Maine. One of the things I love about living here is the cabin culture. Trees grow with abundance and ease, and Mainers have always been industrious and self sufficient. The rustic tones of the architecture reflect both practicality and a working relationship with the land and its resources, something that I think many find very grounding.
The Cabin Concept
To capture a rich, earthy atmosphere, I went with dark woods and the most quintessential cabin green for the outer doors and some accent windows. This is a vacation home that is rented in the game, so I wanted to keep the cost down while making it cool still.
It’s camp, so the aesthetic really needs to incorporate an element of second hand. Like, the new towels, dishes, couch, etc go in the house and the old ones go up to camp. Even shabby can look good, though and the balance for this house was to make it look cramped and used but still give the impression that you could relax while you’re there.
Well, okay, while your Sim is there. I do realize that real people won’t be staying in the house. It’s just part of the fun to envision a story behind the things I build in the game. The improved and simplified build tools in the Sims 4 has opened up this whole new aspect of the game for me, and it’s really tickling my storytelling urges.
But I digress. The point is, the people who I imagine would own this cabin are not the type of people to let practicality erode their style. Look, for example, to the front porch to see the simple ways in which the house is dressed up. Even the most modest abodes come with nice porches in this state. So, the front porch seemed like a great place to set up a quiet, semi-private place. A few tasteful plants subtly draw your attention to the bench, which then encourages you to sit and enjoy the view. It’s a quiet corner for the introvert to find solace, or to sneak in a few minutes of making out.
Should you chose, for the time being, to use the porch simply to enter the house, you’d find yourself in the main room of the cabin. The room has a mostly open floor plan but is broken up by the stairs into a kitchen and living area. Directly inside the front door is the living room.
The dark wood is continued in the paneling inside, but the lighter floors eliminate any sense of gloom. The furniture is intentionally rustic: plaids, wood, antiques.
Actually, the layout of this space was specifically inspired by a real estate listing I found online. It doesn’t seem appropriate to share the link here, because it’s someone actual home, but the arrangement of the furniture was an effort to recreate that home’s staging. That’s why there’s a TV on a dresser. The picture above the TV was included as a nod to Maine’s historic dependency on water and forests for their industries.
Here’s another angle of the living room, from over the small dining area. To the left is the kitchen and directly behind the camera view is the bathroom. Looking at this shot, I can see that I should have added some lighting to the back wall by the ship, but alas, I did not. But from this angle, you can see the love seat, which is once again arranged specifically with a real cabin in mind. I included the storage tub in the corner because it’s a vacation home, so the people showing up for vacation are going to need to bring their essentials with them. The idea is that they show up and dump the tub by the door as they arrive.
It’ll need to be cleaned up within minutes of anyone actually playing the house, but I also added a used coffee cup to the table. Like, whoever stayed here before you didn’t quite clean up all the way. This little detail is a bit of a nod to my grandma, who always left her coffee cups around. It was most common to find hers in the microwave, but this was the closest I could get in game.
Here’s a screenshot from over by the TV. You can see the stairs breaking up the room, a bit of the kitchen, and the back door. The stairs and the kitchen were really hard to get right because the space was small and the loft above limited where the stairs could go. This solution was hard to come by, but ultimately used the meager space very cleverly. Like, I wanted a back porch that was meant to be the part of the main hub of entertainment, but I couldn’t find a place to put the kitchen, let alone a back door. Putting the door in the tiny space left behind the stairs ended up being a really efficient use of the space.
It wasn’t easy to get screenshots of the bathroom. In the Sims 4, you can drop some of the walls to help see the house more clearly. It’s very useful for gameplay, but I try to avoid doing that when doing the screenshots. I like the images to be as immersive as possible — we’re telling a story, after all — but it just wasn’t possible for the camera to get into that small space with all the walls up.
So, in the first shot, you see the toilet, sink and artwork on the walls, but in the second the wall beside the toilet is cut out. It sort of diminishes the effect of the finished bathroom, but it also allows the camera to shoot the bathroom from the living room.
Ah, the sacrifices involved in making a cabin earn its cozy qualifier. Hahaha!
The video of this speed build really demonstrates how much I struggled with the kitchen of this house. But once I got things arranged, I was able to have a really good time utilizing cheats I had just learned and adding clutter to make the cabin look a bit more authentic. A couple of the cheats specific to the Sims 4 build mode include move objects and show hidden objects. The show hidden objects cheat is how I was able to place the used coffee cup on the table (and also why it will start to stink and need to be cleaned up once the house goes into live mode).
I used these cheats to unlock things like the bottle of flavor, which I think is vanilla extract, that is in the back corner by the dishes. By the way, how cool is that dish rack? It’s in the game — not from a cheat — but it’s one of my favorite clutter items.
Anyway, I also used the cheats to lift the pots and pans up to the top of the refrigerator. The measuring cup next to the cook books may also one of the hidden objects.
I also like how you can see the porch out the window. The Sims really lends itself well to great screenshots.
The last part of the interior to explore is the loft. There’s only one sleeping space in the cabin, so privacy isn’t really an option. The idea came from a cabin my husband stayed in once. He slept in a room that had lots of beds and really low ceilings. Like sleeping in the rafters. I kind of liked the idea that you don’t go to camp for privacy, you go to exhaust yourself outside and then go to sleep. So, I added a double bed for the adults, a dresser for storage, and some minimal lighting. At the last minute I added a lantern and a book case for rainy day entertainment, because cozy isn’t comfortable if everyone is bored and crammed in together.
The mounted fish were a delightful find from the hidden objects cheat. I think in the game you can catch fish and then send them away to get them mounted, but the cheat lets all the options show up in buy mode, so I went crazy. There aren’t antlers or bear rugs in the game, so this was the only hunting inspired decor available. Each one has a confidence mood boost that you can turn out, so the potential to feel awesome in this bedroom is quite high.
I also used the move objects cheat to make these bunk beds. I’ve since learned that the camping beds I used often have monsters under them. At night, tentacles will come out from under the bed and wiggle a bunch. Not sure if it will work if there are no kids on the lot though. The kid I had with me when I found out about this feature was the one who seemed to notice them. It would be very interesting to see if there are tentacles coming out of that top bed at any point.
Where the Magic Happens
Back down and under the stairs is the back door, which leads to the back yard. This is the best part of the whole property.
The back porch is large and meant for entertaining, at least yourselves. There’s a bunch of landscaping around the house and yard, but it has a neglected feel to it meant to indicate age, but also because plants thrive in Maine and plants can get overgrown between visits. Also, it’s a bit of an homage to how lazy I am with my own yard.
Here’s a better view of the back deck. There’s an area for grilling and eating. There’s also a nice little seating area off to the side that is sort of a coffee nook. The idea that a loving couple would sit and sip coffee together as the sun comes up is terrifically romantic to me. I can see them grabbing a few seconds of peace before the kids (and maybe grandkids) start wandering out, rubbing the sleep from their eyes.
The white building up against the far side of the porch is a wood shed. No cabin in the Maine woods is complete without some wood for the fire. Below is a view of the yard from the very back of the property. Since there is so little room inside, the back yard is set up to be enticing, day or night. I thought about adding fishing pond, but there wasn’t room.
One of the areas of the Sims 4 that I’m the newest to is the landscaping. I’ve plunked plants down for my Sims before, but I’ve never really taken the time to plan or ask myself why the plants are there or even how they would look in different situations. For example, how would the landscaping look if a person owned the property, but rarely visited it? How would that change if the property was being rented frequently?
I decided that this house would have pretty decent landscaping that was a bit overgrown and under tended. However, it wouldn’t be left to take over the yard or, in general, run amok, because the house has to feel used and welcoming. At least not abandoned. So I went with a bunch of cluttered plants around the porch and side yards. Then I included signs of wear in the high traffic areas of the yard.
There’s a tree in a planter box, to encourage gardening. This admittedly does take advantage of the fact that public plants don’t die from neglect in the Sims. There just needed to be a little extra entertainment in the yard, and there is little as grounding and connected to nature as gardening.
Here’s a pulled back shot of the side of the yard. I wanted to show the layers of trees, ground plants and boulders.
Here’s a different angle of that same side of the yard. The boulders were added by using rocks and sizing them up with the [ and ] keys. I added lots of them because Maine’s soil is super young, and we are at the tip of the Appalachian Mountains, so there are tons of glacier-smoothed boulders jutting out of the ground.
So that’s house. Thanks to the simplified building tools, the Sims 4 has been a source of powerful inspiration for not just the visual artist in me, but also the story teller. If you want to check out the speed build videos for this build, head on over to the YouTube channel. It’s a two part video, so check out both halves.