Inside a Cozy New Mexico Cabin

How one couple built a beautiful dream cabin on a budget.

Kimberly Herrara and her husband dreamt of owning land and a cabin since they were teenagers. Keep reading to learn how they made their dreams come true.

We live in a very small town called Espanola, NM just a few miles north of Santa Fe, NM. Our cabin is located in Tierra Amarilla, NM, which is about a 1.5-hour drive north. I would consider our cabin a weekend home right now. Our ultimate goal would be to move there full-time. We try to spend as much time there as possible.

Building a Cabin on a Budget

When we started dating in 1986, we would take drives to the area of Los Brazos where our cabin is located, and always thought it would be a dream to one-day own property there. We always felt you had to be rich to be able to own property or to build. I guess when you’re 14 and 18, it seems very, very far-fetched. Well, in August of 2016, we found a piece of property we fell in love with, so we decided it was time to take the leap; what a dream come true. We thought it was perfect because it already had all the utilities needed for a cabin one day. In the meantime, We bought a camper and would stay there any chance we could. 

After about a year, we decided to sell our camper and use that money to build. We had a budget of 15k and just went for it. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted, so we just started building. We built the entire shell in about 2 months. We wanted to ensure we had it completely dried in before the winter came. I searched the Facebook market, salvage shops, and Craigslist for building materials so that we could stay on budget. By October 2017, we had built our 16×32.

We built it ourselves my husband and I did all the footings, all the cement work, and all the base flooring. We then had a friend who came in to help my husband build the walls and roof. So basically, it was the three of us that did all the work. We started in August of 2017 and had the complete shell done by October 31, 2017.

The Building/Design Process on a Budget

I guess the most challenging part, I would say, was probably the weather. We started in August, and in the last part of September, it started raining badly so September and October were very wet. Trying to get it dried in was a little tough since we have 16-foot ceilings and being on a roof that high in the rain was no fun. That definitely was the most difficult. Designing it, I would say was not very difficult at all. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted, and we stayed pretty close to that plan. Simple with high ceilings was our main goal. 

Interior Design Inspiration

I would say my design style is rustic eclectic boho. I do love an eclectic mix because I like a little bit of everything, and I don’t necessarily go out looking for something in particular. To buy in one style. I buy whatever catches my eye, and then I just try to make it work in my home. 

I would say 90 to 95% of my house is thrifted. I’ve been collecting for a very long time. I always dreamt that we would build this cabin so I kind of would stash things away in my garage or my shed l. In fact, when I would clean out my sheds, and sometimes I’d have yard sales, I would have bins labeled cabin decor, and my mom would say to me you don’t have a cabin why do you have these labeled that way? I would tell her I don’t have one now, but I will, and it makes me so happy and proud that we made that dream come true.

I think I get design inspiration everywhere it could be from people’s homes that I visit, definitely Pinterest, Instagram, and my mom. My mom always decorated our home, painting and upcycling furniture. She took us thrifting and always saw potential in things nobody else might have. I loved that about her. I definitely think she’s my main inspiration. 

Advice for DIY Projects

I’m not scared to change anything, especially with paint. If you don’t like it, paint it again. I’m not much of a wallpaper person. It’s a lot of work, and I like to change things often, so I keep walls pretty neutral and use furniture, baskets, art, and mirrors on my walls instead. I love to shop my home and move things around it helps make your space feel new and fresh without spending money. 

What is your favorite piece of furniture in your cabin?

I think my favorite piece is probably our green pantry cabinet. I bought it off FB market. It was a very dark brown wood, and I painted it a beautiful green color. I think it’s actually for a bedroom, but it’s been perfect for us to store all our pantry goods. 

What are your next projects for the cabin?

It is not complete; we are still working on our bedroom and bathroom right now. It is going to be in a separate 12 x 24 building that will be attached by a small breezeway, dog trot style. The small building is on our property right now, and we’ve been working on it slowly. 

If you had to do it all over again, what is one thing you would change or do differently?

Honestly, I don’t think we would do anything different. I love that we did it all ourselves I love that we tried to use as many salvaged materials as we could and that we stayed on a budget. We didn’t get in debt to it, so I don’t think I’d change a thing. It has been an awesome experience from the beginning.

Tips for Decorating a Cabin on a Budget

My favorite tip would be to thrift shop, hit yard sales, estate sales, and Facebook market. It’s where I have bought a majority of my favorite things. I have been collecting for so many years, so I have treasures that make my home different and didn’t break the bank.

Creating a Home You Love

I guess my only advice would be to buy what you love, not what’s on-trend not what your favorite Instagram person is doing in their home do what makes you happy. Buy what makes you happy; that alone will create a cozy home. Oh, and pillows, lots of pillows.

If you love a cozy home, you will also love this delicious soup to enjoy on a cozy winter day. This hearty potato soup has wonderful reviews!

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