You might be inspired to start sketching your own dream cabin and writing wish-lists after cracking open architect and "cabinologist" Dale Mulfinger's new book, Cabinology: A Handbook to Your Private Hideaway (The Taunton Press, $25). From the first question any cabin-owner wannabe asks (Where to build the cabin?), through creating drawings and choosing building materials, to applying the finishing touches, Mulfinger takes readers through all the basic steps of creating a cabin get-away.

The author of The Cabin: Inspiration for the Classic American Getaway (with Susan E. Davis, 2003), The Getaway Home: Discovering Your Home Away from Home (2004), and numerous "Cabin Fever" columns for Mpls St.Paul Magazine, Mulfinger is a principal of SALA Architects based in Minneapolis and an adjunct professor of architecture at the University of Minnesota.

Cabinology was born out of Mulfinger's desire to provide the same kind of guidance to a wider audience that he was already providing through local adult education classes for people interested in designing and building their own cabins. While his previous books focused on case studies of cabins designed by various architects, Cabinology takes a how-to approach and is infused with Mulfinger's personal musings and meditations about cabins and all they symbolize. "People who know me and have read it say it's got a lot more of me, my personality, in it," he says.

According to Mulfinger, a true cabin is rustic, unpretentious, purely functional, and "precious" only in the feelings it evokes in those who visit and remember it. "It's precious in our minds, in terms of what it means to us, but not in the way it was made. It might have been made by scavenged or salvaged materials," he notes. "If you see a fancy arched window in somebody's cabin, you know that was a reject window from another project; it wasn't built specifically for that cabin. And cabins are just fine with that—with a little borrowed and a little blue."

The most important element of any cabin, according to Mulfinger, is the piece of land on which it will be built "because it will shape something about the way the structure will be thought about and oriented, its views, its shape, how it will be entered, and so forth." Nearly as important as the cabin's site is the cabin's personality, which can run the gamut from spare to quirky. "Most people tend to think of a cabin not in the same light as they think of their home, where they put a lot of emphasis on resale," Mulfinger says. Cabins frequently are kept within families, which allows the owners to infuse them with more personality: whether through the choice of interior art, the architecture of the building, or by creating a story for the home away from home. "Part of being in a cabin is about creating a special place that has a lot of personality in it," he adds.

Over the years, Mulfinger has designed about 50 cabins, remodeled several, and researched more than 70. He also has built two cabins for himself and his family. Visit your favorite e-tailer to purchase Cabinology, for yourself or for a client.