Living Large in our Little House and the Tiny House Blog, a couple of Facebook pages I love, shared some photos of our little cabin this week. They are both great sources of information on living happily in a small house and both have blogs that you can link to from their Facebook page.
Several people asked so I thought I would share a little about how our cabin came to be. The first 15 years we had our place we had a little travel trailer we stayed in. If you have ever gone to a “good ole boys” deer or fish camp, then you have an idea of what that was like! It was not an adorable little trailer like the Sisters on the Fly (www.sistersonthefly.com) have. The ceiling was falling in, the floor was patched, and we never opened the bottom kitchen cabinets for fear of what was lurking there. Sometimes it’s just better if you don’t know!
Eight and a half years ago we built the little cabin. We had many different ideas we tossed around before we settled on the way it is. We had a certain amount to spend and we could either build a cabin with more square footage but finished with less costly materials and less energy-saving features, or we could build smaller. As smaller, we could have more small rooms or fewer big rooms. We settled on building one big “great room” that we would also sleep in. Then we could always add a bedroom later. We thought about putting a loft over the kitchen but decided against it. We didn’t want to lose the open feeling of the high ceiling or the floor space a stair would take, and we aren’t getting any younger, so climbing a ladder wasn’t appealing!
We had someone build the cabin shell for us. (http://www.springbranchtradingpost.com/index.htm) We finished what we could on the inside. We installed insulation, tongue and groove walls in the living area, beaded board on the kitchen wall and in the bathroom, and a tin ceiling in the bathroom. We put shelves in from leftover wall lumber. We sealed the walls and ceiling, painted the beaded board. We hired contractors to do what we didn't feel comfortable doing.
The cabin consists of a 20 x 20 great room, an 8 x 8 bathroom, a 6 x 20 front porch and an 8 x 12 back porch.
The kitchen island began life as an Ikea storage table. We extended the top and tiled it. The main tiles are inexpensive ones from the home store and I used some handmade Mexican tiles that I purchased in Austin as accent tiles. I closed in the bottom open shelf so that we could hide the pantry items stored there. The side facing the sink I left open. I used leftover beaded board to close it in.
We have a stackable washer/dryer combination next to the refrigerator. We originally had track lighting where the barn lights are. But they kept going out and we had to bring in a 12 foot ladder to replace them. It got to be too much trouble and again, we aren't getting any younger! We ordered these online and bought the galvanized light over the sink to match from a home store.
I made a curtain for the bathroom and we hung it on a galvanized pipe with shower curtain rings. This hides the water heater and the storage shelves.
The tote bags hanging on the wall by the storage shelves have nail polish and supplies in one and hair brushes in the other.
I put a lot of hooks for towels in the bathroom for when we have company!
We screened in the back porch and built a broom closet there. I made the door from leftover tin, beaded board I painted red, and a burlap bag that fatwood fire starter came in. The little fence next to the closet and the old wooden whiskey crate hide the recycling bag.
We had a stone mason do the fireplace and the cabin skirting. Since then I have tried my hand at masonry, stoning in the bottom of one of the storage buildings we have so I might try my hand at that again, but not sure I want to tackle a fireplace.
We had hoped to make a mantel from a large elm on the property. It’s hard to find a tall straight tree in our neck of the woods and we had a couple of these elms here. But when Rickie cut it down it was rotten in the middle. So he found a place that would sell him a large unfinished piece of mesquite that had been kiln dried. He sanded it and sealed in. He installed it on two cedar supports he had cut on our place.
We bought a book called Rainwater Collection for the Mechanically Challenged. We studied it and put in gutters and a cistern. The cistern we purchased was manufactured in San Marcos and was in keeping with the style of the cabin. It's metal and has a fiberglass liner. We use it for watering our plants so we don't filter it.
I think that because we did do some of the work ourselves it means more to us than if we hadn't. It gives us a sense of satisfaction that we might not have otherwise. And because we spent so many years using the "deer camp" travel trailer we appreciate the little cabin more than we might if we just came out and built something right away. We would still love it but maybe not have some of the emotional attachment to it that we have. Getting your hands dirty with the work makes a difference! We didn't have a lot of experience when we started so don't let that keep you from trying.
The cabin was basically finished so we could live in it after 4-5 months, although we did some things later. We gave the little travel trailer to the young man that built the cabin shell and he took it off to a deer lease. And we all lived happily ever after!