Lofty goal

One of the last big to-do items on our list for the cabin has been the loft. There was a terrible, awful, mouse-pee-filled loft that was barely accessible and shoddily built when we moved it. It so ruined the flow of the house that one of the first things we did was cut the wall open to let the light in. But, even in its gross state, it was a cool little hangout, and well-situated over the bedroom as a good potential storage space. So we’ve always figured we’d build a loft – just not sure when or how. Before photos:

Two years ago, we picked up a load of 2×6 T&G flooring at an outdoor salvage yard and have kept in stored in tents and the carport, moving it around the yard seemingly a dozen times. Next we needed to figure out how to create joists that didn’t take up much headroom and went with the character of the house. Logs, of course. At the time, there weren’t any copies of this book available, so I had to get one via interlibrary loan from the Fairbanks, AK public library – the only copy I could find in the country! We learned that even with soft cedar or spruce logs, we only needed logs that were about 4″ at midbeam for this application, which allowed us to consider using a small, simple ledger system that could fit in the header between two log courses on the back wall of the house. Now we just needed those logs!

It’s tough to find relatively small diameter, good logs – most people try to sell giant trees, or skinny fenceposts – in-between stuff is scarce. So when I saw a Craigslist ad where someone had a set of antique rafters removed (and denailed!) from an 1800s barn, located near K’s parents’ house, and for only $10 a log, I called immediately. Turns out, the logs were also flat on one face – ummm, perfect! K had to make a trip down that way anyways, and picked up 9 logs (we needed 6, but with old material, you always need extras for insurance). They are actually hemlock, gorgeous, heavy, rock-solid logs! We spent a cold afternoon giving then a quick scrub, then they looked like this:

Awesome worm trails everywhere. We ordered some rough-sawn hemlock (total cost: $12) from our local lumberyard for the ledgers. Then we got going on putting together the floor/ceiling framing. Because of the limited vertical space we had to squeeze it all in, we notched a bit of each log and the ledger. Then attached the ledgers with Timberloks and dropped the logs in the pockets. Seriously, they fit right in – we only had to re-cut one. Here’s the framing:

Finally, we planed all the floorboards – which are a mixed old un-used salvage lot including pine, fir, cedar, hemlock, and oak – to as close as we could to the same thickness. The goal was to have a rustic, attic-plank-y floor, so perfection was not needed (or happening). Of course it started snowing while we planed them, but luckily we have the carport to work in now. Yesss!

And we attached the floorboards yesterday. Now it’s all of the trim work, paint touch-up, decor, and building in some storage and we’ll have a nice little guest sleeping loft/hideaway/storage solution. We’ll wait until summer to urethane it all, when we can sleep outside and let things air out.


Winter break has begun! What could we possibly be building this year? Hint: today’s prep tasks included washing these lovely antique logs outdoors in the barely-above-freezing weather.


In the meantime, decorations

We’re waiting for the garage to be what one might call “well organized” before the big reveal – we are still moving items in from all the nooks and crannies where we’ve been storing them, and selling some extra stuff, so it’s a bit of a work in progress.

In addition to continuing the garage organization saga, we did holiday decor this weekend! We decided to string lights and ornaments from a log beam in the house ¬†and call that the X-Mas tree this year. And, I remembered how to make a wreath, after last year’s fun wreath & wine day. I re-purposed the Thanksgiving napkin rings to make a bow, and we found an awesome branch full of acorn caps to include, since this was the summer of falling acorns. I’m on break soon (hooray!) and we have big plans…

Windows, benches, and food!

It’s December already?! Thanksgiving happened. We had dinner here in the little cabin with K’s folks. Instead of turkey, we enjoyed baked stuffed scallops, grilled veggies with a roasted red pepper sauce, and artichoke risotto.

We have mostly been working on the garage – luckily we were planning to do indoor work over Thanksgiving break because it rained most of the time! We snagged a corner countertop from Craigslist, but needed more bench top material. On my last day at the office, there were two huge desks being thrown out, and they were just sitting on the loading dock, disassembled, waiting for trash pickup. I ran up, checked with the building manager, and got the OK to load them up! They are 6′ lengths of super-hard laminate material, about 29″ wide, and in near perfect shape. It’s amazing what people toss. They were the exact right size for the two remaining benches. Next time we post more organization will be done and we’ll show you our other amazing score…

Finally, even though it’s gotten cold and reminded us why we need to wear gloves to work in winter, we got several things done today: installed exterior window and door trim for the garage (used up leftover salvaged wood from the cabin and old barn boards we dragged here from the other house), sealed up the window openings with spray foam, weatherstripped the door, and changed out the door knob so we can finally lock the garage. Progess! We’ll stain and caulk the trims if we get a warm day, or else in spring. In all, there are four windows. The original design we were given had just one (!), but we picked up four windows in a lot with our garage door for super-cheap (we actually got 5 windows plus the garage door for less than half of a new door + 1 window), and we’re so happy to have much better cross-ventilation and light with all the windows.