My cabin restoration

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Project by MalcolmLaurel posted 03-17-2014 12:05 PM 2534 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve posted pictures of details and stuff for my cabin before, but it occurred to me I didn’t show the whole thing, so here it is. This is our summer cabin (though I go up there on the occasional winter weekend, too) in NY. It’s kind of a weird co-op deal, I don’t actually own it or the land it’s on, but it’s mine as long as I take care of it (and pay the dues… it’s a camp organization that my great grandfather was one of the founders of). I grew up here, not in the same cabin, I was gone for years, then about 12 years ago I returned, got a cabin, then moved to the present cabin when it became available.

All of the cabins in the area date to the 1920s, and were built on the same basic pattern, 18’ square with a hip roof, then most got the addition of a screen porch and other rooms. The central portion (now the living room) and the porch are all native chestnut. This one was a real mess when we got it… years of neglect and inept repairs / modifications, water damage, rotted floors, you name it. The first year we were really questioning our sanity, having left the one we had already spent 5 years fixing up. This one is bigger, though, and a better location. Through the front door in one of the pictures you can actually see our old cabin. The front door is original, but I got the stained glass window from a local junk shop.

I won’t bore you with the sordid details of the mess it was, but the walls were cheap paneling, warped and buckled from the water damage, and the plumbing was so bad I ripped it all out and started from scratch… but I digress. One of the first tasks was to put on a new roof with the help of friends and neighbors; fortunately the original chestnut roof boards were in good shape, though the kitchen roof was shot (I actually fell through it when inspecting it) and had to be replaced. For that I used T1-11 siding with the rough side visible on the inside.

After leveling the cabin as best I could (the living room floor was 8” out of level) and ripping out all of the paneling, I redid the walls with beaded plywood, hand picking all the sheets to find pieces without bondo or fishmouth patches. Of course every piece had to be cut on an angle because even after leveling nothing was really plumb or square. Pulling off the paneling, I exposed the original chestnut log posts, which had been boxed over (why?) and in some cases, painted white (again, why?). Instead, I cut the ply-bead to match the curve of the posts (you can see one in one of the pictures), and scraped paint where appropriate. Then, after a long search for an appropriate stain for the walls and trim (I had used a one-step poly/stain combo in the old cabin and didn’t like working with it), I ended up using an exterior stain from Cabot. It stunk for awhile but it came out nice, I think.

The bedrooms are on the same pattern, except for one that’s finished in clear shellac instead of stain. There’s one picture of the master bedroom, which I extended 6’ (it was tiny) and added a back door. There’s an antique coal stove in there, which makes it cozy on a cold winter night. Like many of the surrounding cabins, the windows are all old wood frame windows, top hinged outside the screens, with a pull cord to open them.

I didn’t do much to the screen porch, except pulling up the carpet and subflooring that somebody had nailed over the original rough chestnut floorboards, which I painted. The table you see there is hinged, the support (a mountain laurel branch) swings out of the way and the table folds down to give extra room.

The bulge on the back left corner is the shower, which I relocated from its original location inside the cabin. The siding logs there and on the outside of the bedroom extension were salvaged from another cabin that was flattened by a snowstorm and deemed not worth rebuilding.

There’s still work to do (isn’t there always?)... I’m still tediously picking out white latex caulk that the previous owner used everywhere in a vain attempt to keep mice out, and eventually I’ll replace the ugly front step railings with ones made from logs… but after 7 years of working on it I’m relaxing and taking my time.

-- Malcolm Laurel -

5 comments so far

View Richard's profile


297 posts in 3782 days

#1 posted 03-17-2014 01:10 PM

So… that is what heaven looks like, eh?
Nice job and great story.

-- 'I sand, therefore, I am'. Richard. PNW.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4111 days

#2 posted 03-17-2014 01:16 PM

That sure does look like a wonderful place to waste away the hours. It’s looking great.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3537 days

#3 posted 03-17-2014 01:26 PM

Looks like a great place to getaway and decompress! Thanks for sharing.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30646 posts in 3583 days

#4 posted 03-17-2014 03:14 PM

Looks like a good place for a LJs get together. Nice work.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View GerardoArg1's profile


1016 posts in 3238 days

#5 posted 03-19-2014 11:30 PM

Beatiful. A dream….

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

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