Tag Archives: design

Cottage Conceptions

For those that are coming to the story late, I asked all my blog friends and readers to send me their idea of an awesome cottage. (I’m thinking of building on my own.) Readers here at The Pines are a pretty neat group, so I suspect that we’re going to have a virtual mini-encyclopedia of cabin and cottage designs here!

And it’s good for our blogs! Keep the cottage pics, links, and comments coming! I’ll post the links here, we’ll have a bit of a chat about them, and we’ll have a right proper Link Fest. Not a blogger? Play along anyway! Pass it on! I’d love it if you’d mention it on your blog or to friends – the more pics and links, the better!

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Now, Tricollie, she’s a lady after my own heart. I could live in just about anything as long as I had one of these. Truth be told, when I was jotting a thing or two down, I actually bumped out the walls of the bathroom and took space from the bedroom, so I could accomodate a real tub. Had a link issue, but this is the sort of thing we were talking about.

Lynne at The Blue Door Blog (love that house of hers!) suggested Strawbale building. If you’re not familiar, it works like this – A foundation is built, straw bales are stacked as walls (and fortified/tied with rebar or otherwise), then plastered hard with a natural Earth plaster.

Strawbale is a relative of Cob – mud/clay building. There was a time, Awesome Lynne, when I had every book published on all this. Went to a workshop! But, with our visibility, short build season, and a potential codes battle, I decided I didn’t have it in me. Love ’em though.

Allie from over at Good Things Challenge sent me a wonderful link! (She has a neat gardening post up, currently.) They’re planning on doing the Owner/Builder thing too, and made me aware of their go-to site, Country Plans. Via the link, I’m sending you to a particular cottage – because the construction photos were so good, they made me feel better!

Kathy sent me the link to these little cottages in Oregon. They’re absolute gems – looking at the photos of these gorgeous little things is like walking through an art gallery. Makes me wish we had more decent salvage from tearing down the junky house last Summer. (There was really nothing except some logs and lumber I saved.)

Vicki at Havenwood sent me this wonderful link. If you’re a follower of natural building methods or interesting cottages, you’ve probably seen this house. Friends and I have always called it The Hobbit House. I had somehow forgotten about it! I couldn’t do something like this around here, but it’s enough for me just to look at the thing. It’s amazing. Also, an awesome debunking on Vicki’s part – this photo circulates pretty frequently, but no one ever gives the link or location. Thanks!

Joanna at Boonedocks Wilcox is tugging at my heart strings! Oh, how I would love to build a cordwood house. I want one bad! You can likely tell from my favorite photo – they’re stacked and mortared hardwood. Two big issues for me though – I’ve never known a cordwood house that didn’t leak, and you really have to stay on top of tuck pointing the joints. There’s constant shrinking and expanding of the wood, so there’s constant pointing work. But I want one! It would be pretty safe to say that a cordwood house is my heart’s desire. I’ve studied them pretty hard, for several months last year actually. Maybe Joanna has convinced me to take another look.

To Sandy, I have to just plain say, “Thanks.” Hers are the kind of comments that make me feel like I’m not alone in all this. Sandy and her husband built their own house (over three years), and left a really lovely comment about the this-that-and-the-other thing when building for yourself. Thanks again, Sandy.

The Mac is a neighbor, they built their own home, and we share a Zodiac Sign. So it didn’t surprise me when the nicities she said I needed were exactly the things I have discovered it would be nice to have – 2×6 exterior wall, mud room, metal roof so the snow sheds itself, lots of windows! Mac also points us to the ultimate clearing house for those interested in building smaller – The Tiny House Design Blog. It wonderful. The author collects information in all types of tiny houses, and posts them for our edification on the blog.

John over at Adirondack Almanack suggests a great book (I love this stuff) called “How to Build Cabins, Lodges, and Bungalows,” a “straightforward manual details the construction process from foundation to roof, including chapters on porches, fireplaces, and furnishings.” Might be able to inter-library this one to check it out before I order one. Pretty neat – It’s been constantly reprinted. Awesome.

OldLadyMac sent me an awesome link – Shelter Kit. This is the sort of thing I love – I wouldn’t buy a kit house, mostly because … well, I don’t know why. I just wouldn’t. However, these kit house websites usually offer tons of information, and this one is a whopper. Lots of great photos, floorplans, photos. Awesome site.

Blessing the Elements send me word of a site I had never seen before – Natural Home Magazine. I think of it as more of an “inspiration site,” and frankly, I think that’s one of the most valuable components of this whole building-your-own-home enterprise. I always like to say – Take tons of time planning and dreaming, and enjoy yourself! This is a great site for that. Good reading here! Fun. Reads like a magazine. I found information here on Tiny Houses, Cob Houses, and all sorts of neat stuff. Read a great article about the 280 square foot cottage pictured.

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So, where does this put me? Maybe a few soft decisions have been made. I now know that we will be either building a standard construction framed cottage, or a cordwood cottage. I know both methods. I understand them. It’s important that I feel comfortable. I’m going to go back to look at my cordwood reading again.

After looking at more photos, I know that I positively need to do a simple “Alpine” or “English Country” thing. They feel right. I tried real hard to look at other styles, but I can’t wrap my mind around putting a non-rustic cottage amidst my spruces and pines.  I really believe that in the best of worlds, the home is part of the landscaping, part of a whole. I believe that ideally, the property is one piece, not several varied components.

At the mention of all this, my mind naturally wandering towards tree and perennial planting this Spring. There’s going to be a lot of that going on soon! I do a lot of planting around here – counteracting whoever stripped the lot clean 100 years ago. I have an endless supply of free White Pines and Lupins. Wouldn’t a little cordwood cottage look awesome among a property filled with those?

While we’re in a stream-of-conciousness mood –  I found a cottage name at natural Home Magazine that I really like. “Quietude.” Isn’t that cool?



Filed under adirondacks

I am the Egg Man

They are the egg men.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.

000_1614Further progress on the Chicken Ranch – just a few tweaks left. The door, mainly. And a few patches. And some plexiglass. It’s awesome! Now I have to begin making space for a chicken yard around it. A chicken rancher’s work is never done.

I wouldn’t say I would do things differently. However, working with super-tough 100 year old vintage roughcut board has its drawbacks. Tough stuff. I may be finished with it in a day or two, which is what I wanted. (Actually, I wanted to be done by last Saturday, but clearly, that didn’t happen.) Anyhow, she’s all closed in, except for the door.

000_1616The interior of this comfortable, spacious chicken chalet is made from 100-year-old vintage pine. The living area features luxury nesting boxes for four, a huge (by chicken standards) window facing the Southwest, upgraded perches for six, and an extra egg door on the North side. Nesting boxes feature a terrific view of the wattle fence and gardens. Truly a luxury poulet pied-à-terre. Don’t let this terrific deal get away! Room and board is free in exchange for eggs.

I started the fence for the run on Sunday night – wood with poultry wire attached. Almost done. Sorta looks neat. Matches the hen house. Now all I need is a door and some chickens. I’ll visit the feed store to find some local leads Monday eve!



Filed under adirondacks


This morning, I spoke to our Adirondack neighbors for quite a while, and my thoughts have turned to genteel planning pursuits.

We’ll be making stuff-runs a few weeks before the RV arrives, so our neighbor very graciously offered to store stuff in her garage, if everything doesn’t temporarily fit in the sheddycabin. The cabin will eventually serve as guest quarters and a work room. Maybe not exactly luxurious to sleep in a cabin full of bookcases, but the double height air bed is eminently comfortable. And it will be nice for guests to have a space of their own.

I think most folks with a dream-and-a-plan start clipping magazine photos years in advance. I found that collecting photos over time really gave me the space to visualize what I want specifically. I’ve taken to calling my preferred “look” Tumbledown-Rustic-Quaint.

insidecabinMost of our furniture will stay with the city house, be sold, or go to the stoop. We will bring some pedestals and plant stands and candle tables (our house here is High Victorian), but the big stuff will stay. Being that the RV is already outfitted with beds and couches and stuff, not much reason to move much more than the essentials. Last Summer, I finished off the cabin with a large standing desk and shelves.

We talked a lot about gardening on the phone today. Maybe not-so-curiously, another neighbor was on his way over with the tiller to dig under and loosen up our good friend’s garden. Gardening and growing a good deal of our own food is one of the things I look forward to most.

raisedbedI’d been thinking that I’d like to make our raised beds from scrap from the old house – just seems right to re-use as much as we can. Thing is, when you’re dealing with a backhoe and bucket, you can’t exactly be guaranteed particular lengths of boards. I ran across this neat plan for the tall raised beds I wanted. It’s just perfect – accommodates my short lengths of wood, and it looks nice. I’ll also add some uprights at the ends with tomato planters on top, so they can vine down. (Hanging tomatoes!)

railfenceA split rail fence along the front of the road and several (dozen) new evergreen plantings should complete things nicely. Curiously, I’m having trouble finding a source for split rain fencing in our area. You would think it would be all over a region full of logging. Have to remember to call a few of the lumber mills to ask about that. I found this photo that is just about exactly what we want the front of the property to look like – a nice wood fence and conifers.

shed-coverAfter talking with some farm friends, we’re going to start the Small Pines Menagerie with just a few chickens, maybe a few ducks. I’m going to have plenty to deal with this season, and we’re going to be away for three days with a show in October, so I don’t want someone to have to look after a goat or somesuch. Chickens will mean getting a decent looking little barn up out back, but that seems easy enough. Past that, my dream of building a cordwood cottage has resurfaced. I think I’m going to do it. Maybe start it out as a shed/extra room and see how it goes. They’re pretty, aren’t they? If it’s under 150 square feet, I don’t need a permit or inspection.

This all should keep me busy enough. Oh, yeah – Remember I mentioned I’d like to write a book, and had been thinking about it for quite a while? Think I might just do that. Add it to the list. But I’m going to keep you in suspense. More on that later.


Filed under Uncategorized

Design on a Dime

Free actually.

If you’re in the middle of any kind of DIY land or construction project, you might fall in love with Google SketchUp. It’s one of those neat three dimensional design programs. And it’s free. There is a learning curve, but it’s super fun. Another check mark in the Excellent Free Programs column for Google.

What I really came here to do was to post some drawings of our “phase one” property plan. There are a lot of reasons that it has to happen this way (location of the septic, existing driveway and curb cut, wetlands). I found I really enjoyed the logic puzzle of it all … what-to-put-where-and-why-it-can’t-go-somewhere-else and such. My favorite inspiration was facing the “front yard” away from the road. I didn’t put in the big trees and such, and I need to add some garden beds, but here are the prelim pics –





Filed under Uncategorized