Sunday, November 11, 2018

Rustic Cabin Thanksgiving

With the onset of the cabin project I have come to love rustic decor more than I ever dreamt I would.  Before the cabin, it wasn't really my thing.  Now I can't wait to get started on the planning and design of the rest of the house (that will attach to the cabin some day), retire, move there, and be mountain rustic every day.

Until then, I will have to be satisfied with spending vacations and holidays there, and if regular rustic decorating has turned out to be loads of fun, rustic holiday decorating has turned out to be truckloads of fun.  

So far we spent last Thanksgiving at the cabin (can't wait to spend Christmas there and launch into Rustic Christmas) ...below are some highlights of what our first cabin Thanksgiving looked like...

Lots of texture and simple details...

My mom's dishes are now the cabin dishes and using them brings back many memories of every day meals and Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. Another reason to love being at the cabin.

The stag flatware was a Bass Pro purchase, not a place I would normally consider for decor, but I was trying to use up a gift card, and at the time these were perfect for our 5th wheel trailer.  Now they are perfect in the cabin.

Lot's of natural elements (real and fake) on the table and the cabin in general.  

This guy was also my mom's.  He sat on her fireplace mantle for years and was usually featured in her holiday decorating.

Sadly the pine cones from our pinon trees are small, squashed-looking little things and just don't work well for pine cone decorations.  I'm sure I got the pine cones on the table from a craft store...kind of silly for someone who owns 15 acres of pinon-juniper woodland, but the conifers with the nice looking pine cones are at higher elevations here. 

Being at the cabin makes us both so thankful that we took this enormous leap of faith (or off a cliff, as it seemed sometimes) and bought this special piece of property.  

I can't imagine now not having this place in our lives... something to be thankful for every day...


I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!


Most likely linking to the following this week....

That DIY Party at DIY Showoff
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings
Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Bouquet of Talent at Life on Lakeshore Drive
Happiness is Homemade at Ducks 'N a Row
DIY Salvaged Junk Projects at Funky Junk Interiors
Sundays at Home at Celebrating Everyday Life

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Finishing the Deck

We've been back to the cabin several times over the past few months to work on a few lingering projects and to actually have a relaxing, do-nothing vacation in our recently completed cabin.

Although the first trip in July had less do-nothing and more project work than I would have liked.

One of the last major tasks we needed to complete (or I should say my husband needed to complete) was the deck.  I talked about the deck design here in this post.

The original design included a wrap around section that extended to the kitchen door on the south end of the cabin.   

We decided to eliminate that when we got into the actual deck construction since ultimately the rest of the larger house will connect to our little cabin at the south end-- so it seemed that, when we finally got to it, building a section of deck at that end of the cabin would be a waste of money and time. 

Here is a photo of the mostly finished deck-- for some reason, I didn't get any photos of the construction process.  

The original illustrative rendering of the deck sported rather boring spindles for the deck railing (the design software didn't offer a lot of options for spindles)-- and no railing on the west end.


I had originally proposed to my husband that we use tree branches from our property to form the spindles for the deck railing (see what this looks like here).  He was most unenthusiastic about this idea because of the large amount of custom fitting and installation required by using random, free-form tree branches.

We arrived at a happy compromise when we found these nice aspen poles at a local hardware store.  The branches were uniform enough to make installation quite easy, but rustic enough to give the deck character.  

We are both very happy with the results and I can't wait to complete the finishing touches, which include--  

buying a shorter propane tank to replace the too-tall one that pops up above the deck surface, 

finish the step into the cabin, 

buy some nice outdoor furniture to replace the ugly plastic folding chairs, 

create a nicer, more finished outdoor grill area to replace the Weber, 

add a 'skirt' to hide the supporting piers and gaping space under the deck, 

do some landscaping...

I may have gotten carried away with using all the fun plant symbols in my design program when creating the various renderings of the deck.  I love the lushness of densely placed plants but am a little worried about the fire hazard of all those plants right next to the deck.  So, perhaps more sparsely placed native plants around the deck, when we get around to it.

Adding a deck resulted in an amazing transformation--  We now have an outdoor living space that is almost as big as the interior of the cabin.  We've already had a little impromptu family get-together out there and I now have a new cabin-habit of going out onto the deck with my coffee first thing in the morning and again just before bed at night (in my pajamas) to look at the view...

The other task that has been hanging over my head for the past few years was painting the outside window and door casings, as well as the trim on the cabin siding.    

This was my job, and it was much scarier to climb way up there to get to the eaves than I ever dreamt it would be.  In order to reach the window casings and trim pieces at the peak of the roof at each end of the cabin, we had to place that red ladder you see in the photo below onto our trailer (west end, with the triple windows) or Dodge tailgate (east end, with the door). Not fun.  Not when a roaring wind is shaking the ladder like mad and nearby clouds are raining down thunder and lightening.

We also hung the Swedish blinds that I made.  I'll talk more about what Swedish blinds are and how to make them in a future post, but for now I'll say that I am very pleased that they actually roll up quite smoothly when we pull on the cords...I was a little skeptical about the screw-eye arrangement shown in all the tutorials. 

We introduced a vintage-style pig sign to the kitchen...

While we worked and sweated in the July heat, the dogs hung out in the bathroom where it was nice and cool.  The pebble floor in the shower is a favorite spot for both dogs and usually Dolly crowds in with Rosie, who always manages to get in there first.  

Little do either of them know that this is where Baths are going to happen. 

There was some relaxation and fun.  We finally got to see the Fourth of July parade in Torrey-- every other visit to the cabin in July was strictly a working vacation.  No time for fun stuff like parades. 

We did some sightseeing in Capitol Reef National Park.  This is the Fruita Schoolhouse, which was built in 1896 and served not only as a school for the children of the settlers in the area, but also, when needed, a community center and a church meeting house.

According to the interpretive sign, the last class was taught in 1941.  As you can see in the photos in the sign below (and the photo above), the room was quite small. Imagine trying to concentrate on your lessons while all that rugged wilderness beckoned from the windows...

I picked some apricots with my sister in the historic orchards at Fruita in Capitol Reef National Park.

I also started a cabin-travel journal.  I started an online watercolor course last year (still need to finish), and sketching in a journal is a great way to loosen up and practice...

That's it for now.  I will be sharing more cabin-related posts in the coming months....I know its been a while since I posted anything.


Thanks for visiting!


Most likely linking to the following this week....

Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch
Bouquet of Talent at Life on Lakeshore Drive
Share Your Cup Thursday at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Happiness is Homemade at Ducks 'N a Row

Sunday, February 18, 2018

How I Put the Wilderness Into Dancing Dog Cabin

I've been slowly reading my way through Cabinology by Dale Mulfinger, which is a book about designing and building your own cabin.  In the beginning he refers to people who have a connection on some level to cabins and a 'hunger for some form of wilderness place' as 'cabinists'.

I am a cabinist.  I didn't realize this until I got serious about planning our cabin, after my husband convinced me that we should buy a piece of property in some remote place and build a cabin on it (and after I got over my misconception that all cabins must be loggy, brown dark caves filled with sad, old, cast-off furniture).

I am a cabinist, and this place, Yosemite, is the reason why.  

I should have known that I have been a cabinist all along.  I've been coming to Yosemite for as long as I can remember.  

My mom first brought me here when I was 3 or 4.  

We spent countless summers in one of the simple little cabins that used to be by the Merced River in the Yosemite Valley, before they were washed away by floods in the '90s.  We went on multiple backpacking trips into the high country surrounding the valley.  

That's me and my brother at Glacier Point.

I hiked to the top of Nevada Falls.  I hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls.  

My husband, my stepson, and I hiked to the top of Half Dome with my brother, who wanted to celebrate his 50th birthday by sitting on the edge of the sheer 'half' of the dome (see photo below) and dangle his feet several thousand feet over the valley floor. 

I didn't actually get to the top; I stopped when I saw the cables going up the seemingly near-perpendicular face  (click here if you want to see this fearsome sight),  which is a good thing because it meant I wasn't there to witness my brother's lunacy. 

The deep hush of the forest, the faint echo of the falls that follows you wherever you are in the valley (if it  has been a good year for rain, and plenty of water is coming down out of the high country), the warm, piny scent, the scolding of the jays-- with every trip to Yosemite, all this established itself as layer upon layer of wilderness sensibility deep in my subconscious...and then found its way out into the plans and design of our cabin in Utah.

When I talk about our cabin, whether it be through this blog or elsewhere, I often get the same reaction from people: happy enthusiasm and something like longing.  I suspect they are cabinists too, either living in, or planning, or dreaming of their own cabin to escape to.

So, if you have a cabin on your mind, read on to see how a lifetime of visits to Yosemite National Park spoke to me as I planned and decorated the cabin...and see how you also might do the same thing with your own experiences in some wild, natural place, whether you have your own cabin that you want to create and decorate or just want to incorporate a few rustic, wilderness touches into your home (click here for more details on the finished cabin).

I talked a little bit about how much the lodges, cabins, and other buildings in Yosemite National Park were an inspiration for the cabin here, but I didn't have a lot of good photos to share at the time.   When I was there last fall with my family I was able to get pics of all my favorite places...which includes not only the beautiful scenery, but the amazing structures that the National Park Service built in the first part of the 20th century, and which are all very fine examples of rustic decor and architecture.


A quick note on the names I use in this post for two iconic establishments in Yosemite Valley (Ahwahnee Hotel and Camp Curry Village); I'm using the old names established at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century that the National Park service has recently changed (hopefully temporarily) because of a ridiculous lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by a previous concessionaire over a trademark licensing and intellectual property dispute (click here for more info on this)


Starting with the Ahwahnee Hotel-- this place certainly epitomizes the concept of a dinner jacket in the jungle (or in this instance, in the wilderness). 

The Ahwahnee is very grand and provides a level of luxury that the other accommodations in the valley do not, and while it was not, and is not, our goal to create some kind of uber-luxurious, overblown, mega cabin, I did want to capture the same rustic comfort and style in our cabin that can be found throughout this very special place.  But in a slightly more modest way!

When I was searching (and searching and searching) for furnishings for the cabin, I kept in mind all of the wonderful furniture that can be found throughout the public rooms here.  Much of the furniture consists of new pieces made to look like the original furniture by Stickley and D.R. Dimes during major renovations in 2011 (I believe they may have restored some of the original pieces that were in storage).  Furnishings, textiles, light fixtures, and other details  reflect an Arts-and-Crafts, mountain lodge style.

Although, I think they have added newer furniture in recent years since the renovations to accommodate more people; lounge and lobby areas are open to everyone (not just hotel guests), and these rooms can get very crowded.    

It looks like the hotel staff have just crammed in as many chairs and sofas as possible in the main lounge area.  Not much furniture staging going on here...

During the winter, when it's snowy outside and all the fires are going inside, competition is very fierce for one of those chairs by the massive fireplace.  

All these over-sized, comfy armchairs to flop down into after a long hike and charming little side tables to set your drink or your hot chocolate on!  

I had all this in my head when I visualized the furnishings for the cabin...

Which is why I snapped up this spindle table the minute I saw it at a local antique mall. 

And likewise this Eastlake table-- I grabbed it as soon as I saw it.  Both pieces are perfect bedside tables for our cabin that evoke another era, similar to the effect of the interiors and furnishings found in the Ahwahnee Hotel.   

This vintage mirrored oak cabinet also had simple, woodland-inspired details that reminded me of the furniture in the Ahwahnee.

One of the first things we do whenever we visit Yosemite Valley is have breakfast in the Ahwahnee's breathtaking dining room...

...preferably sitting at one of the tables by the huge, dramatic windows... each one with a view of surrounding meadows and woods and towering granite cliffs.  

By the way, that is not us sitting by the window, although that is my brother's elbow in the foreground (as you can see, he survived his Half Dome escapade).

We put lots of tall windows in our cabin in order to capture our own spectacular views.  And yes, breakfast here is just as special, if not more so (because of all the hard labor it took us to get to this point), as it is at the Ahwahnee!

So many other details throughout the hotel that I never get tired of looking at...

For anyone who wants to decorate their cabin (or put a few rustic cabin elements in their home), the Ahwahnee Hotel is the very best example of how to select and use furniture, materials, finishes and a range of other details that reflect a mountain sensibility that is both rustic and refined.  The way they mixed in Native American and Arts & Crafts elements  and antiques (and antique reproductions) adds another layer of decorative interest and complexity.


If the Ahwahnee is rustic elegance, then Camp Curry, located on the eastern side of Yosemite Valley, is rustic camp-style. 

I love these tree limb chairs and tables in the main lounge, but long to get rid of that ugly, pea-soup green vinyl covering on the cushions and replace it with a fun, pretty fabric (perhaps something similar to the fabric on the pillow to the left of the Eastlake table in the previous photo of our cabin).  

When looking for armchairs for our cabin, I checked out a couple of places that carry tree branch furniture (is that the correct term?), but even the cheap stuff is very expensive.  Perhaps one day making a couple of these can be another project for my husband...

I would have loved to finish the exterior of the cabin with rough-hewn branches and bark (or whatever that is below the windows in the photo below-- it may be branches), but we also needed to consider fire safety (and pay attention to the budget), so we went with fiber cement siding.   

But the effect is so charming on the Camp Curry bungalows and cabins.

This is a cabin with bath... which is what I wanted for our visit last September...

... but this is not what I got because I unfortunately waited too long to make reservations, and all I could get was a tent cabin with no heat and no bathroom-- not exactly glamping

I don't recommend the unheated tent cabins if you are planning on visiting Yosemite Valley in the fall or winter.  Tent cabins get cold without any heat; I ended up grabbing all of the wool blankets from the other beds in our cabin and piling them on our bed.

A lot of the elements that we used in our cabin was on the camp-y end of the cabin decorating spectrum, similar to Camp Curry, fused with a little bit of farmhouse and salvaged industrial, with antiques, or near-antiques with a  vintage charm similar to the furnishings in the Ahwahnee adding a bit more refinement. 

Like the cabins and tents at Curry, our cabin focuses on simple living that is just one step above camping, but with just enough creature comforts (hot and cold running water, basic stove/oven/refrigerator, full bathroom, electricity, heat) to make our experience there more comfortable than roughing it in a tent.

I have many happy memories of hiking and camping not only in Yosemite Valley and the surrounding high country, but also in rural, natural areas near my home in southern California and the red rock mesas and canyons near our cabin in Utah. 

There is nothing more restorative to an over-busy mind and stressed-out psyche than being surrounded  by untouched nature where all you hear is the the chattering of birds and the wind in the trees and the sound of running water...

Adding a few woodland details to our cabin brings the wilderness inside... and creates a special place to escape to and relax.

It was my experiences in Yosemite as well as my husband's experiences camping with his family that drove us to purchase 15 acres on a high, wooded mesa in the spectacular San Rafael Swell area of Utah and build our cabin on it.  

We wanted to create a place that was a reminder of happy times spent camping, hiking, fishing, and being, however briefly, disconnected from the drudgery of the every-day.  We needed our own piece of wilderness beauty; a quiet place of peace and relaxation that was a sanctuary from our high-speed lives.

What about you?  Don't you want to escape too?


Thanks for visiting!


Most likely linking to the following this week....

Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch
Happiness is Homemade at Ducks 'N a Row
DIY Salvaged Junk Projects at Funky Junk Interiors

I've been featured at the following blogs...

Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings