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Wilderness Homes
Chapter VII - Inside the Cabin


YOUR first care with the interior is to take off the look of newness. There is a charm peculiarly its own about the walls of a log cabin, for even now, untouched as it is, you sense the spirit of the mountain and the lake which has been built into it with every log rolled into place.

The floor needs toning down with a stain (for paint is not permitted inside the cabin), and when you have decided upon what tone you want, do not be persuaded to buy some expensive concoction widely advertised as the best ever at three dollars a gallon. Make it yourself for fifty cents or less and have exactly what you want. A small quantity of oil paint thoroughly mixed in a gallon of kerosene or turpentine will fill the bill exactly. The intensity of the stain is governed by the amount of color used, and the color itself is modified, if too glaring, by the addition of some other color. Thus, raw umber will give a fine brown tone, but if it is too red on trial, add some black or blue or green. This you will agree gives a wide latitude, but in securing a brown or green tone for a room it must be a "tone," and not a decided color. I mention these two colors because of their reminiscent feeling of the woods they seem especially appropriate. Besides, these soft tans and greens are always restful and pleasant to live with. Remember that in a large use of a color it gains in intensity.

After the floor is stained (make your stain very thin) give it a coat of woodfiller, and when this is dry finish either with varnish or wax.

The logs will of their own accord gradually assume a fine gray-brown tone, so that there is practically only the window and door trim requiring their share of the stain.

Simple furniture to fit the situation is desired, and chairs and tables may be readily fashioned from the branches of trees. Care should be taken to select for this purpose such trees as have smooth bark that will cling. A spoke sizer will bring the ends of the sticks down to fit the holes which have been bored to receive them. All the furniture should be put together with glue and in addition a wire nail driven through will keep the whole secure.

Seats and backs for the chairs may be made of skins stretched across, or small sticks may be nailed in place.

Window seats may be fashioned in much the same manner, only now one may make use of these for storage room, and the seat should be hinged on, giving access to the box beneath.

An excellent bed may be easily built, but be sure that you have taken the precaution to measure your spring frame. Springs may be done away with by using the old-fashioned method of "roping" the bed.

In the frame all around the bed bore half-inch holes six inches apart. Take rope of sufficient length and knot one end. Proceed to lace through the holes on opposite sides of the frame, pulling as tightly as possible, then make a temporary hitch. Go back to the first stretch of the rope and stand upon it, now to the next one in front, etc. You will soon take up the slack and the cords will be drawn tight. Fasten with a secure hitch. Now, from the foot to the head, stretch another rope as before, crossing the former work. This makes a good bed. Springs are better.

While the fit is on you there will be found many things to be made. A clock case, woodbox, pipe racks, gun and rod holders, clothes trees, etc., but in all these matters let utility rule. Do not try to overdo the "rustic" appearance of things. Keep them simple and take pride in building them of the fewest pieces possible.

Excellent draperies may be made of the dyed or plain burlaps and these may be made quite handsome with a simple design stencilled upon them. The only trouble to be met with in stenciling is in securing the design.

When this is had, secure a piece of rather stiff heavy paper and cut out the design with a sharp penknife. Resting the paper on a small piece of glass will give a sharp edge to the cut. When the stencil is cut fasten it to the drapery in the position it is to occupy. Have your oil colors ready and also a quantity of gasoline or turpentine, for the color is put in more as a dye than as a surface color. A little experimenting on waste pieces will give you the proper consistency. Use a smallish brush with stiff hairs. An artist's bristle brush about three-fourths of an inch wide is just the thing.

For curtains and thin stuff, as swiss, scrim, etc., use a thin mixture of Diamond Dyes. Unbleached muslin is excellent for stenciling.

Take a small amount of the powder on the end of a teaspoon, wet it with cold water, then add one cup of boiling water and boil for a few minutes.

For crash, etc., use the aniline dyes (or tapestry dyes), but as they are rather dead use some of the Diamond Dyes in addition. Prepare them as above, adding color to get the desired shade.

Permit me just a word here with regard to the "pictures" for the wall. There are people who attempt to adorn their cabin with all manner of cheap lithographs, calendars, and other advertisements. In this day many of our finest out-door pictures are used by various firms for the exploitation of their wares, but in pity's name do not start a "collection" and use your rooms for the exhibition.

There are many portfolios of exquisite out-door pictures that may be purchased reasonably.

With but little work frames may be made for them of pine, which may be stained to accord perfectly with the view. A few of these may be hung, but don't overdo the matter; treat it as if it were your city home in this regard. The logs of the walls are too fine in themselves and hold so much of what we seek in the open that we should try not to hide their charm. There is absolutely no room for the miscellaneous collection of posters, pine cones, college pennants, photographs, post cards, cotillion favors, etc.

Paddles and snowshoes lend themselves easily to the decoration of the rooms, and the introduction of a game head or two, or the mounted big fish that didn't get away, together with fur rugs for the floor, give the last note of the woodsy flavor.

Everything else must be rigorously excluded; thus the "atmosphere" will be preserved genuinely, and the suggestion of a museum never appear.

After the logs have had a seasoning period (and not before) the calked spaces may be ,plastered with white lime. If this seems too glaring when dry, it will take a stain as readily as wood.

Not the least in importance of all the rooms is the kitchen, and considerable time and thought should be given it to secure the best possible results. In your plans you have arranged large windows that will give all the light and air possible. The problem of cleanliness is, however, somewhat difficult of solution in the Log Cabin —there are so many cracks and crevices to attract dust and vermin. In this room it would be best to plaster the cracks with lime mortar, then all the woodwork except the logs, including the shelves, should be given a good application of enameled white paint which may be easily wiped off with a damp cloth and thus be kept clean.

Have the kitchen sink broad and of generous size, with a shelf built at one end slanting toward the sink, so that the water 'from the dishes may drain that way. A plain cast iron sink will do very well and may be put in place by building a frame of the seven-eighths stuff at hand, remembering that the outlet end should be slightly lower, to prevent the water standing in the sink. The sink should be treated from time to time with a wash of hot water and soda or ammonia to keep it clean from deposits of grease.


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