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Wilderness Homes
Chapter I - Making Plans

PLANNING the woods home is a period of considerable pleasure. Everything about it will suggest the forest and the remote lake, where the big trout hide, and the deer come down in the evenings to feed on the tender grasses at the water's edge. It brings that great season near to which we look forward year after year from the city home.

The pleasure thus afforded is, however, but part of the satisfaction, for, guided by a sure knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of the subject, your plans will save you an infinite amount of work and time when the building operations actually begin. Then if one is careful to erect it in a commanding position, and will take the necessary care to adjust it to the surroundings, the resulting harmony and utility will be a source of constant satisfaction.

In the matter of fitting the cabin to the site, you have a tremendous advantage over the builder of structures for other situations than the woods. So long as you stick to the one-story or story-and-a-half building you are safe, for the log cabin will belong to its place as surely as if it grew there. After all, are not the bowlders gathered on the ground where the future cabin is to stand and the logs felled in the encompassing forest? There is nothing new about it; chameleon-like, with a simple touch of stain on the roof, it will take on the color of its surroundings, particularly if you, as the builder, do not get in the way. Let the material of the building show frankly for what it is. Let each part do its work honestly, and you need not fear for the attractiveness of your home. Its success will be measured not by its size nor by its architecture after all, but by its comfort.

Fortunately there will be an outlook from every room, and we can let the light and air in from every side. The living room, with its high ceiling, will be given the choice of views, and we will call this the front of the house. In order to get all the out-of-doors possible into the house, plan for windows that are long rather than high.

Consider them as frames for the view, and while many windows are desirable, yet you must not forget that furniture of a sort must come into the calculation. Many a room has been built with no space left for the bed. It is commonly said that a house cannot have too many windows, but a great number of windows does not necessarily insure the greatest amount of light, nor the best ventilation. But then again, in the woods, you will be surprised how dark the surrounding trees will make your camp.

Casement windows lend themselves very well to our style of architecture, and whenever they are used, should invariably open out. However, it is almost impossible to make them wind and stormproof, and they are always ,clashing with the screens.

Whenever possible, bring the chimney into the center of the house, to insure a. more even distribution of the heat, and also make possible the connection from adjoining rooms with stoves, should the occupancy of the camp in fall or spring make these desirable.

For a similar reason, arrange your kitchen so that it can be absolutely shut off from the rest of the camp when desired. On very warm days in the woods, when the gentle zephyrs play around the tree tops but forget to come lower down, you will get the point of this argument. Be sure to look up the regular sizes of windows and doors that are furnished the trade. from the factories, so that you can make the proper allowances.

Keeping the building down to one story will make the labor of construction comparatively easy, and the care of the house will for the same reason be made much lighter. This will give you considerable space overhead for storage, or even sleeping rooms. However, plan to save your living room all the space clear to the roof. Such an air of largeness and comfort is to be gained thereby, with the only drawback of a difficulty of heating, though with even a moderate fireplace a room eighteen by twenty feet, with a twenty-foot peak, may be kept thoroughly comfortable except in the bitterest cold of the northern winters.

The veranda will be the most-used part of the house during the summer season. It should, therefore, be made generous in its width—ten feet is not too wide—and as long as conditions will admit of. Thus all the family may occupy it at one time, and during the very hot days, when eating out-of-doors is a luxury, it will be turned into a dining room far more attractive than any you could plan.

On a wide veranda hammocks may be swung without their excluding large and comfortable chairs, and here, even on a rainy day, one will scarcely be forced indoors. But if so, the chances are that the chill dampness will make a fire desirable. You will not suffer a loss with the exchange.

Set the windows of the sleeping rooms about four feet from the floor. It is curious how much of an added sense of security and privacy this will give. For there are those who feel uncomfortable in sleeping for the first time on the ground floor.

Measure carefully every inch of the way in your plan, and consider well the utility of every space; thus you will not find yourself cramped for room, and, on the other hand, you may save yourself considerable expense of labor and money.

You are not an architect, so be modest, and do not strive for architectural effects. Confine yourself altogether to ascertaining how few rooms you can get along with, and how to get those rooms to fit into the given space, so that each one will be large enough to fill the requirements. That is all.

When the plans are satisfactory, you will make out a list of things required and send your order for them at the earliest possible moment. Two months before needed would not be too soon in the South, six weeks in the North and West. This is not figurative language. I know of what I am speaking. Your list will look like this:

Number of logs needed.
Number of windows and sizes. (Include if possible frames, finish, and casings.)
Number of doors and sizes. (Include if possible frames, and finish.)
Amount of lumber for roofing and first floor, also veranda. (This may be the cheapest grade of spruce, planed on one side.)
Amount of hard pine flooring, two and a half inches wide, planed both sides.
Number of shingles. (Extra 1, cedar.)
Hinges for various purposes.
Round-headed screws for window casings.
Screws for all the hardware.
Window fasteners.
Wire nails. Lath for shingles. Tenpenny for roof and floor boards, etc. Finish for windows, doors, etc. Spikes for rafters, etc. Eightpenny floor for flooring.
Building paper.
Creosote stain.
Number of barrels of lime.
Iron supports for fireplace arch.
Sheet lead for chimney.
Sink and short lead pipe for drain.
Firebricks for lining chimney.

Plans for the smaller "Hunting Camp" will require much less material than above. However, I should advise a careful study of your requirements even in this case, so that time may be saved when you have reached the ground and are ready for business.

The pitch of the roof is important, and particularly in regions of heavy snowfall. A fairly steep roof is therefore desirable, both to lessen the strain and to prevent the snow water from being backed up under the shingles when a thaw is followed by a freezing period.

Over the bedrooms and kitchen, etc., a floor of hard pine, planed on both sides, may be laid, and this will always give you considerable space in which to stow things, or, as mentioned elsewhere, may be turned into a sleeping room, with spaces between the floor and the roof on either side of the room partitioned off for storage.

Avoid hip roofs if possible, though occasionally, in a rather long stretch, they may be used to lessen the monotony. Try to keep the whole structure under one continuous roof, for the sake of economy of time and money. The construction of a hip or a valley roof is not difficult, but they present features that require care in building that they may be water-tight and strong.

The matter of rustic effects in the porch railings, etc., is one allowing a wide latitude to your inventive faculties, and the entire outside of the camp may be given a special stamp of individuality by a proper handling. In regions where white birch may be obtained, one could ask for no finer decoration.

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