Follow the adventure as we build our log cabin

and finally, we can spend the night…

Here we are in the middle of February and I haven’t posted an update since Thanksgiving?  What?!!  It’s not that we haven’t been working at the cabin every weekend,  it just seems that the holidays, and life in general, sort of got in the way of  my blogging! In an effort to catch you up on what’s been happening, I’ll try to be brief and post mostly pictures.

The doors-

Over a year ago, before construction had even begun, we had taken a trip up to Chantilly, VA where we met Don Jensen of Doors by Don, at the Log and Home show. Having seen his advertisements in several Log Home magazines, we’d already decided that we would most likely order our doors from him, so were very happy to find that he had a booth at the L & H show.  He with him samples of  the different door styles so we were able to check them out first hand and pick out which ones we would use once the cabin was built. By the time we were ready to buy them, however, he had sold the company to Xterior Plus, with the intention of retiring. Lucky for us though, he found retirement a little dull and was back helping out the new owners when Dave made the call to order our doors. Don happily drove the four hours from Wytheville, VA to deliver our doors himself, just as he had promised when we spoke with him way back when in Chantilly.

Next on the to do list, the upstairs shower. I do have to say that I love Dave’s idea to run a band of river stone half way up the wall and inside the soap shelf!

After looking at different hardware options, we decided to go with simple wrought iron handles for the kitchen cabinets. Dave and Max also replaced the door knobs on the pantry with handles to match the rest of the kitchen cabinets… definitely looks better!

With the doors all hung, Dave and Max work on framing the doorways.

With most of the lights already up, Dave and Max work on lighting the stairwell.  Dave found a cute little deer antler light to use at the base of the stairwell and finally, I have somewhere to hang the Kudu horn light I’ve been holding onto for years!


We had been dying to spend our first night at the cabin and finally, by New Year’s eve, the place was far enough along that we could comfortably do so. Megan, Jason, and the boys, had planned to come down to ring in the New Year with us, so we were psyched to have them along as our first overnight guests. We were also joined by Max’s girlfriend, who’s parents were kind enough to allow her to join us!

With most of the finish work done, Dave puts his energy into building a tv stand and a farm table for the dining area. Our new beds had finally arrived as well so we were all set to spend another night to test them out.

It was another few weeks before we were able to get down for  another sleep over…this time, we were joined by cousin Emily.  Erin was unable to make it to spend the night, but she and my sister, Julie, joined us the following day. We lucked out with spring like temperatures for the weekend so were able do a cook out and also go for a little walk around the property, which was especially nice as it was Julie’s first time visiting!

And last but not least, we drove down this past weekend and delivered our living room couches. The place is really starting to feel like home!

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we’re getting close….

The gutters-

We went with Masco Contractor Services for our gutters as they fabricate custom gutters on site, creating seamless gutters that are installed with hidden hangers. They were even able to match our roof color…we were extremely happy with the results!

The return of George and Kris-

With the gutters now in place and a date set to  refinish the upstairs floor, it was time to think about having more gravel brought in and the final grading done outside so we’d stop tracking red mud all over the place. We were super psyched to have George Lewis and Kris Cutter back to discuss our plans for the regrading and to show them what we’ve accomplished in the year since they’d been to see the place.  George had been such an integral part of our project in the early stages and we’d grown pretty attached to him…we’ve really missed having him around on a regular basis!


Counter tops-

We spent quite a bit of time searching through log cabin magazines trying to decide what type of counter tops to put in and in the end decided that we would go with granite, in some shade of black, as we felt we needed something to break up the monotony of the wood tones of the walls, floors and cabinets. We found ourselves rather bored with the usual patterns of granite in stock at most of our local granite stores until we stumbled across a pattern we had seen on line call Black Marinance (or Black Mosaic) and discovered that one of  the larger suppliers in town, Classic Granite and Marble, actually had a few slabs of it in their warehouse. We fell in love with it as soon as we saw it and, though we searched through their entire supply, in the end, that’s what we went with. We were not disappointed by our choice one it was installed!


We’ve had much fun figuring out and finding lighting for the place!  Most of the ceiling lights are attached to the heavy timbers that support the ceiling so a few of the ceiling lights we had picked out had to be returned as we realized they just didn’t look right hanging down from the beams rather than lying flush against the ceiling.


Another decision that took quite awhile to make was the type of hardwood flooring to put down. We found many different type of wood in different shades that we loved, but once we took the samples to the cabin, we realized they just didn’t look right. Some were too light, some had too much variance and looks way too busy once there was a large area covered. After going back and forth with different samples, we decided that a medium toned wood worked best with the walls and our favorite ended up being a hand-scraped, 5″ Walnut Koa. Once we picked out what we were going to use, we had the upstairs floor refinished by Eco Flooring to match.


Dave, in usual fashion, thoroughly researched appliance brands and models and did a price comparison for everything we were interested in purchasing. In the end we decided to order everything from HHGregg as they were able to give us the best deal, matching everyone else’s lowest price and throwing in a $500 gift card as well!

second Thanksgiving-

With Dave’s family all in town for Thanksgiving,  following suit from last year’s second Thanksgiving at the cabin with my family, we took everyone down the day after to check the place out. Rather than haul all of our leftovers down as we did last year, we decided to stop and pick up lunch from our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Caporal. The atmosphere was slightly different from last year when we ate outside around the bonfire, using a microwave we had brought along and powered with the generator in order to heat our food!

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what a difference a year makes…..

So hard to believe a full year has passed since Mr. Lipham and his logging crew, J. M. Log Craftsman, arrived and in 28 days had our cabin completely dried in! We were sure at that time that we would have finished the inside by now. We’re definitely getting close, and a lot has happened since I last posted, but we’re still not there yet.

A year ago:

I believe I left off Labor Day weekend with us having finally finished putting up the tongue and groove walls. The next several weekends were spent sanding, cleaning, staining and putting the finish coat on the entire inside of the place.  For one reason or another, I ended up not being able to go down to help Dave out as he completed these ever so tedious tasks. I confess, I would be lying if I said that I was sorry to have missed out on all that excitement! 😜

 The completed walls upstairs, before the finish coat-

The walls only look slightly different after the stain and finish coat were applied. We went with a natural stain and clear satin finish coat which added only a slight warm tone, a dull sheen and ultraviolet protection to prevent the wood from yellowing over the years.

Just a word of advice to anyone attempting to spray on a finish coat over such a large area- wear long sleeves! Once dry, it is not easily removed. Dave ended up shaving his arms…. yep, I’m still not hating the fact I missed out on all that fun.

About this time, Dave’s folks came down for a visit and were anxious to check out our progress in person. We had just received the new light for the half bath so Dave jumped on the opportunity to finally get in a little father son project as he had Frank help him install the new light over the sink.

With the finish coat finally done, we were then able to put up the kitchen cabinets that had been delivered months ago and had since been lying in boxes waiting to be hung.

With the cabinets in place, next on the agenda was to hang the ceiling fan in the great room while we still had use of the scaffolding that Dave had rented to used for spraying the finish coat.

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and… at long last…the walls are DONE!!!!

So in the end it took three full months, working most every weekend and a few days during the week, before we were finally able to finish putting up the walls! With the help of our good friends, Brian and Lynne Astroth, we finally got the last walls put up over Labor Day week end- the very last little piece of tongue and groove having been put into place on August 30th. (Yes, I’m that far behind on my posts! 😦 )

With Lynne and Brian helping Dave finish the walls, I had to find something else to do. After looking around I realized that we still needed to wire a few of the electrical outlets on the main floor and most of the outlets on the second floor as well, so I donned our “electrical” tool belt and went to work.

Once the walls were finally in place, the next big task was to finish the trim on all the doors and window frames. Dave knocked those out fairly quickly as they were all pretty straight forward. Even the trim around the double wall of windows in the great room proved to be much less of a problem than anticipated!

The arched window in the upstairs bathroom, however, was not straight forward and thus required a little more ingenuity. After mulling it over for a few days though, Dave figured out just how to tackle it.

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seriously, will we ever finish these walls?????

The first floor walls having been a breeze to put up, and given that we now had the process down pat, we were certain that we’d finish the second floor walls within a couple of weekends.  We were wrong.  What we didn’t take into account was the number of angles we’d have to cut due to the slope of the ceilings and number of rafters we’d have to cut around, all of which slowed us down tremendously.  As a result, here it is mid-August and we’re still not finished!

We have made progress however and are very nearly done…

the upstairs bathroom-

Mostly done but still need to trim around the window.

the shower walls-

the great room wall-

With our supply of tongue and groove dwindling rapidly, we decided to go ahead and finish off the wall around the windows in the great room next. If our supply ran out with only closets left to finish, it wouldn’t matter whether or not the new supply was an exact match, but we wanted to be sure that what we used around the windows matched the rest of the great room walls.


sanding the stair-rail and loft support beam-

The following weekend, we made yet another stop at the Petersburg Home Depot to replenish our supply of wood for the window and door trim before heading down to the cabin.  Once there, Max and I take on the oh-so monotonous task of sanding the loft support beam and stair-rail while Dave works on some of the more intricate walls in Max’s room.

finishing Max’s room-

Once the stair-rail was back in place, Max  and Dave went back to the task of trying to finish off Max’s room. Unfortunately, we ended up running out of tongue and groove halfway through the final closet wall and had to quit for the day. In initially calculating how much we would need to complete the entire cabin, we hadn’t accounted for the waste that would be created with all the angled pieces we had had to cut.  Fortunately, Dave found a place in Petersburg that sells eight inch tongue & groove and the following weekend we were able to pick up more, rather than having to place another order to be shipped from out of state. (Most places locally only carry 6″ boards.)

on to the guest room-

Having finished Max’s room at last, we moved on to the guest room where we finished up last weekend with all but the knee wall doors and a little trim left to do.



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raccoons, mastiffs and BEARS….oh my!!!!!

Dave discovered, today, that we’ve had a new visitor at the cabin some time in the past three days….

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walls, walls and more walls….and a little fun with the fam as well!

Having finished the main walls downstairs, we moved onto the upstairs walls this past week. We now have the tongue and groove up on at least one side of each of the rooms so can now get a much better idea of what the finished cabin will feel like…and yes, we are loving it!

Feeling very pleased with our progress thus far, we took a break from building over the weekend to relax and have a little fun while my brother and his family were visiting.  They hadn’t seen the place since last Thanksgiving so we were anxious to show them how much we’d accomplished since their last visit.

After checking out the inside of the cabin, we headed outside to take advantage of the beautiful day.  Burgers, hobo pies, ATVs and a little swim in the lake…I do believe a good time was had by all.

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and the rooms begin to take shape

The past two weekends, we’ve turned our attention to putting up the tongue and groove walls on the first floor of the cabin. It’s been great fun to see the rooms finally take shape! Max even joined us on Father’s Day and pitched in…what better time for such a father/son activity as Dave passing on his vast knowledge of construction and the use of power tools to his son?!

the entrance way

the living room

the master bedroom and bath

in which Max comes along to lend us a hand…

the stairwell

the laundry room

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the evolution of our toilet facilities….

As a child growing up in Africa, my family and I spent many a vacation roughing it, while out on safari, with no bathroom facilities aside from the great out doors.  If not camping, we were traveling to other destinations in the third world where toilets were not quite the modern facilities we were accustomed to at home. As a result, I can pretty much use anything available to me when necessary, but I gotta tell you, I am completely thrilled to finally have a working, indoor toilet at the cabin!

And for your viewing pleasure, so that you can get the full effect…

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spraying the insulation

With the outside staining finally complete, we have now moved our attention to the inside of the cabin.  First on the agenda was to have insulation sprayed on all the outer walls of the second floor and any other areas that may be in need of protection against drafts.  After getting a few quotes, Dave ended up choosing to go with the team from Creative Conservation as they were reasonably priced and were completely upfront about what they thought we would need without over selling.  We were very happy with the choice and would definitely use them again should we ever need to.

The crew arrived to find the work sight covered in a giant bed of sticky red mud. It had been raining the evening before and on into the morning so, in an effort to prevent tracking the mud into the cabin, they laid down a path of plastic from the truck to the front door. A hose was then lain on top of the plastic path, and on into the cabin. Tanks inside the truck contained two different chemical solutions that were mixed together and then  transported through the hose and into guns that the men used to shoot the liquid insulation onto the walls. The solution, once it has left the gun, immediatly expands and begins to harden, creating a solid layer of insulation as well as an air tight seal.