Have you ever dreamed of getting away from it all, for real? What would it be like to say goodbye to civilization and head into the back woods to start a new life? One man decided to do just that and the results are shocking.
When a retired math teacher named Richard decided to build his dream house in the remote wilderness, his friends thought he’d finally gone off the deep end. But the calculating retiree set his sights on a $100 log cabin that was literally falling apart, and all the pieces of his dream began to take form.
After plunking down a hundred bucks to the owner of the dilapidated mess, Richard was shocked to find the inside of the one-room hut full of dead trees, animal nests, and giant boulders leftover from the old foundation. The so-called “log cabin” was really just a huge mess enclosed in a barely-standing wooden shell.
Because most of the wood was rotted through, the foundation was shot, and the cabin was not habitable, Richard decided that he’d have to start from scratch. He first had to evict a family of squirrels that had taken up residence in the old place. Then he set out to restore it completely.
Richard wanted to use as much of the original lumber as possible, so he salvaged a couple hundred pieces, took dozens of photos of the original structure’s shell and design, and entered everything in his workbook.
The surrounding wilderness area looks like something off a postcard: it’s truly stunning, surrounded with gigantic trees, rolling hills, and clear blue skies. The nearest town is more than 50 miles away. There could be no better spot on earth for escaping the modern rat race.
After finding a natural spring while he was digging nearby, Richard decided to enlist his family’s help. They dug with shovels and even brought in a small bulldozer to cut out a space for the water to flow into. Now the property’s front wall looks out onto a large pond that is filled by the spring. They even built their own dock right on the water.
The mathematician and amateur builder had his work cut out for him, in more ways than one. He used his notebooks and woodworking knowledge to begin the long job of restoring the rustic log cabin to its former backwoods glory. All those old boards came in handy, and not a usable piece of the old lumber was wasted.
Bedrock was just a few feet below the surface, so Richard decided to “lift up” the cabin’s base and build it above ground level. This meant he’d have to work even harder to retain the original flavor and look of the cabins 1800’s appearance.
He poured a simple concrete basement, added a functional porch, and made roof shingles from nearby cedar trees. The original cabin remained, but it was now spiffed up and finally started to look like a habitable structure. But there was still plenty of hard work ahead.
The family wanted an old-fashioned fireplace to match the era of the original cabin, which they figured was the early 1800s. They installed a Rumford hearth, which was common in early America, and it instantly became the focal point of the interior living space.
The family found a very large tree that had fallen in the nearby woods and decided to use it to create a natural staircase. The oak steps were carefully cut, sanded and finished. Now, they lead the way directly to the “upstairs” sleeping loft.
Richard and his family drew up plans for windows and doors, again matching the historical era. A professional carpenter took their plans and created these essential elements of the cabin.
Now the cabin’s central space includes several chairs, the fireplace, a stack of logs for burning, a long wooden table, and other creature comforts.
Even though Richard wired the cabin for electricity, he made sure to install an old-fashioned chandelier that holds several large candles. There are also a couple windows on the roof peak to let sunlight in.
The loft is a makeshift bedroom that includes nothing more than an enormous mattress and a skylight. This addition allows the once-tiny cabin to serve as a home away from home.
The cabin’s hearth does double-duty as a source of heat and a cooking area. Whoever originally lived here likely had a similar arrangement for heating and cooking. The 1800s were a much simpler time, when daily life was hard but uncomplicated.
It took a full decade for Richard to get the place looking the way he wanted it. By 2013, he finally reached his goal. The cabin is now fully functional, has water and electricity, and resembles the original structure in many ways.
Richard and his family are still doing touch-up work on the exterior of the cabin, but the interior completed to their satisfaction. They spend vacation time there and have come to think of the once-dilapidated cabin as a real home.
Richard’s dream about having a remote cabin in the wilderness is now a reality. He and his family spend a lot of time and money making that dream happen but they are glad they did.
Now the former number-cruncher’s permanent home is a stunning piece of wooden architectural art that is the envy of anyone who ever entertained the notion of chucking it all and moving to the woods.
It’s a wilderness hideaway that combines comfort, class, nature and old-fashioned living. Maybe there’s a $100 cabin out there waiting for you!