We Bought a Cabin!

October 14, 2019

A-frame style chalet in the woods.

We bought a cabin! Wow. Well, it’s not really a cabin, it’s more of a chalet or a mountain house or an almost-a-frame. It’s pointy and it’s in the woods on a mountain by a lake. And we kept it a secret until now. It almost didn’t happen (a few times), but that’s another story.

Through the whole process, with each hiccup, we kept asking ourselves where this plan came from, how we started at a conversation about our future in our current home and ended with the decision to stay here and buy a second home. It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I’ve definitely woken up feeling like I’ve made a huge mistake, but I’ve also been so energized by the idea of this house.

So why did we take this leap, what are we even doing?

  • Having a vacation home, a place in the woods, has been a dream of ours.
  • If we choose a home in a popular vacation spot, we could Airbnb* it to offset the costs and even make money from it.
  • Investing in real estate could yield more of a return than a savings account and sounds a lot more fun.
  • In the words of Julia and Chris Marcum: don’t wait.
  • I manage my anxiety about the state of the world by preoccupying myself with projects and if everything goes under, maybe the safest place is a cabin in the woods.

*Real estate investors snapping up affordable housing to Airbnb in big cities is a growing problem. We feel ok about Airbnbing this property in this specific neighborhood because it is largely second homes and seasonal rentals and was priced accordingly. Seasonal visitors help support the area’s economy.

The idea of this cabin sparked something in my brain. And my brain hasn’t been so active, so completely creatively obsessed (we say that word all the time but it’s always hyperbole, but honestly, it’s all I could think about) in what feels like too long. The stimulus that is this cabin dream awoke a part of my brain that’s been in a solid snooze for months, probably since we made over our bedroom for the last ORC.

The idea of buying a second home where we could entertain friends and family, get away, enjoy nature, and offer that same experience up to others through short term rentals was too enticing for my brain to leave alone.

And I have to say that the internet plays a role – we all fell hard and had our hearts broken along with the ChrisLovesJulia and their A-frame cabin, and I watch Kim and Scott of Yellow Brick Home renovate their treehouse (and their new two-flat project) with admiration. Alison of Deuce Cities Henhouse has been sprucing up her extremely sweet, cozy lakeside cabin. I’ve been glued to watching John and Sherry of YoungHouseLove‘s Cape Charles duplex renovation and am always in awe of The Grit and Polish and how they’ve retired in their 30s, supported by their rental properties. And I can’t not mention Emily Henderson‘s incredible Mountain House, which is like a more grand version of our pointy house.

What we wanted was an A-frame or cozy cabin with good bones, room for improvement, with a view of something worth looking at. With all this rolling around in our heads, we found an a-frame-ish chalet on a mountain by a lake I went to every summer with my family growing up. What got us hooked on this home was the exterior and THAT VIEW of the mountains. The interior is very nicely kept – this is certainly not a gut job – but pretty bland/standard/builder grade with lots of warm knotty pine and walls painted builder-beige.

Tell me more about that house.

The house has 2 floors with a loft. There are 2 private bedrooms (the kind with doors, walls, and ceilings) and an opportunity for an open bed area in the loft. It has 2 full bathrooms, one is an ensuite attached to the main bedroom, the other is in the basement. The loft has its own powder room and there’s another off the kitchen on the main floor. Outside the home are a firepit, outdoor shower, and sauna.

It was built in 2004 and is at the top of a mountain ridge that overlooks the lake. Our new house does not have a lake view (the homes on the other side of the street do) but we really love that mountain view. The house sits in a wooded development near a boat launch attached to a large, manmade lake.

So what’s the plan?

We know what we want the end goal to be in the broadest sense – we want to create a space that has the comforts of home but that feels like somewhere different. Our timeline is loose because we don’t want to stress ourselves out and because life has brought us some surprises: see my health update I hid in my last Friday Catch Up post. It would be amazing to wrap everything up by the time peak rental season arrives (May-August 2020) but we just aren’t going to rush it. We can and will enjoy this home as it is right now.

Oh, and did I mention that the house came with month-to-month tenants? The former owners of our home rented the house to their friends and neighbors who are building a new home across the street. The tenants have run into a lot of issues with the build of their new home and have ended up needing to stay at our house longer than they’d hoped. Although this means we don’t yet have free use of the house, we really appreciate the way they are caring for and watching out for the house. We know they want to get out of our new house and into their new house ASAP.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have content to share! I’m gonna share more photos of the home and some trusty SketchUp floorplans so you can get the full picture. And I’m still thinking through the style of this home – I’ve been collecting tons of inspiration images on my Cabin Pinterest board. And once we’ve chosen a direction, you bet there will be mood boards.

This house needs a name.

We’ve been collecting name ideas for MONTHS with no clear winners. But it really needs one both because every house should have a name and because you bet it’ll have its own IG account and hashtag.

And why didn’t we invest in fixing up another old house?

We live in a 1929 home full time and we love it. It is full of charm and surprises and we wouldn’t have it any other way. For our vacation home, we wanted something that felt different and required less of the blood, sweat, and tears that an old house demands (and is worth). But don’t worry, there are more old houses in our future.

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  • Reply Jesseca October 14, 2019 at 10:29 am

    I can’t wait to follow along!

  • Reply Alison @ Deuce Cities Henhouse October 14, 2019 at 10:54 am

    So exciting! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Having a cabin has been a really great way of resetting and taking a break for our fam, I’m sure it will be for you guys too. We always refer to ours as “A-frame-ish” too, but I might have to give “pointy house” a try.

    • Reply thesweetbeast October 15, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Thank you, Alison! I can’t believe I forgot to mention your cabin in my post, it’s one of my favorites and everything you do to it is perfection. Thanks for getting me obsessed with wanting a cabin of my own!

  • Reply Marti October 14, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! Super excited for you, and for me to get to read sweet blog content in the months to come. Congratulations!

    • Reply thesweetbeast October 15, 2019 at 1:25 pm

      <3 Thank you, Marti! I'm so excited for all the projects I have cooked up in my brain.

  • Reply Sarah Wissinger October 15, 2019 at 6:47 am

    This is amazing, Emily! Can’t wait to follow along! Congrats!

    • Reply thesweetbeast October 15, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      Thank you, Sarah! We feel super lucky and so excited to share all our projects!

  • Reply Cathy October 18, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Eeek! So excited for you guys! And for us to watch you make this cabin yours. And hopefully you guys find landlording to be fulfilling (or at least lucrative ).

  • Reply Candace November 1, 2019 at 11:27 am

    This resonates “I manage my anxiety about the state of the world by preoccupying myself with projects,” as after a particular political change, I found myself hibernating and wanting to only be home!

    In other news, I vote The Sweet Chalet (or Beast Chalet? …. that could be a 70s porno though)

  • Reply Dianne November 19, 2019 at 6:06 am

    “Respite” : Your home away from home to rebuild your spirit.

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