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Having a cabin in the woods of northern Michigan was always something we aspired to but with a busy family wasn’t exactly a priority or even affordable before 2010. However, in 2010 that dream became a reality. With two of our three kids out of the house, the slower pace made the timing just right. Of course, when things get a little slow for my husband and I we usually don’t add just a little bit of something into our lives – we add a lot!

We could have just easily purchased an existing cabin, moved in and enjoyed. Or, if we had to build, we could have hired a builder. But, we didn’t do either of those. We jumped right in and decided to build this cabin ourselves! Luckily though, we did have a lot of help from some very good friends.

Building Our Cabin

Designing The Floor Plan

The first step in our cabin build was to design the perfect floor plan. To start, we found an existing cabin plan, in a book, that we liked. From there, I redrew the plan using a home planning software program. Once I had the original dimensions in place, I could tweak the design to fit what we needed. Basically, I just bumped out the main floor a little to add a mud area and room for stairs to the walkout basement. I also added a small bump out for a window seat. I’m so glad I took the time to design a floor plan that would work best for us. It was well worth the extra time.

The Construction Process

From drawing up the plans to the final decorating, we enjoyed every minute of it……well almost.  There were certainly some tough times, mainly for my husband.  When you are working on scaffolding, two stories up, it can get kind of harry.  You would never catch me up there—–I’m terrified of heights!

cabin construction

Sometimes I wonder how we ever made it through the construction. My husband and I had never built any kind of home ourselves. The only experience we had was acting a general contractors on other building projects. It definitely helped to be assisted by great friends who had a little more experience! Through the process, we learned a ton. Although we did most of the work ourselves, we did hire out for things like siding, roofing, electrical and plumbing.

The construction process of our cabin took about nine months to complete. All of our good things took nine months to complete!! Of course a cabin isn’t as fantastically wonderful as our three children but it is a nice consolation with the kids leaving the nest. Plus it is now another place of attraction for them – win win!

The Finishing Touches To The Cabin

Once the basic construction was finished, we were on to the finish work. I must say that we used some rather interesting techniques for finishing the floors, walls and vanities. We wanted the cabin to be cost effective and unique at the same time. I think we accomplished both.

Finishing The Walls

My husband absolutely did not want to hang drywall. He had done that before and hated to process. He WAS NOT going to do it again. He wanted to hang plywood on the walls. WHAT??!! I thought that sounded like a terrible idea. My mind went to a seventies den with dark paneling and that was NOT going to work for me. I did put my thinking cap on though and thought maybe we could get a plywood with just the right looking grain and then whitewash it. We could then put up white battens on the seams and have a cool unique look that would contrast with the knotty pine ceiling and trim.

He agreed.

It was a little bit of work wiping on the whitewash pickling stain and then wiping it off but the result was exactly what I had in my head. I was happy!

cabin interior walls


cabin plywood walls

See more of this project at Put Plywood On Walls.

Finishing The Floors

When my husband suggested that we finish the OSB subfloor with polyurethane and have that be it – our finished floor, I thought he had gone off the deep end. I’ll admit I put up some resistance at first. I finally agreed with the stipulation that if it looked terrible, we were going to cover it with regular wood flooring…..and did he really want to put the time and expense into that experiment??

He did.

Much to my delight, and his, we loved how they turned out. Of course, he knew they would turn out great from the start….

cabin finished floors

cabin finished osb floors

You can see all of the details from this project at Finished OSB Flooring.

A Unique Sink Design

When it came to making our own concrete sink for one of the bathrooms, I was all in! It was a pretty easy project that only took a little time, hardly any money and turned out just how we wanted.

cabin homemade sink

Check out the details at Rustic Cabin Bathroom Decor.

Budget Friendly Cabin Decor

A lot of our lighting is unique as well. We brought most of our homemade birch lamps and sconces to the cabin. However, in the dining area of our kitchen we went even a little more unique. We used a vintage kitchen sifter as the shade for our homemade dining light. It gave us kind of a vintage industrial touch to the kitchen.

cabin kitchen light

The rest of the kitchen was also very budget friendly. We decided to customize the cabinet space using Ikea cabinets. It was actually pretty easy to measure, purchase and ultimately put together and install all of the cabinets. I chose a white and birch wood mix and combined stainless steel and butcher block counters for more of the rustic industrial feel.



cabin stairs

We also saved a little money in finishing the staircase ourselves. The railing was made from tree that were cut from clearing our property. My husband had the special tools, including tenon cutters and a circular drill bit, for fitting the logs together. I painted and stained the stair treads and risers. See our finished staircase.

To add just a little extra character, I installed a brick veneer wall in one of the interior walls of the kitchen.

cabin brick wall


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