We’re settling into fall here. The day time temps are hovering at or below 70 degrees. And the nighttime is anywhere between 32 and 52. We had to do a lot of driving between job interviews, appointments for stuff to accomplish before I start a real job and can’t tell people, “whenever”, and a quick visit over to Minnesota (You betcha!) for the weekend to see a cousin of Tom’s. Not only is driving more pleasant here because I’m not melting in my car or screaming at the traffic, but the leaves have started to change and I am ecstatic over it.
I have thoughts of putting together a huge, how-we-fixed-the-cabin list post. But I can’t do that right now because, well, we haven’t fixed the cabin. But every day we make progress. And just in time for some colder nights (and days), we got a few things crossed off the list that made a real difference.
Please ignore the ladder and attic access panel. Don’t you love our super powerful blower? Sigh. Everything done just requires more doing.
The first, biggest, thing is the cast iron stove was installed in the old fireplace. This involved a lot more work than I realized, and perhaps Tom realized as well since he kept adding little fancy extras like fire retardant in the chimney. But our (his) hard work and his (definitely all his) research paid off. We’ve had three or four fires in it, getting the temperature in the interior of the cabin to 80 degrees!
So that you know, for once, I am not just hyperbolizing. Why is there a red squiggly line under that? IS TOO A WORD.
This will not be our main source of heat. The radiant floor heating will be able to warm us 24/7 without the need of an axe. But a lot of people with radiant heating mention liking a second heat source to warm the air, so we decided to go ahead with a wood stove when we found one on craigslist cheap. It has the added bonus that I can still roast marshmallows (unlike a fancier fireplace insert/gas stove) and it is protection against us freezing should something go wonky with the floor heating.
The second, smaller but incredibly useful, improvement was to install a cat door.
The interior living space of the cabin is sandwiched between a front and back porch. The porches span the entire length (or width) of the cabin, and are almost entirely glass windows. They are wonderful to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while inside. But they are horrible at retaining heat.
Back (road facing) porch entrance. Did you know when you have property on a body of water, you call the water-facing side the front? I hated that as a child and refused to conform, calling this the front because it’s the side of the house we always enter from. I gave up on this sometime in my twenties but my family STILL insists that I insist. And now Tom is just thoroughly confused and calls this the front porch half the time even though I don’t anymore.
In the beginning, before we settled on radiant floor heating, we thought we’d have to completely abandon the porches for the winter. This was frustrating since they take up a huge chunk of useful space, namely where we store all the pet paraphernalia. I had already stuffed one cat litter box in the kitchen pantry and hated it. Where would I put the other one once it got too cold?
Front (lake facing) porch. Hands down the absolute best ever dinner spot in the entire world.
Luckily, the radiant floor heating is going everywhere under the house – even the porches. With their glass make-up we still probably won’t want to entertain on them in January. But we do think the temperature will stay warm enough that the cats will want to go out there. We just needed a way to keep the doors closed from drafts.
A door within a door!
Here’s the cat door from the kitchen to the back porch. It took them a day to get used to it, and will still lurk around and see if someone is going to open the “real” door and make a dash instead of using the flap. They had one at the condo to go out on the balcony, but that was completely see-through with see-through walls all around. So the solid wood door with a magical opening where another cat could lurk on the other side and pounce isn’t what they signed up for. But when their feeders go off, they suddenly think nothing of it.
The culmination of this work will be a cat door located in our bedroom. There is a window in there to the front porch (where I relocated the kitchen pantry cat litter as soon as we realized it wouldn’t freeze. A cat litter free kitchen! I haven’t had that since…2004?). The actual door to the front porch from the living room is a pretty glass-paneled deal that would not take kindly to any remodeling. Putting the cat access in our bedroom window also allows us to easily lock them multiple rooms away from the main (back porch) entrance.
And yes, this means we will end up almost never locking the cats out while we sleep. You’re shocked, I know.
Currently we simply leave the window ajar. My side of the bed gets more of the cool air coming in from the porch and I am antsy to have this little bit of project crossed of the list. But Tom has another priority.
This is currently our 2nd guest bedroom. He’s up in the attic, prepping to blow all that insulation in tomorrow. Before he loses his slave labor (moi) to an office job where I won’t have to type next to bales of cellulose.