Adding trusses
Before and Afters

How We Renovated an Old Shack into an Inviting Cabin

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Renovating an Old Shack into Our Cute and Cozy Cabin

Our little cabin is nestled right beside the lake and across the street from our main house. Today it is a place that our family and friends love to spend vacation time in, but boy is it ever different from when we found it.

Original Shape of Cabin

The previous owners used it for a party shack and a hangout for their teenagers. The yard was not much more than a tangle of weeds with a large log pulled up on shore beside a fire pit. Oh, and an outhouse also sat in the yard that was not only disgusting, but definitely illegal so close to the lake shore. Gross!

Inside was just one room. No sink, no bathroom, no style. The ceiling was pink insulation with vapor barrier plastic stapled to hold it up. If you stood in one corner and dropped something, it would roll to the far corner. The floor was out of level by 8 inches.

Front door of cabin before renovation
Front door of cabin before renovation

After removing a lot of rubbish and cleaning and then cleaning some more, we were ready to start the transformation.

You Did What By Yourselves?

John worried about the roof being flat and without any slope for snow and water runoff, so we lifted the ceiling and added large timer beams that created a good slope and higher at the front. John and I lifted the ceiling and added the new beams by ourselves using various jacks and pulleys. There were some tense moments, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Pure determination (with a little cussing thrown in) and we did it!

We Need a Real Bathroom

Next, we framed in a small bathroom with a shower, sink and originally we tried a compost toilet. Nope. I don’t recommend them. Pee-eww! We replaced that stinker with a proper flushing toilet.

New Walls = New Look

We used live-edge planks with white chinking between each plank to cover the old interior walls. And then we added a mini kitchen with new cabinets and a sink. John did some stone work in one corner for our new wood-burning stove.

wood burning stove in cabin

The rest of the flooring is our own milled wood planks, which we laid and stained. We replaced the front door with a custom solid wood door with wrought iron clavos nails and added a small timber front entry cover.

New covered front door for cabin..
New covered front door for cabin..
Trusses Changed Everything

The most notable change to the cabin was the 3 large scissor timber trusses we added above the porch and then extended the roof over to cover it in. We later hung two swing chairs from the first truss, making that spot one of our favourite places to relax. There is nothing like swinging on the porch and watching the lake with a drink in hand on a scorching summer day.

Let’s Landscape…Again!

We’ve re-done the landscaping more than once. The last time was after the lake flooded and came all the way to the front step of the cabin. We lost all the grass and flower beds that year. Right before the flood we built the retaining wall, redid the steps from the street and extended the deck in front of the entry door.

If you’re looking for a new workout, try this: Carry hundreds of 60 pound retaining wall blocks off the back of a pickup truck and down a flight of stairs for a few days, followed a week later by packing about as many 40 pound sandbags (two at a time) down the same stairs and over to the lake shore. Then wring your hands with worry and dismay while the lake laughs at your effort and tosses aside those same sandbags like they were filled with feathers as it spills itself into your yard and tears apart your dock.

Well, that took a turn, didn’t it? Sorry, I’m still a little traumatized by the flood of 2017.

Dry Creek Bed

When the flooding was over, we added a dry creek bed to our landscaping using rocks and stones winding from the deck down to the lake under the willow tree. It’s a shady area where the grass refuses to grow anyway.

dry creek bed landscaping

Final Touches

John built a new wood fence along the street and added a cute little covered carport just big enough to store his car in. 

mini timber carport

And the cabin was complete.

Renovating a cabin Before and after photos of the cabin Our Cabin Reno
We transformed a shack into a cute cabin Our Cabin Reno


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