We are back this week bringing you the second part of our “Just the Beginning” blog. If you haven’t read the first blog post, make sure to check it out!
When building the cottage, I was able to buy a variety of widths of black ash wood from a friend for fairly cheap, so it was ash and not sheet rock. I used 8-inch black ash wood on the ceiling which we stained white. Lori and I decided the white stain would lighten up the room and give it even more of an open feeling. The walls throughout the cottage are mostly 6-inch black ash, except for in the bathroom and kitchen where we used 4-inch. I really love the bathrooms white painted ceiling, we built it with simple pine boards, no tongue and groove. I would choose that over sheet rock any day!
Now let me tell you about the curve so to speak and the balcony. The balcony was another can of worms that I opened up. The original design was to have ladder stairs going straight up with a railing and a straight walkway perpendicular to the stairs.
Lori got the idea to add a little curve at the top of the ladder stairs on each side to give it more character. This is the can of worms I mentioned… I had this idea and I drew it out on a board. Along with the curve by the stairs, I added another curve at the end of the walkways that would allow us to access and look both dormer windows. Boy did that add a lot of work to the project! I first had to build the structure using 2×12 inch framing material and finishing it off by bending and adding layers of plywood on the face of the structure. I managed to get one curve done while Lori was teaching at school one day. She came home and loved it, so I build the other side the next few days and we love it. Now that the curve was built I had to build a railing to match it. Lori wanted to use steel, and so I decided to go ahead and try it. I spent at least 40 hours bending and welding the steel railings together. The top and bottom rails I bent in-between two trees in the yard. I made my template out of plywood and kept bending it little by little between the trees until it matched the template. After the top and bottom rails were bent, my grandson and I built and welded the posts that hold the railings together. He then cut the spindles and I bent them, working together to welded them in place to form the railing.
The Dog Gate
Lori loves to cuddle with our dog Reggie, and when we were building the loft, I knew the stairs would be too steep for a dog to climb. I decided to put in a winch system with an enclosed crate so that we could bring Reggie up to the loft with us. I am still working on the crate, but the hinged gate is in place to allow easier access rather than going over the railing. He loves to cuddle in the morning! Some guests have used the winch to hoist their luggage up into the sleeping loft instead of bringing it up the stairs. To be clear, it’s not designed to raise or lower humans!
The Barn Door & Amenities
The big barn door to the sleeping loft was built this past winter by Lori and I. We built it in the basement of the cottage and then brought it out and hoisted it up over the balcony on the outside of the house using a “cherry picker” that I rigged up for the loader of our tractor. That thing must weight 100 pounds or more! We are very happy with how it looks and the character it gives the sleeping loft. The bed frame we built in the basement as well and then brought up the same way as the barn door. I made the headboard out of an old fireplace mantle that I took apart and also added some barn board to it. The skylights in the sleeping loft was an afterthought. It added a whole bunch more time to the project, but now it is so much brighter up there. The bathroom in the loft was also an afterthought, as was the vanity. We designed it as we went! We had spent more time up there than we realized and so we knew a bathroom was needed. We adapted our plumbing to work for that and we are so thankful we did. Having a toilet in the loft prevents anybody from having to go down the stairs in the middle of the night.
The Rescue Deck
We didn’t originally have a door off the bedroom in our plans, it started as a window we would be able to climb out if need be. However, I said why not just put a door there? Lori agreed and then we ended up building the rescue deck off the East side of the sleeping loft. It’s a nice addition for anyone who enjoys starting and ending their day watching the nature outside.
The Future Goal of the Gatekeeper
Our goals for the future of the Gatekeeper cottage remain unknown. Originally, we were thinking that we would move in here, but now that people have come to stay and have loved it, we both feel that at this point, we will share this cottage with as many people as possible. We want others to enjoy the unique space that we, through the power of God, have created. Without the gifts and the vision, the talents, the patience, and determination that all come from God, none of this would be possible. I’m still working on that patience thing!