When We Get Older

In September we passed the landmark of forty-five years since we started building our house. An amazing feat considering it is still standing despite our lack of building experience and the materials used – mostly scrounged. (For those interested you can see our story here – https://hardtocomebylifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/beginnings-2/)

The original part of the house was built on posts on un-level ground. One side of the house was almost ground level while the other was three feet off the ground. The house was a hexagonal and the framed foundation looked like a spiders web made from saplings.

Eventually we started to expand, first adding a bedroom, then a bathroom (a big upgrade from the outhouse) and then a living room. In order to accommodate these extensions, the easiest way to add on was to build the extensions below the existing roof line. This meant each new room was about two feet lower than the original floor – two steps down to the bedroom, two steps down to the bathroom, two steps down to the living room. So far, so good.

Forty years or so later I would lie in bed and think about what happens when we get older and can’t manage the steps. We could put ramps everywhere but they would take up the most of the floorspace in our small house. We could also drop the floor in the main house two feet which seemed like a fun and interesting project but wasn’t whole heartedly accepted by others in the house. That is when I thought of our guesthouse. With a bit of alteration and addition it could be turned into the perfect one level retirement home for when we get old (we’re only in our early 70’s right now).

The guesthouse was originally built as a workshop (https://hardtocomebylifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/hard-to-come-by-b-b/) and evolved into our bed and breakfast cabin which we ran for twelve years. It was two rooms – the bedroom/sitting area and the bathroom. Covid 19 came along and I wasn’t going very far afield and so I decided to tackle the project. The largest part of the venture was adding a bedroom and the remainder was a renovation of the bathroom.

Building the bedroom door
Handmade cabinet with live edge cedar
Shower with galvanized metal roofing
Live edge cedar counter and floating shelves
Handmade cedar French doors. A Cubic Grizzly mini wood stove to the left of the door
The extended ‘kitchen’
Milled board and batten siding from the property

So there it is. The perfect project for these times and a good solution for future times.


  1. Cozy, comfortable, and hand-built – what more could you ask? I’ve never seen such a small wood stove! And the galvanized roofing for shower walls was brilliant. “Only in our early 70s sounds good to my ears.” 🙂

    • These wood stoves are primarily made for boats but have become popular with tiny house dwellers – our daughter has one in her tiny house. It uses 6″ long ‘firewood’ so I can make use of all our fallen branches. It is rated for 200 sq ft so it heats the cabin sitting are adequately and provides some atmosphere. The shower was made from gently used galvanized roofing so it was inexpensive to do. I screwed and sealed it in so it will be easy to replace if need be. It’s working well so far!

  2. Simply beautiful. I love the delicate simplicity and practical nature of your work. I’m pushing 78 (coming up in a few months now) and we started wondering about the trip up and down a full set of stairs to the bedroom. The view can’t be beat looking down on the creek, but I vacillate between worrying about the joints (mine) getting creaky or perhaps those many trips up or down are what help keep me a bit more limber than I might otherwise be. The limitations of aging definitely keep me hanging on tight to the handrail! I’m enthralled with the concept of tiny houses. I keep trying to pare down, but letting go of things involving memories isn’t always easy. We have so many marvelous memories embedded in this house we’ve worked on. Like yours it’s been filled with lots of joy and warmth.

    • Thanks Gunta. I think you’re right about using the stairs and keeping limber. It is my plan to keep moving as long as I can. So far not too many aches and pains. I don’t know how feasible it is to pare down. I think the only way we could do it is to move into our small cabin and take the essentials. By then we will know what they are. Right now it’s too hard giving up the ‘treasures’ I have accumulated through my life so, like my mobility, I’ll enjoy them while I can. I mean – how could I throw away my owl pellet and skull of a skunk!

      • I very much needed and enjoyed the laugh your last sentence elicited. Some treasures are virtually impossible to give up. Seems best to enjoy them while we can… as you said!

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