The Heart of the Kitchen is… a One-Room Shack?

cabin kitchen

The story of The Laughing Cabin began in 1997 which is when my then-single husband decided to buy this property. At that time, the cabin was a one-room shack used by hunters. It sat on 5 acres of wooded land that borders a nearby national forest. Next to the shack was a one-room shed that was actually twice as big. It was used for storage and served as a laundry room. This building later became our workshop and office.

Big D (my husband’s nickname) used the one-room shack as his home for several years. The room was a mere 16’x16′ in size and could only hold a twin bed and a reclining chair as far as furniture goes. There was a wall mounted shelf in one corner that held a small TV set and microwave. Along one wall was a counter top and a very small sink. The sink’s only job was to serve as a place to wash a few dishes and to fill the decanter to brew a pot of coffee. On that same counter top was a two-burner electric hot plate and a toaster oven. Under the counter top was a miniature refrigerator. What more did one man need?

glass door, cabin door
The entrance to the original shack was moved back several feet and is now a glass door

There was a porch that led up to the only entrance to the one-room cabin. Inside a small entry way was the front door. To the right of the front door was another door that led to the bathroom. That bathroom held a toilet, a small bathtub and a small sink. Big D had to step outside the front door and enter another door to access the bathroom.

This was all fun and games until winter came.  He would have to use a portable heater to get the bathroom warm enough. On really cold days, that little heater just didn’t cut it. That’s when he decided to move the location of the front door so that the bathroom would then be enclosed inside the shack.

It was a very cozy but rugged existence. The shack was one of the things that captivated me the most when we first became friends. My favorite part was the front porch — which has now become our back porch. We would sit there for hours and just talk. I’m pretty sure that porch is where we fell in love, though it’s really hard to pinpoint exactly when it actually happened. We didn’t exactly “fall” into love. For my part, is was more like a sky dive without benefit of a parachute.

As time went by, Big D began building onto the original one-room shack. The window at the back became a doorway with stairs leading into what is now our living room. I remember that window oh-so well. I was driving Big D home one night, and he had locked himself out of the shack. We had to pry that window open and jump down from the sill to get inside. It was awkward and hilarious all at the same time. Funny how things like this stay in your memory so many years later. I remember how we laughed over this ridiculous predicament.

As the cabin began to expand, the one-room shack became the kitchen. We both love the colors found in nature — especially since the cabin is surrounded by acres of trees and borders a national forest. Our choice was to use stained wood for the flooring, walls and cabinets. The ceiling was already made from panels of wood, so no changes were needed there.

kitchen island, cabin kitchen
The kitchen island with two chairs as seen from the back door entrance

A carpenter friend designed, built and installed the cabinets to meet our specifications. He also designed and built an island counter top that we use for extra storage. It has a ledge that allows us to use it as a breakfast table. There are two tall chairs that we picked out at a discount furniture store that go beautifully with the island. This is where we sit to have coffee or a weekend breakfast, and it doubles as a buffet table whenever we are entertaining.

We chose stainless steel and black for the colors of our appliances because they worked so nicely with the dark brown counter tops and the natural color of the walls and floor. It was also nice to have a full-sized sink once the older and smaller sink was removed.

I decided not to have an electric dishwasher installed. My favorite part of being in the kitchen is to be able to stand at the window and look out into the trees while I’m hand washing dishes. I tend to think deep thoughts when there is a sink full of warm, soapy water and a dish rag in my hand. Every now and then, I’ll look out to see an amazing sight like the day a family of wild turkeys walked across my view.  It’s been fifteen years of washing and rinsing after every meal. I wouldn’t have missed a moment of it for the world.

The kitchen has windows on two sides and a glass door on one side. We decided long ago that we were not going to put up blinds or curtains. The view outside is spectacular, and the natural light that filters in is just right. We did not want to tamper with any of that. No curtain could look as lovely. With the nearest neighbor several acres away, there is no concern about privacy. Though I sometimes wonder what the bears and raccoons think about it. They have a fish bowl view into our world when the lights are turned on at night.

The refrigerator, sink and counter top opposite the kitchen island

Our kitchen suffered a minor disaster several winters ago. When the original shack was built, the water lines were run above the ceiling, for whatever reason. During a particularly cold winter, those pipes froze. We did not know it. I came home from an hour-long shopping trip to find that it was “raining” inside the kitchen. There was more than an inch of standing water on the floor. I ran to turn off the main water valve leading into the house only to discover the heavy metal lid was frozen solid to the ground. I had to wait 45 minutes for help to arrive.

During the wait, I grabbed every bucket, bowl, pot, pan and towel that we owned and did my best to catch the flood of water. I was soaking wet, and it was a very cold day.

The good news is that we were able to clean up the water very quickly once the water valve was turned off. An abatement crew arrived on the scene the next day and installed fans to circulate air to help dry things out and prevent mold from growing. Today, you would never know that anything happened. It has become another of those memorable stories we now get to tell.

With a small kitchen, it becomes important to pay attention to storage and cabinet space. I no longer keep extra dishes or fine china because there is no space, and our lifestyle does not require it. These things can always be borrowed, when necessary, and paper plates will do for most any occasion. I pick and choose small kitchen appliances very wisely because I don’t want to clutter up the counter tops. If it is not something that I will use very often, it doesn’t come home with me. If it does, it usually takes the place of another appliance. Appliances that perform more than one function or are designed to be very compact are my favorites. No wasted space!

The updated bathroom with the original octagonal window still in place

The bathroom that sits off the kitchen was the original and only bathroom at the time the one-room shack was built. We carried the same wood panels and flooring into this bathroom to coordinate it with the kitchen. Using a rustic shower curtain was really all this room needed in the way of decorating — that and a matching rug.

My favorite part of the bathroom is the original octagon-shaped window. It adds a certain rustic charm and diffuses the light in an interesting way. It is a nod to those early days when the cabin was only a one-room shack. I love the memories that the window stirs in my thoughts. The little shack has come such a long way.

Below is a photo gallery showing more pictures of the kitchen. Enjoy!

Until next time! ~ Susan


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All photos appearing in this blog post were taken by S.R. Williams.
Copyright 2018.

About S.R. Williams

S.R. Williams is an artist and writer who lives in a cabin in the northeast Georgia mountains where she is inspired with joy and inspiration by the natural beauty of the surroundings

View all posts by S.R. Williams

5 Comments on “The Heart of the Kitchen is… a One-Room Shack?”

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