This is the family cabin in Idaho, built by Doug's brother, 30 plus years ago. Two years ago, on Doug's 60th birthday, I planned a trip to the ranch with a birthday surprise guest, his life long/childhood best friend, Tex and his wife, Shelley. I told Doug on our way up and he could hardly wait! (That means it was great gift because Doug isn't one to be over the top excited. This time, he was!)
Doug and I arrived with the kids, just as the sun was going down. When we went to open the door to the cabin, it would not open. Doug did a "body slam" against the door and out came a river of water, along with books, shoes, coolers, and whatever else pouring down the hill. He ran to the front door and my feet and ankles were instandly covered with a flood of water racing out the door.
The cabin had been filled, almost a foot deep, with mucky water that was still running at full force from a frozen/then broken water main inside the cabin. To the best of our knowledge, the water had been running inside the cabin for 3-4 months. With the air on the inside being warmer than the sub-zero Idaho winter temps, it formed somewhat of a little rainforest inside and the cabin was growing mold, spores and fungus. I won't even attempt to describe the smell. Every inch of the cabin was a total disaster. Every item in the cabin was hauled away, completely destroyed, a total loss. We were devastated and hearts were broken.
Here are a few pix of the cabin after the discovery.
What you can't tell, except when looking at the reflection on the ground at the entry, is that there was still two inches of water inside the cabin after Doug and I had left the doors wide open for the water to drain out all night long. That was one of the longest nights of our lives. Things had floated all over the main floor. I couldn't begin to describe the stench. We've all worn masks in the cabin until this past few months.
Every lower drawer and cupboard was filled with water or covered in mold or both. The kitchen had to be completely discarded and rebuilt. The black spots on the floor were something floating in the water. Not even gonna try to guess what.
The master suite was destroyed. Mom had photo albums and Journals on the bottom bookshelf in her room that were just one solid mass of yuck. Pages couldn't even be separated. It was sickening. All had to be discarded.
This photo shows a "filmy" layer of yuck on the edge of the bottom step, that had grown on top of the water throughout the cabin. When Doug opened the doors, it sort of "tore off", catching on things as the water gushed out of the cabin and down the hill. It looks like cobwebs, in this picutre, but it was more like a thin plastic.
There were so many different types of mushrooms growing along the logs at the base of every room. They were everywhere! It was so awful! This brown one was larger than my "size 9" foot! The white one was even larger. What was fascinating was that as the logs dried up over the next few months, so did the mushrooms.
The walls were furry. Every painting, every photograph, every book, every piece of furniture, clothing or bedding...everything was covered in fur and lovely black mold spots.
It took over months and months to dry the walls. Removing the sheetrock was a necessity to get into the framing and there was just as much mold inside the walls as there was outside. You can see by the color change at the base, everything was damaged either by water or by mold.
There were months of family meetings and discussions about what to do. So many options were discussed. I was amazed at how six siblings and their spouses, as well as Mom, could all come to such peaceful agreements. Lots and lots of prayers were said. We discussed every option. Hazmat treatments were mandatory because of the mold. The insurance company was a nightmare. Doug's mom lost family heirlooms, photos, documents and treasures. Hearts were broken.
But, we all had the same vision of the cabin, perfectly restored, with lots of cooperation, hard work and careful spending. It took much effort from everyone! And last weekend, we "moved back in" to the cabin! It has been such an amazing effort. Doug's two brothers, who are contractors, have labored for 18 months. They took classes and received training, bought equipment to do the restoration. We've had family cleaning days where, dressed in hazmat gear, everything was hauled out into dumpster after dumpster (the kind that trucks have to move). Months and months of disassembling walls and structural details and then rebuilding. Alan and Jill have all but lived up there this past few weeks doing finish work. Jill's efforts are mindboggling but she was a driving force to see that the details were completed. The brothers and sons worked hard to see that the physical labor was done meticulously. There was much effort on the part of other family members doing paperwork and research. The cabin was completely gutted down to the logs. The logs were sodablasted and treated then sealed the painted four times! Walls were rebuilt. A new kitchen installed. New heating system. New waterlines. New electrical. New bathrooms. And I'm certain that there was much more than I am even aware of. It's a new home. And it's beautiful! And we are so thankful to each and every member of the family who has worked so painstakingly and diligently!
We were so excited last weekend to all gather together for the big reveal. On the way home from delivering Quayd to the MTC, Doug and I made several stops and spent hours and hours and money, money, money, getting the decor for the cabin. It was truly a blessing for me on that day. We left the MTC and 30 minutes later, we were gathering pillows and rugs. We stopped at Taipan, At Home, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Shopko. It took the next 24 hours of shopping, gathering, picking up, picking out, loading and getting ready. We took the Yukon and pulled a full trailer behind us to the ranch to do our part. I was so thankful for the distraction, although, I'm certain that many people wondered why this woman was sobbing in the pillow department of Ikea and the rug section of Taipan and and and. ;) Quayd was my every two thoughts that day and the cabin was the third one in between.
Alan and Jill and Doug and I have had our eyes out for things the cabin would need for weeks. Jill has been focused on so many little details. Alan and another brother have focused on the structural things. They have all worked so hard! Anne came and scrubbed and helped getting everything ready for our arrival with decorations, bedding for 19 beds, towels, rugs, wall decor. When we arrived, there was a concentrated effort to "dress" the cabin and get it ready for the reunion which began on Friday. And it. Was. LOVELY!
So, here's the reveal! The long, long, awaited and much anticipated reveal! (Note: I am not a builder, so I may have used the wrong terms or descriptions, but it's my blog, my opinion, my words. So, this is what ya get. ;) )
The logs had stains on them that could not be covered or sanded off because the stains were so deeply embedded into them. The bottom two logs were much darker because they'd been under water for so long. That wasn't going to change without paint. The ceiling had rust stains where every nail hole held the knotty pine planks in place. It was decided that the logs and ceiling would have to be painted to look right again. I was so sad because I love the look of the cabin with is honey colored logs. However, Pinterest showed so many beautiful white-washed log cabins that it grew on me. When we saw it completed a few months ago, my heart sunk at the change and then leaped for joy at the new beautiful light and airy feeling!
Alan, Jill and I have been shopping at online classified sites for the past few months and found some great, but, gently used pieces of furniture to replace the old. The big rug and pillows added some pop to the white logs. Mom was very concerned that it needed color. We found the perfect art and accessories to add that "pop".
The bathroom surrounds had to be completely redone. This windowless bathroom needed lots of bright to add light. Love it!
I couldn't love these new cabinets and vanity in the master suite any more! We all were just excited as it came together!
One thing that I've always thought about the cabin was that it needed more counterspace. I was so happy when Doug's brothers added the little "peninsula" to the kitchen - more sitting space, more work space, less wasted floor space.
And even more counterspace with the built-in along the other wall. Seriously so pretty! Mom wants a new gas stove instead of the electric one. But, for now, this electric was fine.
When we bought our home last year, Doug and I disagreed completely about our floors. Never ever, in 39 years of marraige, has he cared what I do about decorating our homes, but he had a strong feeling about floors. We did more of what he wanted than what I did in our home. (He gave me a new home that I was in love with. I could give him a say on floors.) The cabin now has the floors that I wanted here in our home. So, I'm happy that they are somewhere that I can enjoy them! And they cover the entire main floor except the master bedroom.
This shot of the greatroom makes my heart skip beats. I have had that horrific picture of the flooded room, taken the morning after we discovered it, embedded in my mind for two years. What a joy to see this now!
The small table and chairs in the corner was another online find. It's perfect for playing games and puzzles without interfering at the dining table.
This is the upstairs west bedroom. This ceiling was totally covered in black mold spots. The logs were furry, even upstairs, although the water was only downstairs. It's beautiful!
Jill is so dang cute! I love this tiny little ball of fire so much!
These vintage rust color chairs were a hit in the corner. Denise teased that they were the ugliest things she'd ever seen. I think that they are perfect! And I noticed that through the weekend, they were the chairs that were never empty, even when the sofa didn't have a soul on it. I found the lamp for a great price as a box store was selling their displays! I also found that rug under the chairs online and had almost hoped it wouldn't work at the cabin, so that I could put it in my den!
Oh my heck! It's so pretty! So bright! So cheerful! So happy!
The new ceiling fan is HUUUUUUUGE. Like 6' wide! HUUUUUGE! The box was labelled as Big-A** fan and it is! The clock also looked huge in the box, but when I was going to hang it where I'd originally planned, it was a dot on the wall. So, we moved it to above the closet and it can be seen from everywhere. The rock wall just blended in with the logs before but now, it just is so pronounced and beautiful!
I had to throw this shot in because while I was taking pictures, one of my nieces announced to Grandma that she will be expecting a baby in January! Here's Mom's reaction!
I love the look of the light reflecting everywhere! It's so bright!!
Doug made that dinner bell years ago. It still hangs. We had stored much of the outside porch furniture. Some had to be tossed but some was salvaged with lots of cleaning and TLC. It was so nice to see the flag blowing in that western breeze. Everything just felt so fresh and wonderful!
There's still work to be done. There's some outside cement and concrete work that will need to be completed and some damage to the exterior still remains. Decisions are being made about them now. But, the inside is lovely! Blinds are being ordered and there are a few little odds and ends that will still take place. What a gift to have such a wonderful escape!
We held a family council and decided some "Rules" for the cabin. I'm always in awe of this family. They are very connected, though, very different from each other. We aren't "close" as in "we get together every other day. But, they work amazingly well together. They are peacemakers and goodfinders and seek diligently to be agreeable. It's a rare thing. Watching Mom at the meeting as ideas were brought up and discussed... just a beautiful thing.
I have said that this flood was a blessing in disguise...from Day One. I know that it was hard for everyone. Yes, Mom lost everything. BUT. We have bonded over this project, we have worked well together, we have a beautiful new cabin. It was heartbreaking and devastating and backbreaking, but in the end, I see generations to come enjoying this place that we all call our piece of heaven on earth. AND. I see memories in the making for an eternal family. That, in my humble opinion, is a gift!
Life is good!