Never judge a book by its cover. That’s what we’ve been told growing up and the statement couldn’t be truer. However, it doesn’t just apply to people, it can also be true of structures that have withstood the test of time.
Take a dilapidated cabin for example—while many would consider it an eyesore that should be torn down, others may believe it’s a living piece of history. The walls hold memories and have seen years of events that you couldn’t even imagine.
For 65-year-old Richard Aiken, restoring a piece of property had always been a dream of his. A retired realtor who had worked hard his whole life, the dream of owning a cabin had stuck with him throughout the years.
Unfortunately, the opportunity never presented itself…until one fateful hunting trip changed everything.
Before setting his sights on restoring an old cabin, Richard could best be described as a self-proclaimed “hillbilly.”
He’s also a loving husband, father and the proud recipient of two PhDs and one medical degree. To say Richard is well-rounded would be an understatement.
One day, Richard was out on a routine day of hunting when he stumbled upon a rundown old cabin. The windows were shattered, the roof caved in and the walls were a mere shadow of what they used to be.
Realizing this could be his opportunity to have the dream vacation home he always wanted, Richard decided he would try to hunt down the owner. Is it possible he would be able to find the person?
Thankfully, due to his background in real estate, Richard was able to utilize his network of realtors and track down the property’s owner.
The man went by the name of Steve and Thomas quickly built up the courage to call him. Now, he just had to convince him to sell the cabin…
Richard called the cabin’s owner and asked how much he might be willing to sell it for. Steve told Richard he could part with it for a $100 on the condition that Steve restored the cabin to its former glory.
With a smirk and knowing twinkle in his eye, Richard agreed. It didn’t take long for the cabin to be signed over to Richard and he quickly began his work.
It wouldn’t be an easy task to restore the cabin, but with a newfound energy, Richard knew he could do it with perseverance and patience. Unfortunately, he had no idea just how bad of shape the cabin was actually in…
At first, Richard was not sure where to begin. The inside of the cabin was completely destroyed. The rotting wood from the roof had caved into the interior and the walls were a crumbling mess.
Realizing he needed a second opinion, Richard called one his good friends out to assess the state of the home. Both men definitely agreed that no one had maintained the property for quite some time.
Did this use to be a vacation home? Did anyone actually live here at some point? Regardless, Richard knew the cabin could be beautiful with a lot of hard work and was not about to give up.
Thankfully, the wood on the outside of the cabin had remained somewhat intact. In fact, Richard thought it had real character.
Despite the work involved on the interior, the outside structure had promise. However, there was a lot of work ahead…
Richard worked very meticulously, cataloging every piece of wood that he currently had and the supplies he would need to finish the job.
While he knew he would need new beams for structural support, he hoped he could still utilize the original wood in some capacity.
One of the reasons Richard fell in love with the cabin was its stunning view.
With the beautiful trees and a position right next to the river, he knew it would be a great vacation spot regardless of the time of year.
While beginning the restoration process, Richard decided to add a small side project by building a dock.
Since he loved to fish, he thought it would be the perfect companion piece to his new cabin.
As Richard continued to plan his dream cabin, he decided to enlist his children to help with a little bit of landscaping. Using shovels, they began to dig a trench near the lake which would end up being a private stream that would run past the log cabin.
Richard couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have found such a gem and couldn’t wait to one day sit on the porch at sunset listening to the stream and the sounds of nature.
The cabin would have to be rebuilt from the ground up. Richard utilized the original pieces of wood to help construct the beams.
Despite it being early on in the project, Thomas was thrilled with how it was turning out.
Unlike the original cabin’s schematic, Richard chose to build the cabin on a much higher foundation.
He wanted to have a place to store his hunting and fishing equipment. It would also keep the cabin safe from flooding.
Richard also decided to add an outside deck to the cabin. He couldn’t wait to sit out on the deck enjoying a cool iced tea on a warm summer’s evening.
Just the thought of it motivated him to build even faster.
One of the ways Richard decided to tie his cabin together was by installing a fireplace. He decided to go with a Rumford design, which was very popular in the 1800’s.
He wanted to keep with the rustic flair of the cabin and couldn’t wait to see his children sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night.
Enlisting the help of his friend Jerry, who happened to be a carpenter, Richard had the stairs inside the cabin fashioned from the original wood.
He believed it added some character and charm to the place.
With the desire to keep everything in the cabin authentic, Richard took some of the repurposed wood and other materials to a carpenter to fashion doors that would look straight out of the 1800’s.
He knew modern doors and fixtures would be a distraction and wanted to keep the cabin looking as rustic as possible.
Since the wood panels were being repurposed, they didn’t fit together perfectly. Therefore, Richard chose chicken wire to fill in the gaps.
With the help of his children, they insulated the cabin, preparing to keep warm in the cold winter months ahead.
Richard’s daughter helped plaster the entire interior of the cabin.
This panoramic view gives you an in-depth look at all of the work that went into getting this cabin live-in ready.
One big surprise was Richard’s Amish neighbors carved his family a harvest table that could be moved easily around the cabin.
To say he was surprised by the unexpected gift would be an understatement.
Richard wanted to make the cabin as environmentally-friendly as possible, so he chose a stunning candle chandelier for one of the cabin’s main light sources.
He also made sure there were skylights to offer plenty of natural lighting.
One of Richard’s favorite places in the cabin is the cozy loft, which contains a bed he built himself.
It was the perfect place to cuddle up with a good book on a cold wintery night as the fire roared down below.
While it took months of hard work, the cabin was finally completed in time for Richard to spend his first winter there.
Now, he spends every winter at the cabin ice fishing with his family.
It took a lot of hard work, but in the end, Richard really made his dream a reality.
It’s amazing how that pile of rubble turned into a stunning work of art. Do you have a dream project? What is holding you back?