Tuesday, January 31, 2012

# 189 - Country House Framing - Steel or Wood?

A country cabin in the woods will be much different from our two-story brick house in the suburbs of Greater Houston. First of all, I've had my share of sticks and brick homes; this time around, I'm looking for a "country cabin" feel to our architecture and interior design, which is not possible when you live with a neighborhood association dictating construction guidelines.

In this neighborhood we now live in..."CITY" is allowed, "COUNTRY" is out. We're rebels, we have chickens.

A blog buddy of mine, TEXAN (who can be found at... gave me a great piece of advice a couple of months ago after reading my blog for a while about building a true country cabin; she wisely told me to make sure that I specifically tell the contractor that I'm thinking out of the box. Most contractors will indeed have the shiny surface, Home Depot version in their head because that's what most people are looking for...she made me realize that a contractor will not automatically understand my angle and perspective for design, unless they see it first-hand. So, that's another reason I'm careful to document my ideas for our cabin with this blog. I want quality work, but not traditional construction concepts. No regular kitchen cabinets for me, thank you.

Regardless, I've found that blogging has been a dual-action thinking machine. You put it out there and great ideas will come back at you to increase the goodness ten-fold.

As for our house in the woods, it will be basically standing on its own without any neighborly comparison in sight. Well, not like we have neighbors here in the city, very close to us. On our acreage, the closest neighbor is a good distance away, but not too far away, just a few acres. Maybe we need a Lassie?

Today, Deputy Dave has been thinking in-depth about the framing of his country cabin and he's exploring the idea of a steel-framed house. First, since we've already survived one tornado that hit us during Hurricane Ike, I think he likes the idea of a solid framed home that could better withstand the high winds we often get here in Texas. Another consideration to go for a steel-framed house comes after considering our house will be surrounded by trees. The entire reason for moving to the country is to enjoy our acreage, to enjoy the extra room to run around and to savor the forest spreading through our land.

Therefore, a steel-framed house would make sense in this regard because a falling tree will have potentially less impact on a steel-framed construction than it would on a house with a regular timber frame. Third bonus should be within the steel itself as the main supports of the house and the lack of susceptibility to insects ever making gnawing delight out of the corner posts.

Personally, I could agree to a steel-framed house, but the steel cannot show because I want the country cabin appearance to be first and foremost in the design. I will still want my wrap around traditional deck and the house will still need to be elevated...isn't that pier and beam? I never get it right. Post and beam? Anyway, you got my drift.

As for the interior, I've come to the conclusion about how to summarize the look and feel I'm going for...and this is super important to's what I've been blogging about for so long and I finally found the words for it...

...even with some modern twists, I want our cabin to embrace a certain historic character. I want to employ old-world materials that will give our home a welcoming and comfortable feel that is family-friendly.

And, most importantly, as we select the design of each room and the finishes for each area, I am not concerned with sleek and shiny, I want our finishes to blend in with the cabin atmosphere and to look better over time. No fad designs will be allowed in our home, each finish must look better and better with each scratch, bump and dent. Wear and tear will not be rushed or savored, but it shouldn't be dreaded with horror either. I don't want those kitchen cabinets that are completely ruined with one scratch. If it happens, I want the scratch to blend in and to promote deeper character.

Thank God I was finally able to get it out, exactly how I feel. Actually, it's how I feel about many things at this point in my life. I have a few treasured antiques and belongings that I'd feel a great sense of loss if something happened to it, but I don't want to live like that overall. In general, I want my house to be this awesome place that is full of instant history because we are incorporating historic elements and design to our country cabin.

Another element I look forward to embracing is newly made craftsman items with a mix of rejuvenated things, from newly made braided rugs to old hinges, I eagerly look forward to trial and error so that our country cabin look can fall into place.

Mostly, I want to avoid the watered-down version of home-improvement by avoiding modern, commercialized stores.

 As much as possible, I'd like to use hand-crafted, artisan workmanship in the cabin and this includes all light fixtures. Heck, I'd love to have some chandeliers made from mason jars or antlers.

So, that's probably the reason I'm drawn to the "mutt" kitchen style. It's rugged. It seems to have been there forever, yet is still functional and the "old" part of it is the BEST part of it. There is nothing to be dinged and dented that would create a need for tears or a chunk of the wallet to be impacted because of the "damage."

With my finishes that I have in mind, future "damage" would only mean, "Oh...Ah...that gouge looks awesome."

And now, I leave you with a photo of one of my fears while on our land. No fear of the little cat, just the scrawny, hungry one on the back porch. Supposedly, our area of The Big Thicket has black Panthers which are also rare Black Cougars.

I better watch my back...


Mike said...

I remember when the black panthers lived in Urban areas.

Clint Baker said...

My first time stopping in! I love the pics!

LindaG said...

Well, the farm house is on concrete pedestals. Once your house is insulated from the ground like that, it pretty much does away with termite damage.
There has never been any found in the farm house, only dry rot, probably from storm damage.

Houses built in the 1800s didn't use steel, and many of them are still around. ;)
But I believe your property is closer to the water? And therefore would need to be stronger.

A good builder should be able to help you there, as far as wind ratings and such.

Good luck! :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Sounds idyllic. I'm with you on the rough-hewn and well-seasoned wood and the overall timeless rustic look. Kinda lost me with that panther looking in the door, though.

Real Estate Agent in North Carolina said...

Hello Lana, I loved your pictures especially the chandeliers was beautiful. I have been checking with the interior designs lately and I liked the country designs. It looks beautiful and it seems more lively than the modern designs. Yes, the modern design are cool and neat but still I feel there is something missing in it. Maybe it looks too mechanical for me without any liveliness like the country designs.