One of our homestead’s most used and appreciated features requires replacement.
The “veranda,” as we call it, a salvaged section of decking with a large corner bench built on it, may be the outdoor focus of life on our property. It is the most natural place to go first on our land, after descending the ridge above, coming through the forest, and seeing the revealed view. Almost every visitor to the homestead gravitates there on first visit, and often on subsequent ones. As a family, we’ve eaten countless meals there. It’s where we sit to read, work on projects, enjoy a glass of wine, watch whales, boats, aurora borealis, stars, and anything and everything else that passes by or appears before us. We wedge our sun oven in the corner of the seats to brace it against strong winds.
Use the “search” function on this page to look up “veranda,” and the hits might overwhelm you. It is, as I say, a central feature of our lives here.
I don’t know how old the veranda is, but it was old and beginning to fall apart when we first arrived here over 11 years ago. Back then, it featured a small table, made from tree roots and a slice of log. That broke apart in the first year or so; since then, we’ve done without. We’ve fallen through the rotting boards and covered them with plywood to continue. We’ve repeatedly shored up corners that tip with rocks. We’ve learned how to move around it, careful so as not to upset its delicate balance.
Recently, the two benches began to separate, meaning that I can no longer grab one of the back rests to support me as I cross to check the rain gauge. The time has finally come to replace it.
In many ways, this decision represents somewhat of a watershed moment in our lives. We’ve long speculated on the eventually replacing the veranda. Ideas have included putting a sauna there, making a large frame to hold the swing we installed near the garden (see Swingin’!). We have an opportunity to really change things here.
However, because we do rely so heavily on the veranda, particularly at this time of year, I’m reluctant to get carried away with improvements that might delay its replacement.
Instead, we resolve to keep it simple. We will make changes, inevitably. We feel we want a larger deck, so we’ll expand its current 5’X4.5′ footprint to 6’X8′. We hope to figure out some sort of steps leading off the deck to the beach, finally making that most common path to the beach safer than it has ever been.
We also want to modify the benching, to include at least one special bench that will fold out into a picnic table.
We found Les Kenny’s plans for a one-piece folding picnic table/bench seat on line. The full plan is a bargain at $5. This will replace one side of the bench. We may build another one to make the former “L” of seating. It’d be a little superfluous, but if it’s a different size than the original, we like the option of choosing a larger or smaller table for specific needs.
As a bonus, I figured out recently that we have all the cedar 2X4s we need to build at least one table/bench, maybe both! That’ll cut the cost of the project down considerably (as well as free up some storage space under the cabin, come to think of it . . .). Plus, that much of the required lumber has already been hauled to the property!
I won’t set a time estimate on the project, but the sooner we build it, the safer we’ll be. Continuing to use the current veranda would be asking for trouble.