Tales from the Cabin
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My Cabin: Bella Cottage

Green Dream on the Lake

Owners: Jeff & Deb Spencer

Location: Beaver Lake, Ozark Mountains, Ark.

Published: April 1, 2011
Photo by Jeff & Deb Spencer
Photo by Jeff & Deb Spencer
We never intended to own two cabins.
After six years of tent camping, we bought our first lake cabin in 2000. It was an old fishing cabin, only 45 minutes from our primary residence, sitting on 1 acre with a boat dock. We bulldozed the cabin four years later and built a new 1,400-square-foot two-story lakehome.
And on New Year’s Day in 2009, we bought our second place, an 860-square-foot, 1968-vintage lakefront cottage. And then for a year, we spent virtually every weekend gutting and remodeling the cottage. We tore out the original shag carpet, wood paneling and a stone fireplace – and we spent an entire weekend grinding petrified mud dauber nests that encased the cedar beams on the inside of the cabin. We also replaced the rotten deck and covered the old exterior cedar siding with cement board.
This is Sam, short for “Sam-a-lama-ding-dong.” Deb and Jeff say this about their wire hair fox terrier: “This breed makes for a great cabin and water dog.”
Photo by Jeff & Deb Spencer
For Deb and Jeff, their cottage area serves as a great training ground for preparing for triathlons. This photo was taken at the Ozark Valley Triathlon in Fayetteville, Ark.
Photo by Jeff & Deb Spencer
Energy Star certification was one of our goals. So we replaced all windows and doors and installed a 12,000-BTU 25 SEER mini-split heat pump for heating and cooling.
One challenge was to insulate the ceiling. To preserve the original tongue-and-groove ceiling inside we opted for a “roof over” which required us to remove three layers of asphalt shingles outside, and then place 2x8 lumber on its side to create an 8-inch compartment that we filled with R32 foam. Afterward, we covered it with roof decking and new shingles.
It was an exhausting year. But the pain was quickly forgotten the first time we sat in our porch swing overlooking the expansive view of Beaver Lake, and reviewed our first electric bill of $38.
And in the end, we fell in love with the smaller space and the rustic, cozy feel of cottage. So we sold our larger lakehome to a friend! We use our cottage every weekend, every vacation, year-round.

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