Design & Style

A functional outhouse

See how one cabin owner designed an outhouse to be light, ventilated, and odorless

By Fran Sigurdsson
Published: October 7, 2011
Photo by John Sylvestre

There was a time when every cabin had an outhouse. You could heed nature’s call and admire the bamboo fishing rods and wood skis in the Sears catalog at the same time. (For you whippersnappers: Such catalogs sometimes doubled as toilet paper.)  
    Alas, indoor plumbing usurped the outdoor throne. But stalwart outdoorsmen like John Sylvestre are restoring the privy to its rightful place behind the cabin.
    When Sylvestre purchased a cabin in northern Minnesota in 2000, adding an outhouse was his first priority. “The outhouse is something unique to cabins,” he explains. “It’s definitely something people talk about. People have an image of an outhouse: It’s dark, you hold your nose, dodge snakes … .”
    Sylvestre’s whimsical version, “Taj Ma’Outhouse” as he dubs it, is anything but dank and smelly. For starters, Sylvestre sited the outhouse to maximize natural ventilation from prevailing winds. Screened windows on four sides of the southeast-facing structure keep it light and airy. The pit is vented with recycled copper pipes that extend from the seat board through the copper roof. Lastly, a polyurethane finish prevents odors from penetrating the wood.

Subscriber-Only Content
You are currently not logged in. This article is only available to Cabin Life magazine subscribers.
Already a subscriber to Cabin Life magazine?
If you are already a subscriber to Cabin Life magazine you must log into your account to view this article. If you do not have an account you will need to register for one. Registration is FREE and only take a couple minutes.
Login   Register
Non-subscribers, Subscribe TODAY and save!
SUBSCRIBE TODAY and get 8 issues PLUS these great online benefits:
  • Unlimited access to the "Dream Cabins" section
  • Unlimited access to our "Property & Finance" section
  • Participate in our forums
  • Post photos in our online galleries
  • Comment on articles
  • Receive our e-mail newsletter
  • Manage your account online
Subscriber Only Content
Subscriber Only Content
Look for this icon. This denotes premium subscriber content.  Learn more »
Become a Member
Register online for access to more valuable resource information.
Don't miss your connection to the reader forums, projects, photo galleries, and more.
Not a Member?
Subscriber and Member Login

Free Twice-Monthly E-Newsletter

Receive useful tips & inspiration from Cabin Life

Expand Ribbon
close logo