Cottagers and camp owners all share one thing that others among us don’t, we all (with some exceptions) share a love of an outhouse. OK, so maybe ‘love’ is a little strong, let’s just say we all share an appreciation of an Outhouses
As outdoorsy types, we know that an outhouse in a place without plumbing is considerably better than no outhouse, even if an outhouse is considerably worse than an inside bathroom with running water.
At our little cottage we had both for years until the outhouse was demolished on a whim several years ago for purely esthetic reasons. I have come to lament that decision, wishing I had thought it through, because ever since we tore it down, I have thought about building a new outhouse. Let’s face it, an outhouse at the camp is the equivalent of having a second bathroom in a home. Sure, an outhouse is outdoors, tucked into a little grove of trees, but what a pleasant little place to have some ‘alone time’ especially when the cottage is crowded with family and friends, as cottages often are.
So I have been thinking about my own outhouse, deciding what it will have to be the nicest outhouse on the lake…..Here is my wishlist for the perfect cottage outhouse…..
1) My outhouse will have 4 walls, a door, a small window that opens, with a screen to keep out the bugs and a nice sloped, flat roof. Our previous outhouse had a pitched roof, and it was too inviting to little brown bats and other creepy crawlies, so a flat roof with no hiding places is important.
2) Linoleum floors. My outhouse is going to have lots of linoleum inside, on the floors, lower walls etc, sealed with silicon, so it can be washed out easily with a bucket and a mop.
3) I think my outhouse will have a nicely stocked magazine rack, supplied with outdoor magazines and perhaps printed copies of The Cottage Chronicles There is nothing better than a good read…..
4) I am pretty sure my outhouse is gonna have lights, not just a droplight hanging from the ceiling. No more going to the outhouse in the dark, with a flashlight, or even worse a lantern, shining it down the hole to see if any animal is down there….Years ago at a hunting camp we had a neighborhood german shepherd dog decide to sleep under our outhouse…talk about a surprise!!!!
5) A solid door that locks from the inside. I dunno about you, but I like the sense of security that comes from locking the bathroom door, so an inside lock is important. And no half doors for me, you know, the kind the opens in two places, so you can sit and look out at the lake. Originally I thought that was a good idea, but tastes change…particularly in outhouses.
6) Insulated walls and gyprock or other interior wall siding perhaps plywood paneling, maybe knotty pine. I’m not a fan of wood 2X4 interiors showing all the cracks in the outside siding etc, besides an insulated outhouse will be sooooo damn nice on those cold January nights, or hot July days. Oh yes, speaking of inside, I want some chrome fixtures like a flush handle, even if it is just for show. Just because….
7) A decent foundation. Yup, I think I will build it on cement blocks, raised up a bit, and sealed nicely but with adequate ventilation of course. Remember number 4 above, I don’t want any surprises crawling under my outhouse…..I think a removable panel in the back might be useful for the occasional “cleanout” You know, in the fall, when your neighbors are all gone back to the city, you dig out your outhouse and fire the remains over onto their side of the property line, or if you really don’t like them bury it in their garden. When their vegetable garden flourishes the following year, that’s the time to tell them, they will thank you for it.
8) A deep hole. Sounds pretty basic doesn’t it? Well you’d be surprised how many cottagers build a lovely, comfortable biffy, only to scrimp on the digging part. Trust me, you want a deep hole under your outhouse. It becomes particularly important if your outhouse gets lots of use and “things” start to “build up”
9) A comfortable seat, engineered to fit, not just a hole cut in the plywood base, it has to be a nice seat, perhaps a padded toilet seat as a nicety. No splinters for me thanks…..
10) A radio….sure I am getting fancy now, but wouldn’t it be nice to have some relaxing country or classical music to enjoy as you do your business? A small transister radio would probably be adequate, but piped in music would be OK too….
11) Speaking of radios, a two-way intercom might be kinda nice too, although I have to give this one more thought. I was just thinking it would be great to be able to contact the camp from the outhouse if it was dark and you were scared, or perhaps you run out of toilet paper and need someone to bring you another roll.
12) Speaking of toilet paper, my outhouse is going to have a cabinet to keep the toilet paper safe from critters. Mice and squirrels love the stuff for making nests, especially the really nice super soft, ultra absorbent toilet tissue that my outhouse is gonna have, (no bargain store sandpaper TP for my little biffy hideaway.) It’s much better to have it sealed inside a nice cabinet, or just a plastic ice cream container to keep it dry and “fresh” Who doesn’t want their toilet paper to be fresh? I think toilet paper should be fresh as a daisy, so with that in mind, maybe I will keep some pot pourri in the ice cream container with the toilet paper.
13) Lime. No not the kind you might put in a drink. I am talking about limestone, the powdered kind, I’ll keep a bucket of it on the floor of the outhouse so I can sprinkle a little in to keep things in the ‘pit’ well….neutralized…..of course I will have some limes in the under the counter bar fridge tucked in the corner of the privy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to a nice cold beverage on a hot day while you take a moment to enjoy the wonders of an outhouse?
14) The size of my outhouse is going to be on the smallish side. Big enough to stand up and turn around etc, but not so big that it becomes additional storage for the cottage. I don’t want my outhouse full of rakes and shovels, garden tools, lawnmowers or even worse, boat gasoline…not a good idea if someone you know enjoys a cigar in the outhouse….And I really don’t want it big enough that someone will think they can join me in there…..uh-huh-no-way…this is not gonna be a two holer.
15) The outside of my outhouse is going to look shabby. Yup, I said, “shabby” run down, dilapidated. Inside might be opulent, but outside I am going for the “rustic” look, something that would appeal to city folk looking for rustic, while country folk would wonder why I don’t put vinyl siding on it. However, I don’t want others to figure out my little secret and start wanting to use the outhouse instead of the inside bathroom. Perhaps some old cedar shingles scavenged from a used building supplies store, painted grey or even better, camoflaged colors to blend it into the surrounding trees. From the outside I think it best that onlookers figure it isn’t a nice place to go.
16) Trees….I want to build my little hideaway biffy in a nice little grove of trees, perhaps some spruce trees on the north and east side to keep out the weather, and some hardwoods out front to allow for a little view of the lake.
17) Several cans of spray deoderizer, perhaps something with a nice pot-pourri scent…..
18) A sign that hangs on the outside of the door, indicating, “Do Not Disturb” right beside the one with the international male symbol, marking it clearly as the ‘mensroom” No unisex or “family” washrooms for me, not at the camp so the women have to look around for the women’s outhouse, which of course won’t exist……
19) And finally, since I am going all the way with my dream outhouse, I think some heat might be in order. Afterall, the outhouse is a year round cottage room. So perhaps an electric baseboard heater might help to make it kind of cosy in there, especially on a January night with a full winter moon rising over the frozen lake and the outhouse seat…oh wait, what about one of those heated toilet seats…..?
20) Oh wait, I almost forgot, I think my privy should have a modicum of culture so to speak, so perhaps some artwork on the walls or maybe a nice sculpture to look at when I am finished reading the past posts of The Cottage Chronicles. I am thinking maybe a knock off of Rodin’s masterpiece, The Thinker Sculpture