10 Things You Didn't Know About Owning a Cabin In Michigan

Owning a Second Home Is Not Like the First

Michigan Cabin at Night by the Fire


Since you're likely to only be there on the weekends and vacations, you don't have to keep up pristine appearances. With a rustic cabin or beachside cottage, you've got the ability to cut some slack on the cleaning. Old books, fishing reels, a TV from the 1980s or earlier! (with no remote), and ancient appliances can live out the remainder of their useful lives. We have a 40-year fishing boat that also makes it to the beach dock each year. Some of these old boats are great to cruise the Great Lakes


You Can Have a Fire Circle in Your Backyard

Michigan Cottage Fire Pit


Bonfires, a fire pit, a fireplace ring, or even a circle of rocks is all you would like to make an environment for wonderful stories and conversation. People drop in for a beer, or simply for a fast hello. Kids learn to make a fire, roast marshmallows, hot dogs, and popcorn.

It’s an exquisite opportunity to getting everyone together. As the evening fades into the night the stories tend to get longer and sometimes louder too.


Don't Need No Stinking Yard

The "lawn" is really a collection of weeds and encroaching wild geraniums. It's green and you can walk on it without shoes. That qualifies as a success as a lawn on the sandy soil that the old cabin sits on.

We let the old gravel driveway to be slowly taken over by grass and other greens. The two tracks leading up to the cottage give it a rustic feel. The only bad part is that sometimes the old lawn mower will find a rock from the old drive...zing.


The Homey Feel of Knotty Pine and the Smell of Quiet

Knotty Pine Cabin


The paneling and cabinets are over 50 years old and the tongue and groove pine board have a rich butter yellow tone from age and years of former owners' cigarette smoke. We have to be careful not to brighten it up too much else it looks weird.

Likewise, the smell is different too. Coming into the cottage after a long time away is always an interesting experience. Sometimes the smell is benign. Sometimes it’s dusty and sometimes it's musty. The initial smell goes away quickly has windows are opened or if someone puts a meal on the stove.


The Cabin Pantry - A Food Museum

Cabin or Cottage Pantry


If we aren’t diligent about checking out, using, and replacing the canned goods, it can be like entering a time capsule. We have found cans of beans and vegetables in the inner recesses of my parent's cottage that went back to the early 1980s. The cabin pantry is always a trip back in time.

Now, at the end of each season, we make a donation of our unused can goods to the Caseville Helping Hands food pantry. Caseville Helping Hands is an excellent thrift store and they host a curbside food pantry each week.


New Purpose For the Old Outhouse

Cottage Outhouse Northern Michigan


There was a time in the 1960s when the old cabins and cottages replaced the outhouses. Septic tanks were installed and along with its indoor plumbing. Some owners must have had a close connection with the old outhouse because rather than tear it down, many of them were converted to storage sheds. A few of the original outhouses can be spotted from time to time.


The Beach Is An Uninvited Guest With The Sandy Feet

Cottage Beach Northern Michigan


By late summer the vacuum cleaner has several pounds of beach sand in the bag. Sand is just part of being at the cabin and since it’s dirt or mud that shows up on the floor, no one really minds a bit of sand on the floor. Of course, it’s a different story when you jump into bed with a bit of a sunburn and find the beach sand has followed you in on those rough bed sheets.


Thank Goodness for the Party Store

Michigan Party Store


In Michigan, we call any little convenience store that sells beer, wine, booze, and a few groceries a party store. It's a Godsend especially during the summer when a trip into town is an ordeal. Plus you have to wade through all the tourists. (We don’t consider ourselves one, but some locals may disagree.) The little store is only a short bike ride away and it’s where some of us made our first purchases. It smells like bait, new t-shirts, sweet candy, and newsprint. You could just about find everything you needed for a day at the beach.


Keeping The Trash Panda's Out of Your Garbage

Garbage in Cage - Michigan Cottage or Cabin

We have to put our trash into cages in northern Michigan. Critters love the garbage cans. I once heard a horrendous racket outside only to find 3 young raccoons treed next to a dumped out garbage bin full of a week's worth of smelly food. Some enterprising souls make and sell small wire mesh enclosures to keep the critters out.






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