Welcome back! In this part of designing the perfect homestead dwelling, I’ll discuss more factors to consider when developing your floor plan, beginning with the workshop.
At the Maine homestead, the workshop was attached to the barn. This was convenient for tool storage since most repairs took place outside but it was inconvenient for Ron to do his woodworking. He’d have to make a fire and warm up the shop before any work could take place so he seldom engaged in his hobby.
Here, the shop is an enclosed room in the house. Enclosed so wood shavings and dust are contained. It’s somewhat inconvenient having to run inside to fetch tools when Ron is working outside, but that’s balanced out by the fact that he’s more inclined to do wood working since his shop is located in the heated house. If you’re able to locate the shop so that it’s near the entrance, tramping through the house to retrieve tools when working outside is kept to a minimum.
The Homestead Kitchen
To me, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the homestead dwelling, so be sure to give its layout careful consideration. If you plan to use a wood cook stove as we do, you’ll need clearances on all sides per the manufacturers specs. Unlike an electric or gas range, the cook stove can’t be set against a wall with cabinets butted up to either side. I treat it as the “island” in my kitchen and have the cabinets, sink and countertop arranged around my “island” stove.
Adequate counter space is critical to any homestead kitchen. You’ll be doing more than making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and you’ll need space to perform duties such as canning, butchering, cutting and wrapping meats and cooking from scratch. We’ve done our own butchering and an ample, well organized space is vital for this operation. Once I completely clear the countertop of canisters and so forth, we each have our own station. We work side by side with Ron sawing and cutting up the large carcass into manageable pieces, then passing them to me for trimming, wrapping and labeling. Because we each have sufficient counter space, we are able to work assembly line fashion as if we’re a well oiled machine.
If you plan to have a grain mill so you can grind your own whole grain flours, be sure to incorporate an area for this in your kitchen layout. Ron built a 2X4 frame, set utilized the scrap piece of Formica countertop that was cut out for the installation of the kitchen sink on top of the frame, then mounted my hand powered grain mill on top of that. I keep buckets of whole grains underneath this assembly for easy access.
The Homestead Pantry and Storage
Storage is important in the homestead kitchen too. A large pantry for the storage of jars of goodies I work so hard to put by has been integral in both the Maine kitchen as well as my wilderness homestead kitchen. A year’s supply of jarred food takes up a fair bit of space. Your pantry should be cool and dark if possible. In lieu of a pantry, basement storage would work but having some room in the kitchen for canned good storage means fewer trips to the basement to fetch an item. If you plan to buy and store staples such as flour and sugar in bulk (50# sacks) as we do, be sure to take that into account when planning on how big to make your pantry.
And then there’s the space needed to store all your food preserving equipment. The boiling water bath canner, pressure canner and large kettles are bulky items that require a home when not in use. Same goes for a dehydrator, the meat saw, meat grinder and meat slicer if you plan to use these items. An apple parer corer, a butter churn and a pulp separator/squeezer round out my list of preserving equipment that requires storage. I solved my storage problem by incorporating a floor to ceiling cabinet in my kitchen floor plan at both homesteads. Conveniently the cabinet also has room for storing my empty jars.
Regarding the “clean areas” of the house, the living room, dining area and bedrooms can be arranged as you see fit. Incorporating big picture windows in the living room and dining area will admit lots of natural light particularly if you can orient the house so these windows face south. This will make for bright living areas even during the short days of winter and come spring, you will have a great space for your garden seedlings on the sills of the south facing picture windows.
Bear in mind that if you are planning to heat with wood, the open concept makes heating easier. At both homesteads, the living room, dining area, kitchen and even my sewing room are essentially one big open space. As I mentioned in Floor Plan for the Perfect Homestead Dwelling – Part 1, locating your wood storage receptacle near the entrance door means less mess when you bring wood in from outside while wearing dirty boots.
If you’re in to vintage crafts such as quilting, sewing, spinning and weaving (or think you might like to be), consider including a room in your floor plan just for these activities. All of these are worthwhile homestead skills and hobbies, but each requires its own equipment and supplies that will need to be stored when not in use. Additionally, while some of these activities require little space to perform, others such as quilting on a frame or weaving on a floor loom take up enough floor space that the family might object if you set up shop in the living room.
Leave Room For the Electrical Components
If you are planning to have an off-grid electrical system, you will need to allocate space in your floor plan for a battery bank as well as all the electronics necessary to run the system. Batteries are heavy so the floor where they will be located will need extra reinforcement. Ventilation around the battery bank is essential too and will likely be dictated by the building codes in your area.
Any off-grid electrical system requires more than a typical circuit breaker box. There are various electronic components (more on those in a future post) and all of them need to be visible and accessible, so you should plan on allocating some wall space for the mounting of these gadgets. They too must conform to electrical codes.
Finally, don’t forget about safety. Be sure to include the placement of fire extinguishers on your floor plan. Positioning them in strategic locations such as near stoves and in the electrical control/battery room is critical. Also be sure to have an escape plan in case the unthinkable happens…a house fire.
Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!
Ron and Johanna
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