Living in the forest is definitely a unique experience. The first and foremost thing you will notice is that you are not alone, no matter how alone you might feel. There are squirrels peering into your windows, curious raccoons and opossums exploring the grounds, hungry deer enjoying your plants, and maybe even a bear or two creeping along the underbrush. Depending upon where you live, you might add moose or elk or any other number of wildlife to that list.
But beyond the feathered and furry friends, there is a certain balance that exists between your forest home and the world around it. It’s the kind of balance that you must carefully maintain in order to do justice to the natural world around you while protecting the things you hold dear — especially that house that you have put so much time and effort into.
Making the most of your forest home
But first things first: Forest homes offer unique joys that other homes simply cannot match. The views are astounding, so make sure that you get the most out of them with windows that bring the outside in. Large windows that give wide-open views are heavenly. But plan ahead for the maintenance costs, as it is almost certain that eventually some of those windows will be broken by wayward tree branches.
Heating and cooling a forest home can be an interesting experience. If you have great tree cover, enough to block most of the harsh sun during the summertime, then you just might see your energy bills plummet. Opening up those windows can often provide more than enough of a great cross-breeze for the hottest days. When the winter hits, all those leaves are gone, and the sun is free to stream right through — and to help warm your house in the process. If you need more light than what the windows can offer, skylights could be the perfect answer.
Think about your surroundings
When it comes to the wildlife, you can definitely live in harmony with your surroundings. Invest in locking trash cans to keep the bears at bay. If you have any open space, plant a garden filled with the things deer, elk and other beautiful creatures love to eat, then let them enjoy it. Then invest in a nice pair of binoculars on a tripod, and watch as they come right up to your property.
If you are building your home from scratch or will be doing major remodeling, remember that blending in with the world around you is the best way to pay homage to the land you love. Log homes are an obvious choice, but if that is not an option, look for hardy siding that mimics the look of wood but stands up to insects, rot and the occasional whack from an errant tree branch.
Creating outdoor spaces that you can live in is also a key to successful forest living. Deep decks that offer plenty of sitting space, porches with generous roofs that keep out the rain, and flagstone pathways that take you around the property are all great ways to ensure that you can enjoy your home to the fullest.
Finally, choose your interior design wisely. If you have utter privacy, forgo window treatments altogether. Choose decor that makes good use of deep, rich wood and comfortable fabrics. Even the colors of your walls can mimic the woodland sunrise with hues of apricot, yellow and blue.
How to protect a home in the forest
When you put so much time into creating the home of your dreams, you want to make sure it is protected, no matter what might come your way. Start by ensuring that all materials you use are hardy, weather-resistant and created to withstand the elements. Make sure that maintenance is top-notch; for instance, a log home will need treatment on a regular basis to ensure that no insects or rot invade those carefully-chosen logs. The forest can take over fast, so make sure that you are always vigilant with keeping your little area of woods reserved just for you.
Don’t forget the biggest risk of living in a woodland area — the risk of fire. Protect your home by creating a defensible space around it. You can do this by clearing the trees that are a little too close, or those that hang over the home a little too much. Colorado State University offers a very helpful series of articles on creating a defensible space around your home, which can increase both your safety and your peace of mind.
When it comes to the things you can’t control, make sure you have very good insurance that covers anything that might happen to your home in the woods. You will pay a bit more for the premium protection, but the first time you lose a window to a tree or suffer a loss due to water infiltration, you will be very glad you opted for the most protective option.