Photo Credit: Joseph Hilliard
Margaret Parnell has spent much of her life circling the globe on job assignments. Her travels have taken her to more than a dozen countries — from Thailand to New Zealand; Japan to Germany. But when it came time for her to put down roots in retirement, she zeroed in on the laid-back, artsy town of Asheville, North Carolina.
Here, in nearby Black Mountain, she gathers with friends nightly at her 5,000-square-foot log home. Every gathering involves a toast, and the cocktails are always poured with a view. “The upper deck
, lower patio, around the fire pit — there is outdoor living
everywhere,” Margaret says. “We relax and share about what good things happened that day.”
After drinks and dinner, the party often continues outdoors. Her crew sleeps on hammocks under the stars, waking to gorgeous sunrises. “How old do you have to be to no longer have a slumber party?” she laughs.
Born and raised in the mountains of Colroado, Margeret's love for adventure, show-stopping views and rustic surroundings comes naturally. That's why precariously situating her incredible lo ghome into the side of a mountain was an obvious post-retirement step. "I have always been rustic-focused, and I wanted a home that incorporated a lot of wood
in many ways," she says.
With an impressive list of log and timber elements, her handcrafted home fits the bill. After researching log home companies
online, Margaret knew the massive western red cedar logs of Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia were the perfect fit for her cliff-side retreat. “Pioneer knows how to grow them,” she says. “And they cut them way low to the root area, so you get those big ends that splay out.”
The rich character of the large-diameter logs, ranging in size from 12 to 25 inches, with their knots, burls and root flares take center stage, while dark-stained Douglas fir timbers, tongue-and-groove paneling and knotty alder trim and cabinetry
add contrast. “There is a coordination to it, having all of the woods working together,” she says.
To master the art, Margaret looks to nature as her teacher. “When you look at the outside world, you see different trees together; I’m looking at juniper trees alongside ponderosa pines,” she says. “You should have different wood species in the same house, too.”
Because allowing nature to guide the house is the basis of Margaret’s design
philosophy, she settled on a three-wing floor plan that promotes sight lines to the horizon from every room. “The three gable rooflines — master bedroom
, living room
and dining room
— at the rear of the home are at 45-degree angles to each other to maximize the site’s 270-degree views,” explains Pioneer’s lead designer Roy Keats.
While nature was the muse, it also presented the biggest challenge in this design: literally building between a rock and hard place — in this case, a sheer drop-off. “We had a 50,000-pound jackhammer hammering out the granite face for six months to create a building pad for the house,” says the home’s builder Paul Stinson. The solution makes the home feel practically at one with nature. “When you look out the front of the home, the only thing you see is a huge rock," says Margaret. "The top of the porte cochère is only four inches from that rock.”
And, it’s not just the sights that reinforce the oneness with nature. The sounds do, too. “You hear these pops and crackles from the logs settling, and you go, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a living house. These logs are still alive and doing a job!’” exclaims Margaret. “When you are in the house, you are inside nature. It’s simply amazing.”
Margaret’s awe — especially in light of her world travels — is a testament to how special this home really is. “It’s like a base camp. You come back here to recharge,” she says. “Everywhere else you have been is fun and great to see, but this is home.”
Square Footage: 5,000
Log Provider: Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia
Tour the North Carolina Log Home
Log posts set into stone column bases anchor the porte cochere, while a network of dark walnut-stained timbers give a sense of the beauty to come when you walk through the front door.