In With the Old: An Old Look on a New Log Home

A North Carolina couple achieves a lived-in look for a new log home without the hassles of old age.

So, they struck a compromise and decided to build a new, "old-looking" house. The result: a 3,400-square-foot home, made from hand-hewn eastern white pine logs and a rusted-metal roof, which looks like it's been nestled among North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains for generations.

The home, with its intentionally disjointed aesthetic, also accomplishes Maryann's three guiding principles: "Give me old, ugly and comfortable."

Although the "ugly" factor is questionable, the Browns' home is undoubtedly comfortable, with plenty of vintage appeal. To create this look, Maryann worked for nearly three years with Hal Minick, a designer with Tennessee-based Hearthstone Homes, to create the unique design.

They chose square logs for the home to establish permanence and power. The home's center—a Colonial, in essence—is built from logs and includes the main living quarters, as well as two guest bedrooms and a children's loft upstairs. To achieve the appearance that the home has been added on to over the years, the main building is flanked by two wings.

For added contrast, each is encased with board-and-batten and the rooflines are juxtaposed with the main building. The first wing encompasses a master suite, while the second is home to a large pantry and a breezeway connecting the house to the garage. Vintage-quality, handmade brick in the chimney and supports lend to its historical charm.

Inside, many of Maryann's favorite antique pieces of furniture, such as a wardrobe in her master bath and a rosewood armoire in the foyer, add both statement and function.

"So many people are afraid to put formal antiques in a log home," she says. "The power of the logs, the wood tones—these antiques fit perfectly."

Instead of trendy granite kitchen counters, the Browns chose red oak and soapstone. Instead of drywall in the wings, they went with thick log veneers and board siding left over from the exterior. Maryann may call the home "ugly" because she has decided to employ effects such as peeling plaster on the master bedroom wall or peeling paint in the foyer, but what she really means is lived-in or cozy.

"I definitely don't like the matchy-matchy look," she says.

Case in point: the log walls in the kitchen and dining area, where she used seven different stains to provide each log with character. There's also the laundry room, where she painted five different shades of green over one another and scraped through the layers to give the logs an aged appearance. She also reupholstered antique furniture in muted mohair and convinced Kendrick that rusted-copper buckets were the most authentic type of sink.

"She certainly has a wonderful sense of humor and loves life," says Tommi Jamison, marketing manager for Hearthstone, who sold the Browns the Bob Timberlake log package, featuring pine logs that measure 6 to 8 inches wide and as much as 24 inches high. "When you want something close to what people built 200 years ago, you choose our Bob Timberlake line," says Tommi.

The Hearthstone crew stacked the logs, put up the girders, floor beams and interior ceiling, and provided the chinking. The Browns then brought in local craft builder Michael Champion to complete the project.

"He spent the time you want a builder to spend on the details," says Maryann about Michael's 15-month commitment to the job.

While Maryann remained true to her quest for an old home, she, Hal and Michael also worked together to allow for flexibility in the design, which equipped the home with modernized functionalities. For example, Hal suggested building an office under the stairs to utilize empty space.

Similarly, a loft was built above the guest bedrooms after Michael suggested knocking out a piece of ceiling. And Maryann hatched the idea for a circular driveway around the home. By attaching doors on both sides of the garage, she had created a convenient drive-through.

Says Tommi: "When people like Maryann come to us and say, 'This is what we want, but I don't think you can do it,' we say, 'No problem.' " It's that can-do attitude and friendly approach that let the Browns know that Hearthstone was perfect for the job. "We're a small company that does amazing things," says Tommi. "Our hometown doesn't even have a red light." Something suggests that Maryann wouldn't want it any other way.

Home Plan Details:

Square Footage: 3,400

Builder: Michael Champion Construction

Log Company: Hearthstone Inc.