Combined Effort

How do you design a custom wood home to meet the specific requests of a husband and wife?

Rear elevation of the Ohliger home

The combined talents of the Ohligers brought out their best to create the ultimate log home retreat. With Steve’s technical know-how and Judy's design flair, their spectacular home — high in the North Carolina mountains — is a seamless synthesis of art and technology. The conductor for this orchestrated creation was Dominick Minotti Jr. of Wahconah Log Homes, a representative for Yellowstone Log Homes. With his background and knowledge of the local construction business, he listened carefully to the Ohligers’ requests and set out a plan to build their home. “We started with literally a piece of note book paper when I met the Ohligers at their site,” Minotti says. “I began to draw the plan while listening to Judy and Steve so that I could capture all of their ideas and incorporate them into the home. Each had specific requirements.” The home was to include lots of sunlight through the many windows and artful lamps found throughout the home. “It was vital that we have enough light in our log home,” says Judy. “Knowing that logs absorb rather than reflect light, we added 50% more fixtures than what was originally intended. We wanted it to be warm and welcoming and not dark and cave-like.”

The windows were designed to be wide and arched for a softened effect and better views

The windows were designed to be wide and arched for a softened effect and enlarged wherever a view could be gained. For a touch of elegance, each window and doorway is framed with polished maple trim that stands out from the hand-hewn Engelman spruce walls. Steve’s input included placing outlets every six feet rather than the standard 10 feet. “My background is in engineering and easily spot practical areas to improve and make life easier,” says Steve. He also increased plumbing sizes, enlarged the doorways, widened the deck, and insisted on three separate heating zones based on room need and location. Other practical changes continued. Judy enlarged the pantry, and Steve enlarged the mechanical room. Where Steve enjoyed the strength and notching of the log walls and trusses, Judy added curves and angles with alcoves in two of the bedrooms, a subtle prow in the great room and two gazebos on the deck to soften the look.

“Although we might look at things differently, we work well together and even share a work space on the second floor,” Judy says. The room is a robust 565 square feet and splits time as Steve’s office and Judy’s sewing studio. Judy’s appreciation of quilts that she sews goes hand in hand with her love of antiques. She’s decorated the home with several family heirlooms. A 200-year-old wing back chair in the great room offers one of the best seats in the house, overlooking the Smoky Mountains. Several old wood and cane rockers provide comfort and style. Her prized piece is a Sheraton-style secretary desk located in the home’s library in the loft. With all the challenges along the way and the decisions that had to be made, the couple navigated together to meet their goal. “Having lived in other homes, you soon learn what can be done better in the next house,” states Steve. “I wanted to make sure this home would continue to work efficiently well into the future.”