Country Comfort

A North Carolina couple builds a retirement retreat.

The peaceful patio on the Rorer's log home

After Jim Rorer took up trout fishing to relieve stress, one of his outings took him to Helton Creek, the Blue Ribbon Trout Steam in western North Carolina. He noticed a for-sale sign on a fence post. “The 26-acre parcel had been in the farmer’s family for several generations, but he was in need of cash for other ventures,” Jim recalls. “The price was a bit steep for my budget, but the owner agreed to finance the transaction. Right then and there, we wrote out a contract on a piece of paper and sealed the deal with a handshake. That’s how the old-timers do things in the North Carolina mountains.”

Now that Jim and his wife, Mary, owned land where they could build a second home, the only question was what kind of home. Jim and a potential contractor were standing at the top of the ridge enjoying the panoramic view of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. “He just looked at me and said, ‘It would be a sin to build anything here but a log cabin’. That was the revelation I needed,” Jim says. It so happened that Jim and Mary had friends who sold log homes. Pete and Jackie Pyles own Country Comfort Homes and are independent dealers for Appalachian Log Homes of Knoxville, Tennessee. Pete and Jim knew each other from when Pete built Jim’s hardware store. Pete encouraged the Rorers to look at other companies. They did, but found no reason to choose another company. Jim says the clincher was seeing how well the Pyleses’ 15-year-old log home had held up.

A cozy sitting area with overstuffed chairs and a relaxing view

By this time, Jim had sold his business and Mary had retired. Jim decided that his engineering background and years in the hardware business qualified him to act as general contractor for the project. Since the Rorers’ permanent residence is more than two hours away, Jim bought a 33-foot camping trailer to live in while he was on site and set about building their log cabin. Pete asked the Rorers for a basic design and the dimensions of all of their major pieces of furniture and then used a computer-assisted design program to lay out the rooms, the location of the windows and doors, and all of the wiring. “This allows me to give the home a sense of proportion and symmetry and assures the light for the dining room table will be exactly over the center of the table,” Pete explains. On the 1,000-square-foot main level, Jim and Mary situated their open great room, kitchen, dining area and sunroom.

The master bedroom suite includes a two-room bath—one with the vanity and washer-dryer, the other with the tub and commode. The 600-square-foot second story is finished with a loft sitting area and a guest bedroom and bath for when their daughter and her two children visit. “My pride and joy in this home is the 400-square-foot bedroom and bath that I finished myself in the walk-out basement,” Jim says. “This gave me a great sense of accomplishment.” Much more about this home ran in the magazine.