Once upon a time there was a 1,200-square-foot log cottage, smack in the middle of 33 acres of wildlife refuge tucked along the base of Georgia's famous Cold Mountain. A quarter-mile paved driveway began at a wrought-iron gate that wound through a horse pasture before starting its ascent up the mountainside to the home. Ancient evergreens, hardwoods, wild azaleas and rhododendron lined the steep drive all the way to the top. Sound like something out of a fairy tale? It is.
Lucky for the romance-seeking public, Joe and JoAnn Sisson have opened up their quiet getaway as a rental property and the sweet, one-bedroom-plus-loft cabin has already had its fair share of guests, all of whom rave about the setting as well as the structure. The Sissons even have a system for gauging just how much guests love the place. "I keep a book there for guests to write comments,"says JoAnn. "The first thing we do when we walk in the cabin after their departure is read what they had to say." Like most people, Joe and JoAnn, who happen to own the log home manufacturing company of Sisson, Dupont & Carder in Blue Ridge, Georgia, spent years dreaming about the cabin they would one day build. "Our search for just the right home design kept leading us back to a small community near Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina,"says JoAnn. "We found a house there that seemed perfect and would drive by it each time we were visiting the area."
On one such trip, the Sissons found owners Sonny and Joann DeCicco working in their yard and asked if they could look around and take a few pictures of their home. "They gave us ideas on things they would change if they built again,"says JoAnn. "We came home and, with the help of our daughters, began drawing the plans for our own cabin." The Sissons broke ground in Georgia in September 2007. Both Joe and JoAnn were out at the property nearly every day overseeing the progress and the whole family pitched in to help with the landscaping. Kids, grandkids, in-laws and friends hauled rock down off the mountain to surround the natural pond and construct a waterfall off the back screened-in porch.
By Christmas, the whole family was celebrating in front of the Tennessee fieldstone fireplace. With an area of about 14 by 20 feet, the home's main living room, with its cathedral ceilings, white pine beams and warm furnishings, is the heart of house. Random-width red oak was used for the flooring throughout the lower level and was lightly milled to accentuate saw marks left in the wood. "To further enhance the rustic nature,"says JoAnn, "cut nails were driven into the surface of the floors and left exposed." Even though the home's square footage is on the modest side, it doesn't skimp on functionality. In fact, the kitchen is both modern and spacious. The custom maple cabinetry was built by Boyd's Cabinets of Murphy, North Carolina, and stained red with black glaze. The deep color is a perfect complement to the smoke quartz countertops and the muted-palette tile backsplash. Just six miles from the Sissons' permanent residence, the home is a perfect retreat for the couple and their family, who all live close by.
Since opening it up as a rental, the cabin has seen two marriage proposals and countless weekends of pure relaxation. When asked what guests find most charming about the log cabin in the woods, the Sissons like to let the comments speak for themselves. "Your private, secluded piece of heaven was our perfect weekend getaway,"writes Gary, who stayed in the cabin with his fiance last September. "We fished, hiked and enjoyed letting go of all the worries of everyday life. P.S. I asked the love of my life to marry me, she said yes!"