Sometimes the home you've always dreamed of building has already been built for you.
Building a brand new custom log home is an adventure many people wouldn't trade for the world. But there's also something to be said for buying an existing log home that already has a little "history" behind it, a home that holds as many fond memories for the previous owners as you hope it will one day hold for your family.
David and Bonnie Beatty were lucky to find such a place when they bought their Salisbury, Maryland, house from local Hearthstone builder/dealer, Dave Bush. "It was exactly the house Bonnie and I had spent a lot of time looking for and eventually would have built ourselves, if this one had not come on the market," David explains. "We consider ourselves very lucky to have found it." It is easy to understand their enthusiasm. The old-fashioned looking log house is located on 3 acres of rural property not far from the Maryland coastline. This location affords the couple plenty of land on which they can indulge their passion for gardening in the spring, summer and fall. And since they are close to the beach, they enjoy the gentle breezes that waft through the soft ocean air. "We feel like we live in a year-round vacation house," says David.
Though their proximity to the shore certainly makes for enjoyable summer entertainment, it's during the winter when this house really comes to life. "The holidays are the perfect time to live in a log home," explains David. "Bonnie really makes the season special in our house. She decorates every room with handmade objects and spends hours trimming our large, live tree. I grew up in Philadelphia, so for me, owning this house and having this much land is like living on the Ponderosa."
Modeled on the Past, Built for the Present
The couple's 2,100-square-foot house is a basic two-level Cape Cod based on Hearthstone's Pioneer model. When Dave originally built the home for his family 15 years ago, his goal had been to emulate a rustic 100-year-old farmhouse. He made some minor changes to his company's original design, especially in the dining room, where he eliminated a few windows and an exterior door. In their place he inserted a large garden window. The changes were based on his family's lifestyle, but almost two decades later, they were also exactly what David and Bonnie were looking for.
The home's 8-by-10-inch rough-cut pine walls feature dovetailed corners, which is Hearthstone's signature profile. Outside, the logs are finished in a color called "gentry gray," which gives the home a time-tested, weathered appearance. Inside, the walls are a more typical honey-tinged hue. Thick chinking inside and out recalls a pioneer-style home for which the design is aptly named.
Though patterned after log homes of yore, the design's open floorplan is completely modern and was one of the primary reasons David and Bonnie were drawn to this home. The large kitchen is accessible from both the living and dining rooms. This lets David and Bonnie talk to guests while cooking and serving, a feature that holds great appeal to the couple. They use the main level's two bedrooms as a guest room and a home office.
Contributing to the house's rustic feeling are the cedar shake roof and the dormers containing double-hung wood windows with snap-in grills that provide divided light. Random-width tongue-and-groove pine flooring offers a primitive touch as well. The floorboards range from 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches wide and are fastened with antique-style cut nails that add to its character.
It's this type of subtle detailing that appealed to the Beattys. David loves living in a home that he views as "really somewhat different from the norm." He does have one "slight problem," however. "I tend to lean against walls, and I have to remember the possibility of splinters," he jokes.
All the Trimmings
The Beattys have created an old-fashioned homestead tastefully furnished in Bonnie's simple decorating style. Comfort is the overriding aim. Overstuffed upholstered couches and club chairs surrounding the stone hearth welcome visitors, especially at Christmastime when the living room is alive with color. Most of the furnishings are country style, with simple lines and pine accents. David and Bonnie have managed to fill their rooms with family treasures while still retaining an airy, uncluttered space.
Bonnie decorated the bedrooms in a simple style. The master bedroom's four-poster bed is covered in a large red, white and blue plaid coverlet. The true beauty of this room can be found overhead in the hand-hewn rafters and truss system.
But it's not just the decor that makes this home so comfortable. A propane-fired HVAC system provides winter heat plus central air conditioning for the humid summer days that are common when you live on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
If David and Bonnie had built this house themselves, they would have made the back porch slightly deeper. Aside from that, they are delighted with every aspect of their home. That's not to say they don't have a few home-improvement projects up their sleeves. For the immediate future, the couple hopes to finish the basement. "It would provide ideal space for me to work on my hobby-collecting model trains-and for Bonnie to have a sewing room," David says. There's no question that David's model trains will become an integral part of future Christmas festivities.
Finding the perfect family house was a stroke of luck for David and Bonnie, and they relish the quiet peace that the house has brought them. Clearly, the couple has found paradise.
For resource information, see the December 2003 issue of Log Home Living.
Story and Photography by Franklin and Esther Schmidt