A quarter-century ago, Ron and Linda Dudley built their “big house” on a 50-acre spread in Cartersville, Georgia. They still love that house, but a few years back, the couple decided it was time to downsize. So they let their son and daughter-in-law take residence in the big house, and they built a log home—100 yards from their original homestead.
After visiting several model homes constructed by Wellborn, Florida-based Suwannee River Log Homes
, Ron and Linda were believers. They decided on the popular “Manatee” floorplan, because of its smaller footprint.
A 2,116-square-foot home consisting of three bedrooms, two baths and a loft, the plan was almost perfect, but the couple worked with the company to make a few layout tweaks. With help from Suwannee River sales representative Michael Morrison, the Dudleys opted for a master bedroom suite on each floor in place of the third bedroom. They started building in the spring of 2005 and moved in that October. The Dudley home is built with 6-by-8-inch square cypress logs harvested from southern Florida. With a chinking groove on the exterior profile, the courses are connected with 16-inch lag bolts, which, according to Ron, could withstand a tornado.
In fact, says Mike, Suwannee River has been building log homes since 1984 and has yet to lose a house to a storm, including Hurricanes Andrew, Charlie and Katrina. Although the couple had intended to drywall parts of the house, they scrapped those plans once installation of the tongue-and-groove knotty pine siding began. Ron and Linda liked the look (and the woodsy aroma) of the knotty pine so much that they had the crew install the decking throughout the interior. They sanded the entire house, and then Ron applied his very own mixture of Minwax stain in Golden Oak combined with satin polyurethane finish, which created a lighter hue. The Dudleys also decided to forgo walls between the kitchen and the great room, resulting in an open design. A two-story fireplace, built with Tennessee fieldstone and adorned with a split-cypress mantel, graces the great room. Oriental rugs add vibrant highlights underfoot, while the ceiling fans overhead are all manufactured by Hunter Fan Co. The couple had to bypass the big-box retailers and go directly to the ceiling-fan company for its original cast-iron design.
“With just a little care, those fans will last forever,” says Ron.
The Dudleys and Suwannee River Log Homes
got along famously. “They were great to work with,” Mike says. “They understood that when you’re building a house there may be a few glitches, and they were always there to help find constructive solutions.” Suwannee River builders had a special affection for Ron, who would take them to Doug’s Place, a down-home restaurant up the road, and treat them to lunch nearly everyday. He also endeared himself to the building crew by renting a forklift for their use, an uncommon luxury for the four-man team. It does seem as though Ron likes to please.
After a considerable amount of cajoling from Linda, Ron built her bookshelves in the loft to house her huge collection of books, including 200 leather-bound volumes by Western storyteller Louis L’Amour, who also was a log homeowner. And for the perfect spot to read all those books? “We added a roof to the private balcony off the bedroom,” says Ron. “That put the finishing touch on the house for her.” Now, neither one of them could be happier with their decision to relocate