Planning a Retirement Masterpiece

A couple builds a grand-looking, timber-frame-like log home.

The great room is a masterpiece all its own within the log home

A few years ago, Chicagoans Jon and Patti Weitzel decided, like many Americans, to retire to a warmer climate. On the way to a golf trip in Myrtle Beach, they stopped in North Carolina and fell in love with the beauty and history of the area, the Blue Ridge Mountains, higher elevations, and cooler temperatures. One particular mountain offered all they wanted: a quiet community, seasonal colors, hiking, and golf. The development on Grandfather Mountain, near Banner Elk, was thick with rhododendrons and several rivers running through many of the 55 lots. “It wasn’t a hard decision to make,” Jon says.

The next decision was a bit harder. “We love the look of exposed structural beams and wood and wanted a home that gave us that rustic feeling,” says Jon. “We started out wanting a timber frame home and did a lot of reading and visiting home shows to gain more knowledge on this building style.” “We discovered we wanted the beams, plus all the wood, and a timber frame home had more drywall than wood,” explains Patti. “But as we turned our sights to log homes, the number of companies to choose from increased and so did our confusion. There were many wood choices and styles and we hadn’t even talked about the design.” Several months later, and after many trips to local model homes, the Weitzels’ research paid off. They selected Kuhns Bros. Log Homes — the combination of kiln-dried logs for better construction and one-stop shopping for all components made the Weitzels feel at ease.

Front exterior view of the home

“The service they provided from start to finish was what impressed us the most,” says Jon. They selected the 8-inch-by-8-inch Eastern white pine D-log that gave the exterior of the home an authentic look, while the interior had the flat side of the log for easy decorating. With the producer and materials in place, the floor plan design phase was next and was was the most exciting stage for the couple. Their goal was to create a functional home with classic lines, but make a notable first impression when you pulled in the driveway. The story-and-a-half style they choose is a timeless look that provides for a full-length front porch and lots of options on the inside. The top priority for Jon and Patti was an open first floor with space for the whole family at one time — four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The spacious dining area provides enough room for the whole family

“We wanted space above and below for our family and wanted our master suite and laundry room located on the main level,” Patti says. They also requested an oversize garage for easy entry into their cars. The 26-by-24-foot space allows for lots of accessible shelving for woodworking and gardening tools. It also provided ample raftering for a bonus room above the garage, which is now an area exercise equipment and TV space for the grandkids. When you look around the home, you really notice the wood: king trusses above the great room and extended porch, warm full-length walls, reclaimed wood floors polished to a glowing luster.    

More about this home, plus floor plans, ran in the magazine.SaveSave