Coming Home Again: A South Carolina Log Home

For one South Carolina couple, retirement is a return to their log home roots.

You don't have to dig too deep to discover why Joseph and Patricia Cioffi always knew their dream retirement home would be made of logs. Having spent his formative years in an old log cabin, Joseph has spent his entire adult life longing to get back to that rustic lifestyle.

Towering pecan trees frame the Cioffi home, set 350 feet back off a quiet road. For comfort and ease, the front steps, like the interior staircases, were specially designed deep and short with a minimum rise.

"I grew up in log home in western Pennsylvania that was built in 1853," explains Joseph. "The house was phenomenal. Big old logs and walls that were about 2-1/2-feet-thick and a constant, pleasant temperature all year round. My wife and I built several homes before, but when we retired we knew a log home is what we wanted." The Cioffis got their design inspiration, as many homeowners do, by combing through magazines and searching the Internet for ideas. But they also did a little hands-on research: They hit the pavement and knocked on doors.

The first time was by accident. "We stopped for directions at a log house we particularly admired," Joseph says. "The couple was proud of their home, and asked if we wanted to see it. We spent an hour and a half touring the place and had coffee with the couple. Then we said to each other, 'That worked so well we'll have to try it again some day.'" And they did. "We never had a door slam in our face. When you run into that kind of reception time after time, you get a warm feeling about people who live in log homes."

The family who owns the log home

After a few more home visits, the couple had come up with a pretty decent wish list. But before the couple had even settled on a plan, they settled on a log—tidewater red cypress. "Cypress is naturally insect- and rot-resistant. And it's very stable. It doesn't tend to twist, turn or warp," says Joseph.

What's more, its beautiful honey color darkens over time. "The grain stands out and improves with age," he says. Then the Cioffis selected the manufacturer, BK Cypress Log Homes of Florida. "We went to an open house and met everybody from the owner to the guy who sweeps the sawdust," Joseph recalls. "They knew what they were doing. We looked at their homes and were pleased with what we saw."

The open floor plan showcases a large cypress tree trunk in the living room area, which the Cioffis picked out personally from the mill. Jim Keeton, president of BK Cypress, says the "hand-peeled trunk with a bell-shaped bottom is the centerpiece of the room." The couple combined features of two models and added in their own design element—a hip roof made of metal, an unusual shape for a log home. "It sheds the wind better because you don't have wind blowing against the peaks," explains Joseph.

The D-shaped logs are 6-by-8 inches, round on the exterior and flat on the interior, with saddle-notch corners. With nearly 3,500 square feet, the resulting floor plan fits the couple's needs perfectly. The custom home includes a first-floor apartment suite for Patricia's father, James, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday. An expanded master bedroom is located on the second floor and the walkout basement houses a third bedroom.

—their favorites.

The lower level also has a workshop and den that lead out to a swimming pool—a great addition to the 12.5-acre property in Townsville, South Carolina, which Joseph says is reminiscent of the rolling landscape he grew up with in Pennsylvania. So maybe Thomas Wolfe had it wrong after all: you can go home again.

Home Plan Details:

Square footage: 3,490

Log provider: BK Cypress Log Homes