Story Time

A Georgia family writes its own history in a new log cabin.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Everywhere you look, an antique clock evokes memories of a simpler time. There’s the grand hotel clock standing regally in the dining room. A clock that once hung in a one-room schoolhouse keeps time in the great room. And there’s a whole gaggle of clocks—each with its own history—lining the log staircase. For Dan and M.J. Stiers, these vintage touches to their log home represent the end of one story—and the beginning of another.

The new story began when neighbors invited the couple to see their new property on Goose Island. Part of a 50-home community in Cherry Log, Georgia, the lot had the air of a nature preserve: lush forests, wandering wildlife and a rambling river. "Once we crossed the covered bridge to the island, we knew we'd found the perfect spot for a log home of our own," says M.J. "It was so beautiful and peaceful." Soon after, the couple attended log home shows and open houses searching for a building partner, which turned out to be StoneMill Log Homes of Knoxville, Tennessee. "We wanted an authentic-looking, old-time cabin, so their construction style appealed to us," M.J. explains. "We especially loved the chinking between the logs."

Building Blocks

"We started with our standard Belmont plan," says Mathew Sterchi, vice president of sales and marketing for StoneMill. "But the floorplan was smaller than the couple wanted, so we made it a bit deeper." StoneMill incorporated high ceilings, gable windows and an open loft area into the home's design to maximize space. They also combined the main floor’s two bedrooms into a master suite, enlarged the kitchen and added a screened-in porch that's accessible from the kitchen and the master bedroom. And thanks to the property’s slope, the couple added a huge day-lit basement?almost doubling their living space to just over 2,500 square feet. "We wanted an open floorplan that could accommodate family gatherings," says M.J. "Our floorplan gives us so much room, the home seems bigger on the inside than the outside." Creekside Construction stacked the logs (6-by-12-inch hand-hewn western hemlock from Canada and the Pacific Northwest with dovetailed corners and 4-inch joinery) and made the home weather-tight by installing the roofs and dormers before the interior finish work was started. "The crew from Creekside really made our home look like an old-time cabin," says Dan Stiers, who acted as general contractor.

Back in Time

Then came the personal touches, including the antique clocks M.J. had inherited from her father and a collection of vintage rolling pins she displayed in the dining room. The bathroom boasts a claw-foot bathtub that M.J.’s sister found while refurbishing a home in Scio, Ohio. And the Stiers’ grandchildren have an easy time "playing school" with a collection of 19th century classroom desks in the daylight basement. Rounding out the look are a few "newer" pieces like a wood-burning stove in the great room and an Amish-crafted Dutch-style door in the dining room. These historical objects blend beautifully with the home’s contemporary amenities, such as the stainless steel kitchen appliances and the flat-screen television in the great room. "Hanging the TV on the wall is a real space-saver in a cabin this size," says M.J., who chuckles and adds, "Just about every man who sees it falls in love."

Today the carefully placed antiques aren’t the only residents with stories to tell. The Stiers continue writing their own history in this log home?and one of their favorite stories took place just before Thanksgiving a few years back. "We lost power and ended up telling the kids stories by gaslight," says M.J. "We told them all about how people lived in cabins in ’the old days’ without electricity. And when the power came on a few hours later, we flipped the switch and kept the gaslights burning."

For more information on how the Stiers decorated their rustic guest house, check out the April 2005 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.