With the end in sight, Kent and Midge Merrill add the finishing touches to their tiny log cabin in their Tennessee back yard.
Be Our Guest As construction wound down, Midge and I started to think about how were going to turn this empty cabin into a cozy guesthouse for our visitors to enjoy.Just like we wanted Hearthstone to create the exterior to look like it had been built a hundred years ago, we wanted our interior decor and finishing materials to have that same authentic Appalachian feel. While the crew was finishing up construction, I took on the task of designing, making and installing all of the doors and doorjambs, as well as the cabinets in the bathroom and kitchenette. I also cut and installed all of the downstairs flooring myself, sawing the 2-inch-thick timbers down to 1-inch boards and planing them to a finished thickness of just shy of an inch. Then I cut them into random widths and lengths and nailed them onto an Advantec subfloor. To make them look as authentic as possible, I used old-fashioned cut nails, made by machines that are more than 100 years old. During this time, Midge and I made our annual trek to an elegant, rustic resort called The Swag in Waynesville, North Carolina. That facility was built entirely from reclaimed logs and had lots of great ideas to steal. In fact, I designed our cabin’s door latches, pulls and hinges based on our experience at The Swag. We were fortunate to find a local master blacksmith named Jamie Tyree, who did an excellent job of crafting them for us. [gallery exclude="7490,20816"] When it was time to start decorating, Midge, who has an eye for interior design, really took the reins. For the most part, we avoided the cute cabin novelties. I recall many occasions when we’d come across an item and Midge would say, “That’s not what they would have had in their house,” referring to the 19th century mountain folks who first populated this area. It really set the standard for the items we chose for the cabin. One thing that we really wanted to include was all of our antiques. Midge put my mother’s heirloom cedar chest in the bedroom and covered it with a handmade pad so it could be used as a bench. She also sewed curtains from a 1927 quilt for the bedroom and a bathroom window treatment came from an old flour sack. A marble-top table that was a wedding present for my great grandmother has found a home in our sitting area in the loft we even fit an old blue Hoosier cabinet along the same wall in the kitchenette. Midge made sure everything was just right, all the way down to the tiniest details. For example, we’d talked about how plastic light-switch plates just weren’t going to look right in the rustic setting. Although I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, I added making wooden plates to my “honey–do” list. Well, you can imagine my surprise when Midge came home one day with a bag full of unfinished wooden socket and switch plate covers. She stained each one of them to match the wood where the switch was located. It was the perfect solution. We finally “moved in” to the cabin on May 1, 2007, and celebrated with a champagne toast and by spending the night in the guest bedroom. We also held an open house for all of our friends and neighbors. But, when it’s just us, we spend quite a bit of time over there sitting on the front porch with a good book. We hope to live the rest of our lives right here looking out at Cataloochee Cabin, named after our valley locale in the great Smokey Mountains. We hope it will stay in our family for generations, so my grandkids, who love to play on the porch and hike in the woods during their visits will live to see their grandkids enjoying the same. After all, everyone loves a log cabin … it is, indeed, something special.
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