A Home in Tennessee

Florida couple finds tranquility among the hills.

Couple Finds Log Home Living Among the Rolling Hills of Tennessee

by Tia Copas, Honest Abe Log Living

Tom and Kathy Daniel are from Pinellas County, Fla., but they are now at home in Tennessee.

Tom was born there and Kathy moved there when she was 13. Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in all of Florida with 3,334 people per square mile. Both Tom and Kathy were fed up with the crowds, traffic, noise and light pollution for some time. Also, Tom was at the point in his life where he wanted to sell his business and do something more than being a workaholic.

Daniel-Honest-AbeTom and his best friend Al wanted to look for a large piece of property that they could hunt and recreate on and by chance stumbled onto a website that was advertising land in Clay County Tennessee. After a phone call and the purchase of plane tickets Kathy and Tom along with Al and his wife Pam set out for Clay County to meet with a realtor.

Tom explained how it all came to be.

“We had a four day weekend to look around and after two days we were about to give up because nothing was close to exciting us. But then the realtor took us on a short cut from one piece of property to another which turned out to be Brimstone Creek Rd. It followed along a large creek and the gravel road was covered with a canopy of trees and it was amazingly beautiful. Kathy spoke out that THIS is what she like and I quickly agreed with her. The realtor must have took note of it because after she dropped us off that evening she contacted Marc Carlyle who owned 1700 acres along Brimstone Creek Rd. and asked him if he would sell it. I am pretty sure that is what happened because first thing the next morning she told us the property was not listed but he was ready to sell it and had scheduled us to look at it.”

The property was very rugged timber property with lumber roads cut all over it and rock walls and creeks every where. They fell in love with it and had a contract for half of the 1,700 acres in the works before the group went home.

As soon as they bought the property and started to explore all the lumber trails, creeks, ridge top views, water falls and endless natural beauty, it became Tom’s favorite place to be.

“Now the problem became how to take a city, mall-loving girl like Kathy into the woods. One of her favorite things to do is decorate so I decided that a log home might be the carrot to do it, but it would have to be a very special one to make this work,” Tom said.

As it turned out Honest Abe Log Homes was 15 minutes down the road.

When asked how they learned about Honest Abe, Tom replied, “We learned about Honest Abe from the realtor and by driving by their plant while looking at properties. We stopped in and grabbed some literature while on the run so we could look at floor plans and dreamed about what we should come up with. After we closed on the property the thought process became more serious and I started to talk to a couple of customers of mine that has recently been through the log home process. Both said that they felt that Honest Abe was reputable and they had not come across any thing negative in their research.”

At that point they decided to go back and meet with someone who could go over the entire process, floor plans and prices. That is when they meet their sales person, Inez Price, who the couple thought was very knowledgeable. She talked about the different types of construction such as open beam, which is what they decided to go with. She explained how the large timber beams supported 2×6 tongue and groove which created a beautiful ceiling, and that R-30 foam board insulation was placed over that and screwed down with 2×4 firing. Then plywood was nailed over the firing creating a vented air space which kept heat and moisture from building up. After that the shingles were applied over the plywood completing the single assembly system. Being in the insulation business for over 30 years and a student of building science, Tom knew this was an extremely energy efficient design.

Tom recalled how the design evolved.

“We found a plan that was very close to the look and floor plan we wanted but it had some issues we could not live with, such as very little master closet space and a cramped master bath with only one sink. So we took the floor plan back to St. Petersburg and meet with Daniel Dawson, the architect who designed our current house, which we are very pleased with. He extended both end of the house out several feet which at one end gave us a much larger master suite with a walk in closet and double sink and vanity. It gave us enough room for a nice size shower and a cast iron slipper tub as well. At the other end it expanded the kitchen and dinning room which is amazing because we use the house for family gatherings during the holidays. We had a 12 foot custom table built that seats 14 and the kitchen is so large that no one is bumping into one another when creating a Thanksgiving feast. Also he expanded the family room out by cutting into some of the outdoor deck which as oversized at that spot anyway. Furthermore one of our MUST have’s was an out door living room with a real stone fireplace, and one of the options Honest Abe showed with our model was a detached family room connected by a breeze way. We had them build it with out the walls and add the fireplace. With these changes it now became OUR house. Honest Abe was able to accommodate the changes and the rest is history.“

Now that the seed was planted, Tom need to get Kathy on board so just the two of them came up there one weekend and drove around the property to find the perfect place to build it.

“I had a lot more experience with the property because Al and I had spent several weekends up there exploring and recreating, and I had found what I thought would be the perfect spot but I didn’t want to influence her decision so I did not share it with her. I first took her up on the ridge tops, and we looked at several choices with a nice view but neither one of us was floored by it. So I drove her past my chosen location and as we drove by it she pointed to it and said I think that wood be a perfect spot. We laughed when I told her that was already my choice as well,” Tom said.

The house is now there and it speaks for itself and the location was perfect. Turn off of Brimstone Creed Rd. onto their driveway which parallels Little Brimstone Creek for a half mile thru the woods until you come into a clearing where the hollow opens up and there is the house sitting up on the side of the mountain with a drainage creek on both sides of it that runs into the creek bellow when it rains. Tom said the view from their house is looking down into the creek. The water noises are very relaxing when the feeder creeks and main creek are running. There is also a waterfall behind the house when there is a good rain that adds to it all.

Tom praised Honest Abe.

The construction process with Honest Abe was wonderful. Their crew chief Joe had an old school work ethic and every thing went together nicely. I have since retired and have had the time to work out all the issues and it is now perfect. When we started this process it was our intention to move to Tennessee but keep our Florida home as our vacation home. But by the time we finished the house our daughter gave birth to our first Grandchild, Avery, and the Tennessee home became our vacation home. So the only thing I would have done different is find a place closer than the 12-hour drive to Clay County, Tenn. Also, I wish I had done more research on who to use to finish the house when Honest Abe turned it over to me to finish. Honest Abe would have given better advise than I received from the realtor.”

As far as the stain color, the couple had an idea of what they wanted but Inez helped to fine tune their choices, and they are still very happy with it.

When asked what their favorite room is, Tom replied, “Our absolute favorite room is the outdoor living room, and we spend most of our time in front of the fireplace. Because it is outside the only time of year we can’t have a fire is the summer. The climate here has cool nights in the spring and fall even if the days are warm. We sit there and enjoy the peace and quite. All you hear during the day is the birds and the wind blow. At night we listen to the hoot owls and the coyotes howl. Because our closest neighbor is a mile or two away and no street lights, the sky is alive with stars to the point you can see the milky way and a constant barrage of falling stars. One night we saw the space station go over and it felt like you could reach out and grab it. My city girl now calls this her happy, peaceful place. I call it heaven. The kitchen and dinning room is our second favorite place because this is where the family interacts, and it is large enough for everyone. Then the family room with the high exposed beam ceilings and huge stone fireplace is a cozy place to relax on cold winter days, this is where Kathy loves to curl up and read a book. We have a large flat screen TV over the fireplace which works out nicely because it doesn’t take up any space.”

Tom shared other benefits of his Tennessee home.

“Kathy and I love to take long walks through the woods with our lab, Roxy, and the 900 acres with timber trails is perfect for this. The ground is straight up and down so you get lots of exercise along the way. My best friend and I like to deer and turkey hunt and the property is perfect for both. When we are at our log home in the middle of nature it is our happy place. The warmth of the knotty pine walls and the distressed hickory floors is amazing. All the furniture, lamps accessories are hand picked antiques. One of our favorite things to do is take day trips to different towns to antique shop and bring back another treasure to hang on the wall. Because of the fireplaces, wood beams, walls and ceilings, our friends call it the lodge, and our entire family looks forward to spending the holidays there. We have quads and ATVs, to ride and the property is the perfect place to enjoy it all.”