House Hunting

The wilds of Tennessee fuel one man’s passion for hunting game and the perfect log home.

by Mary Beth Temple, Log Home Design, April 2008

Desocio-porchPete DeSocio fell in love with his land long before he ever owned it. The property in Henry, Tenn., once belonged to a business-associate turned friend, and Pete had spent many happy days there indulging his longtime passion for hunting. So, when he bought the property and it came time to build a home of his own, a log home was Pete’s first choice.

“Log homes are an art form,” says Pete. “Luckily, we picked a builder who has mastered that art.”

That builder is Larry Bell, a contractor with 32 years of experience building log homes. He’s also spent the past 16 years of them as a dealer for Tennessee-based Honest Abe Log Homes. When they first met to discuss ideas for the home, Pete and his wife, Trish, were pleased to find how hands-on Larry was as a contractor.Desocia-Cabin-Floorplan

“It’s a big advantage to draw the plans by hand, not by computer,” says Larry. “This way, I know everything about the house before I begin building it.”

But even with the careful considerations the DeSocios and Larry put into the design, some changes still were made once the project got underway.

“We must have changed the plans 50 times!” says Larry, and Pete agrees — joking that they “started with the plan and made changes with a chain saw.” But, as Trish points out, eventually, everyone learned to leave well enough alone.

“In the beginning, we carefully chose every detail we wanted, but we had to let the house take on a few characteristics of its own during construction,” says Trish.

The biggest priority for the DeSocios was to maximize the living areas in the home to get the most bang for their buck. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any dead space in the 2,400-square-foot house — built-ins are tucked under the eaves in the loft, storage rooms are well placed over the master bedroom and the kitchen cabinets have interior fittings to store Trish’s extensive collection of kitchen utensils (she’s an avid cook). Over 2,000 square feet of decking adds ample room for outdoor enjoyment as well.

“When you’re talking about how much your home is going to cost per square foot, you don’t want to waste any space,” said Pete.ARCD-5065

As for the interior decor, both Trish and Pete had treasured items of their own that found a place in the new home, plus a few special pieces of furniture that were brought in for a touch of Southwestern flavor. The interior of the white pine logs were clear coated, not stained, so they’ll darken naturally with age, adding to the home’s rustic appeal. A spiral staircase leads to the loft, and the railings are easy to look through, keeping the main living areas of the home open and airy.

One very special design feature can be found in both of the home’s guest bedrooms.

Because Pete and many of his friends are avid hunters, each spare room has its own private entrance so the occupant can come and go in the wee hours of the morning without disturbing anyone else in the house. And while Pete and his pals continue to enjoy their favorite pastime, the DeSocios’ hunt for the perfect house has come to an end, thanks to their Tennessee trophy of a log home.

To visit the gallery of photos by Roger Wade and enjoy the styling for this article by Debra Grahl, click here.

Spin city. The spiral staircase, which is incorporated into the home’s great room, provides an efficient way of getting to the loft without infringing on the living area’s usable space. The open floorplan in the first-floor lends a comfortable feeling, thanks to the Southwestern and leather furniture arranged in a way that encourages cozy conversation.

Spin city. The spiral staircase, which is incorporated into the home’s great room, provides an efficient way of getting to the loft without infringing on the living area’s usable space. The open floorplan in the first-floor lends a comfortable feeling, thanks to the Southwestern and leather furniture arranged in a way that encourages cozy conversation.

From the inside out. One thing homeowners Pete and Trish DeSocio knew they wanted from the start was a lot of outdoor space—and they got it. With no neighbors in view for most of the year, both family and guests can spend their time enjoying more than 2,000 square feet of decks and patios whenever they like.

From the inside out. One thing homeowners Pete and Trish DeSocio knew they wanted from the start was a lot of outdoor space — and they got it. With no neighbors in view for most of the year, both family and guests can spend their time enjoying more than 2,000 square feet of decks and patios whenever they like.

Cutting Costs Without Cutting Corners

Trish DeSocio says that when trying to spend money wisely, build in time to do plenty of research. With so many variables that go into any log home, it pays to make sure you have all the available information at your fingertips before trying to make any sort of decision.

“Poor choices can turn out to be expensive,” said Trish. “Our intention was to have the best quality so that it would last us for years without looking dated.”

And, contrary to popular belief, the best quality is not always the most expensive choice. The DeSocios chose their wood flooring from a source recommended by their contractor, instead of a more expensive material they had found on their own.

“The floors turned out to be more beautiful than we had even expected,” says Trish. “We ended up with a better product that cost less.”

Keep in mind that affordability is a long-term issue, not one that’s only relevant while you’re building. Choosing features that might seem like a bit of a budget stretch at the time, but that will live a long and low-maintenance life while still looking beautiful, might be worth the upfront investment.

For example, the metal roof that the DeSocios chose, will save them money in the long run, since they won’t have to replace the roofing as often as, say, a shingled roof.

Room with a view. The master bedroom ensures that Pete and Trish can enjoy the glorious view without having to leave the comfort of their bed. The rich jewel-toned wall and the ornate textiles add elegant flair.

Room with a view. The master bedroom ensures that Pete and Trish can enjoy the glorious view without having to leave the comfort of their bed. The rich jewel-toned wall and the ornate textiles add elegant flair.

Cozy quarters. One of two built-in sleeping areas in the loft handles overflow guests and makes excellent use of what might otherwise be wasted space.

Cozy quarters. One of two built-in sleeping areas in the loft handles overflow guests and makes excellent use of what might otherwise be wasted space.

Gone country. This grouping on the side of the great room features an autographed acoustic guitar that Pete bought at a charity auction. T he clear-coated white pine logs and thick chinking create a neutral backdrop for the pieces.

Stripe it rich. Poplar wood laid on the diagonal adds interest to the walls and tub surround in the master bathroom. The floor is made of a heavy-duty porcelain tile with scalloped edges.

Stripe it rich. Poplar wood laid on the diagonal adds interest to the walls and tub surround in the master bathroom. The floor is made of a heavy-duty porcelain tile with scalloped edges.