Maurice and Elfi Fliess didn’t take the same path that most log home owners traverse. It’s common that people will dream for decades and research for years before building their perfect log home. They will visit manufacturers across the country, attend trade shows in their nearest metro area and even tour other people’s homes before starting the process. It’s an exciting and rewarding journey for many. Yet, some happen upon log homes in a very different way.
Maurice and Elfi had lived in conventionally framed homes all their married life together. Moving from the Washington, D.C., area to Nashville, Tennessee, over a decade ago, they did as most would and located a nice brick home in a suburban area of “Music City, USA.” As a few years passed, the couple began thinking more about retirement. The hustle-and-bustle of their neighborhood didn’t fit the lifestyle they envisioned for themselves, so they began to search for the perfect piece of property. The target was a private lot with decent acreage, while remaining in the suburbs close to Nashville.
Deep into Hidden Valley Estates, bordering on the Brentwood city limits, sat a property on a cul-de-sac that immediately caught the couple’s eye: an Honest Abe log home. “It was perfect,” stated Maurice. “The area was private, yet in a neighborhood that was five minutes from a local mall and just twenty minutes from Nashville. We could hear no traffic. It was just quiet and peaceful.”
There was a home-for-sale sign on the cul-de-sac, and Maurice used his cell phone to call the listing agent. Although the agent said the sign pertained to a brick home on a “pipestem” road branching off the cul-de-sac, the Realtor said he knew the owners of the log home and the frame home next door – and one soon would come on the market. Needless to say, the couple was excited. Maurice noted, “Aside from reading a few log-home magazines from time to time, Elfi and I had never seriously considered a log home, but it looked so natural in its surroundings up on that hill.” From that moment on, the couple began to hope it would be the house offered for sale.
Jump ahead a few weeks, and the couple was back in the neighborhood – this time with the Realtor. The day before, the log home had been placed on the market. Maurice and Elfi were the first to tour the home, even beating the “For Sale” sign to the property. Maurice recalls, “We walked up the stairs to the front porch, turned around and were stunned by the view, and then we entered through the front door and saw the log walls and exposed beams in the living room. I turned to Elfi and whispered, ‘This is beautiful.’ ” Elfi whispered back, “This home moves me.” The next morning, an offer was made to the home’s original owners, and they accepted. Maurice and Elfi were soon to be log home owners.
While the property was perfect, the house needed their own personal touches to make it home. Since it was built in 1983, a few updates and improvements were not going to hurt, either. The couple removed carpet, choosing to replace it with more hardwood and tile. New asphalt shingles were installed, and a number of appliances and bathroom fixtures were updated. Skylights were added in the kitchen and on the front porch. In addition, some exterior work was done – giving the home a fresh coat of stain, painting shutters and trim, and other projects. Once completed, their twenty-one-year-old log home looked practically new.
As Elfi and Maurice settled into their new home, their love for it grew. “Our home is nothing like what you see in a conventional home,” commented Elfi. A passion could be heard in her voice as she described how the morning sun shines into their home, traveling down the log walls and reflecting a warm, golden light. The couple quickly took to their new lifestyle. Elfi, an excellent cook, now prepares soups and stews on a small, wood-fired stove they use to augment the heating of the home during the winter. About five of their more than eight acres are wooded, enabling them to harvest dead timber to fuel the stove. In the spring and summer, they maintain a one-hundred-square-foot garden, growing herbs and their favorite vegetables. “It’s all organic,” noted Elfi. “We deposit food scraps and lawn materials into a compost bin throughout the year.” They also planted a perennial flower garden out front.
The couple has found the home great for entertaining. With plenty of room at about 2,600 square feet, the home features a vaulted eat-in kitchen, a high-ceiling living room, a den, four bedrooms (one serving as an office) and three full baths, plus a screened back porch, the front porch and an attached two-car garage leading to the kitchen. Guests also enjoy an abundance of wildlife on the scenic property. “We once counted 52 wild turkeys in our yard,” says Maurice. “We commonly see deer, have hawks soaring above, and it’s not unusual to hear owls during the evenings.” Elfi loves the way guests feel when they visit. “They compare staying here to a vacation at a bed and breakfast, and it never gets old to see how taken people are with the home.” Another improvement the couple has made is a large flagstone patio area just off of the back porch. “That area gets shade late in the day, so it’s perfect for having guests over and enjoying late afternoons outside.” But as daylight fades, everyone retreats to the west-facing front porch to watch the sun set behind the hills of Middle Tennessee.
At the time the home was built, Honest Abe only had one log style, known today as the Original Log System. The log is 6” x 10”, and has a chinking joint as seen in the photos. The home was recently inspected for the couple’s insurance company to obtain an updated replacement cost estimate. The hired inspector, John Roach, a qualified builder of conventional and log homes in the area, commented afterward, “Not many homes today are built this well.”
One thing is for certain. Log homes have traditionally stood the test of time. Rachel Meadows, Vice-President of Sales, noted, “While Honest Abe may be in the business of building new log homes for customers, seeing our older homes perform and last so well is a credit not just to Honest Abe but to the log home industry as a whole. It’s rewarding to us to see people like Maurice and Elfi find such joy in something we helped create and build decades ago.”
Article by: Joshua Beasley, Honest Abe Log Homes
Editors Note: Special thanks to the homeowners, Maurice & Elfi Fliess, for their beautiful photography and contributions to this story.