A Cabin in the Woods


by Lyle Cater, Honest Abe Log Homes cabin owner

Where does this venture begin?  I think to tell the real story I have to go back to the beginning of Sarah’s and my life together. We were married on Dec. 9, 1989, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Both of us had been married for 30 years in a prior life. I was employed by a large Minnesota Manufacturer and located near their Saint Paul office. Sarah was in transportation sales business and was also located in the Minnesota Twin Cities area. For a number reasons, financial and otherwise, we decided to move to our cabin located on a lake in Wisconsin.

In many ways, the cabin had a small resemblance to our new log home. We had modified the building to include an extended living area and a small loft. The cabin met our needs for some time. However, with the addition of two golden retrievers, the lack of space slowly became an issue. We knew it would be hard to give up our gardens, remoteness and the cabin way of life, but in 1996 we retired, sold our cabin and moved to Florida.

A few years earlier we had purchased a small condo on the Gulf of Mexico. We moved into our condo, along with our two goldens, and tried out the beach life. I think Sarah was satisfied with the beach, but I was a little unsure and needed to find something else to do.

Within a short time, I had two offers for employment. One, I could demo golf clubs for a local distributor, or two, I could sell real estate. I loved golf. However, I thought it would be more productive to go the real estate route, so I went to work for a local beach realtor. Real estate moved slowly at first. However, between 2000 and 2006 the condo market went wild, and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

In 2003, Sarah and I purchased a home located on a gulf coast island. In 2004 our home, car, boat and everything we owned was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. We rebuilt on the same property. Later, I thought about how much I missed the cabin atmosphere, the joy Sarah and I had walking the dogs in the woods and the enjoyment of gardening .

We lived on the beach until 2020, and after another hurricane, we agreed it was time to make a move. Finances were not an issue, so we were free to do pretty much as we pleased. The “Cabin in the Woods” was the preferred decision for us.

We did a lot of research and in the end decided that central Arkansas in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains would be a great location for our home. Especially since our daughter lived there and graciously offered to deed us a perfect spot on her large wooded acreage to build on. In addition, our daughter would always be close to us if we ever needed help (a distinct possibility as we are in our mid-eighties). Another plus is some of our grandchildren are also close.

“A log home has always been on my bucket list. “

Lyle Cater, age 83

Modifications made to customize the Algood B for the Caters

  1. Extended the roof 10 feet to cover the front deck
  2. Moved the side deck to the opposite side for entry
  3. Added a side entrance porch
  4. Trapezoid windows designed by Anderson Windows
  5. All windows other than the trapezoids, provided by Pella
  6. Eliminated one bedroom on main level and expanded the bath and laundry
  7. Added numerous closets and book shelving on main level (entry, pantry, bath and bedroom)
  8. Added half bath and closet to loft
  9. Decks all Trex upgrade
  10. Staircase and deck railings upgraded design
  11. Modern gas fireplace with unique vent and air system

Additions by the Caters

  1. All hickory T/G flooring
  2. Tile bath and laundry
  3. 80 # block system to provide for raised flower garden, vegetable garden, entrance gate, center lot art and dog memorial
  4. 24X24 Garage with loft (log siding in and out to match cabin)
  5. Two storage buildings
  6. Landscaping
  7. Upgraded counter tops, cabinets, lighting fixtures and plumbing fixtures

Our earlier research had given us confidence that Honest Abe was the best choice. We picked out the Algood B design and were in the process of making a number of modifications. We worked closely with Mikayla and Mike Alderson (Arkansas Log Home Connection, an independent dealership for Honest Abe Log Homes) on design changes.

We met Mikayla, Mike and a local contractor who had too many other commitments to timely take on our project. However, he recommended a contractor in our area who had the experience in building log homes. The new contractor, Tony Patton Construction, was able to build our log home within our timeline. We also traveled to Moss, Tennessee , to look at Honest Abe models.

Mikayla and Mike were great to work with on the modifications, changes and upgrades, and we were able to keep the basic size of the Algood B design.

We started clearing the land in October of 2020 and moved into our new log home on June 15, 2021. The experience of working with Mikayla and Mike, Tony Patton and the engineers at Honest Abe has been great. Also, local suppliers like plumbing, electrical, lumber, granite, flooring, cabinet providers, landscaping, etc. There were times that it was a challenge, but it turned out fine.

I will close by saying how much Sarah and I love our new log home. The home fits our needs perfectly, and we plan to be here the remainder of our life. Just in case, we kept a condo in Florida for a winter escape and emergency use!

The Details

Location: Atkins, Arkansas

Manufacturer: Honest Abe Log Homes

Independent Dealer: Arkansas Log Home Connection

Year Completed: 2021

Log Profile Type: Round-Round Log Wall System

Roof System: Heavy Timber Construction/Metal Covering

Floor Plan: Honest Abe Algood B

Square Footage: 1,392.84

  • First Floor – 1024.11
  • Second Floor – 350.73
  • Deck – 390.6

Click on any image below to launch a slideshow of the Cater Cabin in the Woods.

 Photos by Sarah Cater

Q &A with Lyle and Sarah Cater

Why did you choose the Algood B plan?

We wanted an “A” frame that could be easily maintained and that was just large enough for the two of us. We started with Honest Abe’s Algood “B” plan then modified it to meet our requirements.

What drew you to your location in Arkansas?

The home is located in heavy woods in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. We were drawn to this location by the beauty and quietness of this area along with the fact that our one acre plot is part of our family’s land. We wanted to be close to one of our daughters and some of our grandchildren. We love the daily sighting of deer, turkey and a host of other wild animals. We even have two friendly albino squirrels that visit us daily.

Did you make any design choices to accommodate specific hobbies? 

We wanted a covered deck and a design that would accommodate my wife’s passion for raising and showing iris.

What makes this home special?

This is a rather small home that has every modern and upgraded convenience to satisfy retired couple that are looking for a low maintenance, high quality retirement retreat. I think the stairway and loft is the outstanding feature of this home. We fell in love with the modified loft, the covered deck and the special raised flower gardens. We made the loft our personal bedroom. It’s fantastic.

Would you do this again? 

No, we are in our mid-eighties.  However, if I did, I would choose the same dealer and Honest Abe.

How was your construction experience?

Great! Our contractor, Tony Patton Construction, was a joy to work with, and he was a very professional in unique finishing designs, etc.

Any advice for others hoping to build a log home?

The most important factor is to find an experienced expert in the actual construction process.  By luck and with some help from our dealer, we found the perfect contractor.


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