Christmas at the Cambridge

Story by Claudia Johnson • Photography by Brandon Malone Photography • Styling by At My Front Door

Christmas is the time for traditions – for honoring old ones and creating new. It’s a time for decking the halls, welcoming friends and creating memories. And that’s just what Honest Abe Log Homes does during the holidays at its award-winning model home, the Cambridge, in Crossville, Tennessee.

The Christmas at the Cambridge celebration kicks off this year on Dec. 8 at 10 a.m., when guests enjoy a cup of hot cider before beginning a day of touring log homes decorated for Christmas.

“The model is open year round, but each Christmas season it is transformed into a holiday showcase,” said Honest Abe president Josh Beasley. “Christmas at the Cambridge is becoming a tradition of its own.”

Just as Christmas exhilarates the senses, providing a visual and tactile experience for a new generation of wood home enthusiasts was the goal when Honest Abe, a 40-year-old family-owned, Tennessee-based company created the Cambridge in 2014.

Award-winning design

“Michael Hix, one of our in-house designers, was given the next-to-impossible task of taking all the features our sales team thought visitors should see and designing a model that feels like a home,” Beasley explained. “He did such a fine job that we’ve added the Cambridge floor plan to our regular portfolio, and already we’ve had customers build their own versions of it.”

The effort was recognized nationally when in 2016 the Cambridge received the prestigious Jerry Rouleau Award for Excellence in Home Design presented by The Building Systems Councils of the National Association of Home Builders.

Beasley pointed out that the Cambridge plan is especially appealing to those who love log homes but want to incorporate timber frame components or secondary materials like stone and wrought iron into their design.

“For instance, the 1,700 square feet of porches encircling the house invoke the Craftsman style with rock pylons, double porch posts and stamped concrete,” Beasley said. “The front entrance features exposed trusses beneath a wide front gable, and in back, the wide porches open into a large outdoor room with a heavy timber roof and a wood-burning fireplace.”

Constructed of Eastern white pine dovetailed 8″ x 12″ D-Logs, the house is designed to present two very different facades. Passersby along busy Interstate 40 from which the model is visible see a traditional log home if approaching from the east, while travelers from the west notice Arts-and-Crafts design elements like a hexagonal turret and offset dual pediments.

Holiday headquarters

“The Cambridge is the touchstone of our annual Christmas tour of log homes held the second Saturday each December,” Beasley said. “It also attracts local visitors and tourists who just want to tour a log home decorated for the holidays, and we are happy to share the season with them.”

Decorating the 2,820-square-foot house is the responsibility of Honest Abe Sales Consultant Sharron Bilbrey, but she’s not complaining.

“I love to decorate for Christmas as evidenced by the fact that I decorate at least seven trees in my own Honest Abe log home,” she said.

“Every year I try to choose decorations with an elegant simplicity that – like the Cambridge itself – would speak to everyone.”

Last year Honest Abe engaged decorator Lexie Nale, owner of At My Front Door in Charleston, S.C., to add holiday touches.

“I used every design trick I could think of to create a warm, traditional atmosphere fitting for a model home,” Nale said, explaining that both Bilbrey and fellow Sales Representative Wayne Brady did not want the decorations to appear “overdone.”

A special place

The Cambridge’s ground floor is 1,864 square feet of open space except for a private master bedroom suite and a utility room/powder room. A see-through gas fireplace in a two-story chimney provides a centerpiece for the dining, living and kitchen areas and afforded the prime spot for a towering pine Christmas tree festooned with a flowing red bow and gold and red ornaments.

Three bedrooms, one downstairs and two on the 956-square-foot second floor, are each distinctively different and offer a variety of features such as capacious walk-in closets, handy knee-wall storage, efficient office space or cozy reading nooks. Each has complimentary interior painted walls and clear finished, flat v-groove log outside walls. For these, Bilbrey and Nale chose small trees with delicate ornaments and tiny white lights.

Nale hung several of her company’s custom designed wreaths, adding hints of evergreen, holly, magnolia, pinecones and berries inside and out.

“When the job was completed, it was beautiful!” Nale said, adding, “And as I stepped back and looked, I really could appreciate the craftsmanship and quality that went into the construction of this breathtaking log home.”

See all the Christmas photos by scrolling through the Christmas gallery by watching the slideshow below or clicking here.