Haven on the Hill
Enjoy this interview with Alex and Connie Diamond, who along with their children Evie and Evin, are enjoying Christmas in their new Honest Abe Log home.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
Alex is from a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania, and Connie is from a small beach town in Florida. We met in the middle in 2007 in Nashville when we both moved here within a month of each other as we both started working at Vanderbilt university medical center. God had a plan for us. We have been happily married since 2011.
Alex is a pediatric sports medicine physician at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and a team physician for Vanderbilt University, the Nashville Predators and Nashville Sounds.
Connie has her masters in counseling from Lipscomb and is a stay at home mom for our two children, Evie, 8, and Evin, 5, and two rescue dogs (Nugget who is a Jack Russell and Nyssa who is a lab-hound mix). Connie did all of the interior designing of the house herself.
Why did you choose a log home over a conventional home?
We both love being in nature and felt a log home would capture our dream of a home that is rustic, warm, unique and would incorporate elements of the outdoors.
How did the plan develop?
It is a custom plan. We checked out a few standard plans (Honest Abe and magazines) and combined elements that we liked into our overall design. We were pregnant with our second child and decided to do one last getaway. We did a weekend in Sewanee, Tennessee. I (Alex) did the final sketching in the library of the B&B while Connie took a much needed nap. She gave the plans her final stamp of approval.
How did you settle upon log style and other technical specifics?
We met with Dan Smith at the Honest Abe model home in Murfreesboro and finalized our choices once we were able to see the options in person.
Is there anything special about the location of the home?
We really wanted our log home to be a retreat for our family. We are a close knit family and value doing things together and being together. We also place a lot of value on the simple things in life. We feel like God has blessed us with a special place to make lifelong memories and where we can relax, play, pray and grow together.
We spent several years searching for the right piece of land, and it was honestly a struggle finding something that spoke to us and was in our price range. We thought we found a place and put in an offer, but someone else claimed it first. We were pretty bummed.
Shortly after we went to see another property, and while there, a gentleman was bush hogging the property next door and told us his land was for sale as well. We had a really nice conversation. It was just a little bit above what we had set as our price point, so it didn’t show on our search list.
We fell in love with this land. It had gorgeous views, mixture of forest and pasture, a creek, secluded but close to town. The day we closed there were several bluebirds on the land, which has special significance to my wife so we took that as a powerful sign from God.
Were there any design choices you made to accommodate specific pieces of furniture, collectibles or personal hobbies, etc.?
Our very first home together was in Nashville, Tennessee, and in the front yard of that home was a big beautiful maple tree. Our kids when they were babies swung in this tree and played under its shade. A few years ago, a freak storm blew it over. We had a neighbor mill it for us and we kept the wood in our shed to be used at our dream home one day.
We attended the log home show and university in Nashville. That’s where we met Dan Smith. At that show, we also met an Amish craftsman from Kentucky. We took the wood up to him, and he hand hewed the wood into two beautiful live edge fireplace mantles. We have one in our great room and the other on our screened porch.
What is your favorite thing about your new home and why?
We feel so blessed and are so thankful to see our prayers answered in a BIG way. We so desired a place of peace for ourselves and our children. We prayed for a piece of land that connected us to nature. We desired a refuge for our family, our friends and anyone who came to visit.
That’s why we named our spot “Haven on the Hill.” We love the craftsmanship of the house. We love our sunrises, sunsets and 360 view of the surrounding hills during the day and the city lights off in the distance at night. Breathtaking views from our great room windows.
Our log home/farmhouse hybrid design elements. Multiple heavy-timber beams in the great room. Patio made from huge rocks from the land. Large breakfast nook. Wrap-around porch into screened in area. Real stone fireplaces. Custom bookshelves and trim work.
Why did you choose Honest Abe Log Homes?
We wanted a local company that we could deal with in person. We felt reassured about how long they have been in business and that they are a family run operation. We were really impressed when we met Dan Smith. He was not pushy or overbearing to make a sale but instead was just kind and available and that matched well with our personality. His helpfulness, knowledge and friendly nature won us over.
How did you like working with your Dealer or Sales Rep?
We absolutely love Dan Smith and consider him a friend now. There were some times financially when we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to make this work, but Dan stuck with us and worked with us through the whole process. He met with us as much as we wanted to help get our design finalized and our contract to a point where we could make our dream a reality. He even drove me to Kentucky and back in his pickup so we could get the custom mantles and furniture from our Amish craftsman.
Would you do this again?
We consider this our dream and final home so no plans to do this again. However, we are planning a garage and bonus room addition in the near future and will absolutely be using Honest Abe and Dan Smith to do it for us.
We have found our forever spot. It was an amazing adventure, and we enjoyed it every step of the way. We had a great team with Honest Abe and Wallace Construction, which Dan recommended to us. Every time we met another member of the Honest Abe team, we could sense the pride they had in the company, the work they did and wanting to give us their absolute best.
We cannot say enough about Dan Smith and the whole team at Honest Abe. We would recommend them without reservation to anyone looking to build a log home. You can tell they pride themselves on being a family business and we felt like we were cared for like family.
How was your construction experience?
It was really pretty smooth. Building a house isn’t always easy, but we felt like Honest Abe and Wallace Construction took great care of us and we absolutely love the finished product.
Tell me about your experience in deciding how to decorate the home for Christmas. What was different than other years? How did you choose a theme?
I (Connie) have always adored Christmas. My mom instilled that joy in my heart many years ago. She always made it special. She passed away four years ago so I feel like I am honoring her whenever I decorate this time of year.
Our kids are also at an age where they enjoy the magic of the holidays and we love seeing the joy that it brings out in them. We officially moved into our log home last November and we were still living out of boxes during the holidays so I decided it would be best to wait until Christmas 2020 to decorate. I have been counting down to this season!
mudroom, laundry, playroom, kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, guest room, bathroom, great room, master bedroom, master bathroom, kids room x 2, kids bathroom.
Main floor – 1,953 SF
Upstairs – 1,230 SF
Porches – 956 SF
Log style: “D-log”
Corner style: butt & pass
Roof Type: heavy timber
“Despite all the trials and difficulties of 2020, we know that God allowed us to move in this year giving us an opportunity to be in our special home as we spent extra time together as a family. In our foyer entrance we have a Mother Teresa quote hanging from the wall that says “ If you want to bring happiness to the world, go home and love your family.”
– Alex and Connie Diamond
Interview and photography by Claudia Johnson, Director of Marketing, Honest Abe Log Homes
Photos of Christmas trees at dusk courtesy of Connie Diamond.