A Patient PursuitAn Arkansas couple waits a lifetime to build their dream log cabin.
by Krista Peters
A twilight falls over the Ozark Mountains, warm breezes flow over Greers Ferry Lake, Ark., and twist through the trees and over the coveted sweeping back porch of a charming lakefront log cabin. The chances are very good that you’ll find the owners, Maria and Mike Alderson, sitting under a fans drinking a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and soaking in the scenery. The ultimate likelihood is they have moved to their front porch rocking chairs to watch the deer.
All in the Family Deciding on the right builder can be a trying experience for log home owners. During their research phase, the Aldersons came across a cedar home in the area and inquired about the builder, Jeff Ragland. Though Jeff had never actually built a log home before, he took on the Alderson project and was joined by Mike Alderson and his son Zach in attending the Honest Abe construction school in Moss, Tenn. In the end, the entire Alderson family was immersed in the building of their home.
“Mike and I have always loved the outdoors and everything rustic,” says Maria.
Their affection for nature may explain the couple’s unfaltering determination to realize a vision of their own log vacation home that was 18 years in the making.
“‘We were married on Valentine’s Day in 1987, and only had a weekend for our honeymoon,” Maria says. “We stayed at a place called Tanyard Springs, a log cabin resort where all the cabins had a different theme. We fell in love with the atmosphere of the log home and were hooked from that day forward. That weekend we decided that we would have a log home of our own.”
The Aldersons kept that dream alive over several years and through several trials. In May 1990, the couple was blessed with their first child Zach. Six years later, their daughter Mikayla was born, and their desire for a log home grew stronger with the growth of their family.
“At one point we found some property in Van Buren, Ark., and had every intention of trying to build a log cabin there, but the builder approached us with a conventional plan and a deal we could not turn down,” Maria says.
Still the couple continued to kindle their longing for a log home.
“I was always searching for rustic, antique and wildlife decor and items through the years. Everyone asked what I was going to do with them and I would tell them they were going in the attic for the log home I would have some day,” Maria says. With Mike’s job change in 1996 and a move to central Arkansas, the dream took a step closer to reality.
As it turned out, Maria and Mike were quite familiar ‘With the region around Conway, Ark., the location of their new home. Only an hour away, Maria had spent high school summers with family friends on Greers Ferry Lake. The fond memories they associated with the area made it the perfect location to consider for their future vacation home.
For most of 2002, the couple searched for lakefront property but found the process much more difficult than they had anticipated. “Just because property is lakefront does not mean you can always see the lake. The [Army] Corps of Engineers usually owns the shoreline and normally it only allows for a meandering path to give the property owners access to the lake,” note the Aldersons.
After a long period of searching for property and one failed attempt at acquiring land, Mike and Maria were somewhat disheartened, but at trip back to the area one last time met with success when the pair came across a lot for sale by owner complete with split-rail fence, full lake access and views of the Little Red River and the Ozark Mountains to the West.
“It was an extremely rare find for the area,” Maria explains.
Once the property was secured, the search for a log home plan began, and with it came more unexpected surprises.
“Mike and I spent many nights, weeks, and months on the internet searching for log home companies. In fact, we spent about a year looking and comparing packages,” remembers Maria. “At one point, we thought we were not going to be able to afford building a log home. But after looking into and pricing a conventional home plan with a log look we realized that the cost of building any home had increased since we had built our last home and we were not willing to give up on our dream.”
That was when Maria and Mike came across some information from Honest Abe Log Homes based in Moss, Tenn. After visiting their home office and touring the plant to see what they had to offer, the Aldersons looked no further.
Mike and Maria worked with Honest Abe representative Josh Beasley to design the perfect floor plan.Alderson Plan
They combined the more traditional “Darlington” plan with aspects of the company’s “Dakota” plan to come up with the final blueprint. Considering the size and slope of their lot, as well as the opportunity to maximize lake views, the couple worked with Honest Abe to come up with a three-story, 2,800-square-foot haven made of eastern white pine topped with cathedral ceilings, and incomparable charm. The spacious living, kitchen, and dining areas of the main floor share a back wall of large triple windows and a full glass door to soak in the lake views while two large glass windows in the gabled loft counter with views of the Ozarks to the west.
While the master bedroom resides on the main floor, the two Alderson children have adopted the basement and loft.
“The basement has become the kids domain, especially for 16 year-old Zach and his teenage friends. Not including the sofas, there are enough beds for six in the basement. One bedroom has two sets of custom log bunk-beds while the other room has a full size custom log bed,” says Maria.
The loft area is a cherished spot for Mikayla, who enjoys using views of the mountains from the gabled loft windows and of the wildlife from her dormer as models for the scenery in her paintings.
While the structure and design of the home itself is impressive enough to warrant compliments, the furnishings and comfortable details give the home its aesthetic resilience. Using the memory of their honeymoon for inspiration, Maria Alderson was finally able to put her collection of rustic and vintage items which she had been storing in the attic to good use.
The major themes used throughout the home are reminiscent of wildlife. The master bed- room specifically highlights a fishing motif with fish net and fishing decor used as window valances and four vintage fishing prints in place over the bed. The bedding was purchased from Cabela’s and has a fish motif as well. The kitchen and dining areas feature more of the vintage items in the Alderson collection, including many inherited family heirlooms.
Though it took two decades and a significant share of research, the final outcome as well as the relationships the couple built with Honest Abe will be everlasting. In fact, Mike and Maria’s strong connection with Honest Abe led them to the unexpected decision to become dealers of log homes themselves. They now run their own company, Arkansas Log Home Connection, and are independent distributors for Honest Abe.
Josh Beasley of Honest Abe says, “Mike and Maria have become one of the top 10 dealers for Honest Abe.”
The feeling is mutual for the Aldersons, who feel more than fortunate for the path they have taken as a result of their decision to build a log home.
“Being a log home dealer for Honest Abe Log Homes is the best. The company is a pleasure to work with and, of course, all the people you meet who are interested in log homes are great folks!”
The patient pursuit of their dream in starting out has led Mike and Maria Alderson to truly appreciate the lifestyle they have built, and to extend their efforts to helping others realize their log home dreams as well.
Photos by Roger Wade
Styling by Debra Grahl