An Indiana couple builds a second, grander version of their Tennessee vacation home
by Karen Doss Bowman, Log Cabin Homes, July 2011
For Peter and Trish Desocio, the second time’s a charm. Within two years of building their dream vacation log home in Henry, Tenn., the DeSocios had sold it and moved into an expanded version of the same house in nearby Paris.
The DeSocios, whose primary home is in Newburgh, Ind., weren’t looking to relocate their vacation spot. But when a realtor contacted the couple to see if they’d be interested in looking at the substantially larger Paris property, they decided to check it out. Drawn to the stunning beauty of the sprawling 350-acre property, which features a 155-acre lake, the couple considered this an opportunity to improve on a home they already considered flawless.
“Basically, the first house was so perfect, we thought, that when we built this second house, we just made it larger and on a grander scale,” Pete said. “But we didn’t buy the property until we knew we could build next to the lake.”
“We had a chance to work on things we thought we’d missed on our first house, and do it exactly the way we wanted on the second one,” added Trish. “Most people don’t have that opportunity, so it worked to our advantage.”
Produced by Honest Abe Log Homes and built by Larry Bell of Volunteer Log Homes in Henry, Tenn., the DeSocio home is constructed of 6×10-inch, square-profile Eastern white pine logs known as Honest Abe’s Original Chinked log. The building system includes chinking between the courses and dovetail corners. Additionally, the logs are hand hewn on the outside as well as on the interior to add to the home’s authentic, historic look.
See the floor plan here.
“We’ve seen a resurgence in the past few years of people wanting this more traditional look with the chinking and the dovetail corners,” says Josh Beasley, director of advertising at Honest Abe. “It’s an Appalachian style. If you go into the woods here in Tennessee, the 150-year-old cabins you’ll see will look similar.”
The Eastern white pine, a fast growing and sustainable species, is durable and an environmentally sound choice. The Honest Abe practice of air- and kiln-drying the wood results in tighter joints and stable logs that minimize future movement, shrinking, and settling.
The heavy timber roof system is constructed of 4×8-inch Douglas fir beams and 2×6-inch tongue-and-groove wood. Vaulted ceilings throughout the home showcase the exposed timbers. Adding to the home’s thermal mass, explained Bell, are five inches of rigid foam insulation at the top of the roof, an air space for venting, decking and a metal roof.
“The house is super sealed up, so there’s no air leakage and no water leakage,” said Bell, an Honest Abe dealer. “The energy efficiency is out of this world.”
Even though the DeSocios were using the same basic floor plan from their first log home, expanding the new house did present some design challenges. For example, the couple decided they wanted a garage on the new house. Not wanting to sacrifice a wall or the porch that completely wraps around the home, they worked with Bell to come up with an elaborate staircase that connects the detached garage to the house.
The bonus room above the garage serves as either the ultimate man cave or a secluded place for guests—particularly those visiting with families. In addition to a small kitchenette equipped with a small refrigerator, ice maker, sink, and bar, the space includes a full bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, a television, a gas log fireplace and a pool table.
The new property’s lake also added a design problem. The house essentially needed “two fronts,” Peter said, one that would look fabulous from the lakeside and another that would create a grand entrance. Their solution was to design the lake side with an expansive wall of windows on each side of a massive fireplace running all the way up through the roof. The main entryway, located on the back side of the house, is inviting with a gable that features exposed timbers over a three-level porch accented by lampposts.
“We wanted the house to be elegant and rustic at the same time,” Trish said.
The DeSocios’ one-and-a-half story home makes efficient use of space through seemingly simple solutions. A spiral staircase, for example, is situated to one side of the great room, offering easy access to the loft without taking up the space that a traditional staircase would occupy. It’s also a beautiful conversation piece, made out of solid oak and without a center post. Another space-saving feature, said Trish, is that “there are no long, wasted hallways.” The bedrooms are connected to the great room and dining room areas, with separate doors that can be closed off for privacy. Additionally, the couple asked Bell to build queen-sized beds into the slope of the roof in the loft.
Because the house was designed as a vacation home, outdoor spaces were an important consideration. The entire house is surrounded by a 10- foot-wide wraparound porch—an enlargement over the previous home’s eight-foot-wide porch. One section of the porch contains a sitting area overlooking the lake and features a wood-burning fireplace. It’s a great spot for relaxing and watching the many wild animals on the property, including wild turkey, deer, and a pair of eagles who nest nearby.
“What makes the wraparound porch so wonderful is that any time of the day you’ve got a place to sit where the temperature is ideal,” Trish said. “There may be a welcome breeze on one side or sunshine on another side. So the wraparound was ideal for spending time outdoors.”
The home also includes outdoor spaces for the couple’s two dogs, one of whom weighs just over three pounds and needs special protection from predators like hawks, that also occupy the property. The couple worked with Bell to come up with a design to make the gable end of the porch a three-level spot that’s closed off with gates. This allows the dogs to roam around the spacious porches while keeping them at a safe distance from wild animals. Additionally, the couple built a dog run next to the garage to give the dogs a private space to roam freely.
The couple has no plans for a third log home, feeling content that they’ve got the best location and design they could have imagined. For prospective log home owners, Pete suggested, “Build a log home if you want one – you’ll wish you’d done it a long time ago. There’s nothing like the magic of a log home.”
Photography by Roger Wade Studio