Silver Point Timber Frame – Cozy, Not Conventional
Distinctive design and bold finishes make this custom timber frame the combination of modern and rustic a young Tennessee couple envisioned. It was featured in Log and Timber Living in 2020.
Story by Claudia Johnson
Photography by Brandon Malone
Plan design: Original draft by Priscilla Epps Head; Final plans by Melissa Copas, Honest Abe Log Homes
Something different. That’s what homeowners Priscilla and James Head wanted when they conceived of a custom wood home near Tennessee’s Center Hill Lake.
“I wanted a home style that would match the Middle Tennessee scenery,” said Priscilla. “Cabin style is not my typical style, as I grew up in Golden, Mississippi, with more traditional homes. James and I had lived in downtown Nashville for several years, and we were ready to have a home that felt a bit cozier than our modern condominium.”
Over the years Priscilla, 35, and James, 40, had fallen in love with Center Hill Lake, about an hour east of Nashville, and the marina near the small community of Silver Point in particular.
“Prior to the cabin, we found ourselves spending more and more time on the lake and at our houseboat,” Priscilla recalled. “We decided that we wanted a more permanent residence in Silver Point – a much slower pace than our typical lifestyle in the city.”
James, a native of Celina, Tennessee, near Honest Abe Log Home’s National Headquarters, had previously built an Honest Abe structure to accommodate his business office, and the couple had visited several houses created by the 40-year-old company. After touring the Cambridge model home at Crossville, Tennessee, and meeting Honest Abe Independent Dealer Dallas Powers, they were certain Honest Abe was the right choice.
“We loved using a company nearby,” Priscilla said, adding, “and I loved how unique we could make our home with Honest Abe!”
Priscilla and her mother, Linda Epps, worked together on developing a floor plan that encompassed must-haves like a dog bath in the garage, a porch with outdoor living space, a man-cave for James and a 1,530-square-foot walkout basement with a wet bar, lounge and exercise room.
“We wanted a modern flare with simple, clean lines and something different than the plain, typical cabin,” Priscilla said. “We chose the log siding since we did not want to have too much wood visible from the inside. We love the timber frame interior as it is rustic and cozy but not over-the-top.”
Melissa Copas, an Honest Abe designer for more than 20 years, drafted the final plan for the two-story house.
The 1,530-square-foot main floor has an open great room, kitchen and dining room. A breezeway connects the three-car garage to the main home through the laundry room, which has a half bath. The master bedroom suite has double walk-in closets and a full bath with a shower and separate tub, a private toilet closet and dual sinks. Two private bedrooms with a shared bath and an open loft comprise the 900-square-foot second story.
Priscilla and James used Honest Abe’s dry-in service to construct the home.
“Honest Abe was very quick,” Priscilla said. “It was great to come by every afternoon and see the progress. They were helpful in answering all questions and accommodating all our needs. They really seemed to take pride in the build and treated it like their own.”
Once the home was erected, Priscilla hired contractor Richard Norton to oversee finalization of the cabin, which included plumbing and electric, lighting, bath and kitchen fixtures, cabinetry, interior and exterior painting and stain, fireplaces and roof covering.
“Richard did an excellent job blending the dried-in home with my chosen finishes,” Priscilla said. “I was involved in this build every day from design of the plans to fixtures to plumbing to small woodwork decisions and last minute adjustments.”
To create the modern visual impact the couple desired, they made some bold choices, both inside and out.
“Staining the cabin white was my idea, and James loved it too,” Priscilla said. “Along with the white exterior stain, we decided to paint the interior tongue and groove ceiling white. My contractor and painter cringed at the idea, but we were adamant, and others love it! It covers the wood grain, which most builders hate, but it offers great contrast between the stark white cathedral ceiling and the deep brownish-gray stained wood beams in the living room.”
Both Priscilla and James said that despite the challenges inherent in building any type of custom home, it was well worth the effort.
“Now we have a home that is just what we envisioned – a perfect blend of our styles,” Priscilla said. “I just don’t feel that we could have a more unique house by building it any other way. The blend of cozy, rustic and modern makes our home a joy to come home to every day. Also, the fact that there is no other one in the world like it makes it all the better.”
While reviewing the photo gallery, take note of these special design touches by homeowner Priscilla Epps Head.
The Silver Point Timber frame is a former recipient of the First Place Award for home design in its size category in the Jerry Rouleau Awards for Excellence in Home Design presented by the National Association of Home Builders Building Systems Councils.
The exterior, covered with round log siding, blends well with the surroundings while offering a pop of color with the whitewashed exterior stain. The hybrid home’s heavy timber roof system and interior and exterior wood components and architectural details were manufactured by Honest Abe Log Homes, which also drafted final plans from an original concept submitted by the homeowners. A pleasing asymmetry is created with by a three-car garage on one end and an outdoor living room on the other. A covered porch, which wraps from a gabled front entrance to the back, swells at one end with an outdoor entertaining area complete with a metal propane fire pit, heavy timber gable roof and ceiling fan. Instead of wood spindles, stainless steel cables were used to complete the balustrade. The Heads store split firewood for the interior wood-burning fireplace on the wide porch.
The Heads wanted simple, clean lines so that nothing detracted from the wood ceiling and architectural details. Painting the tongue-and-groove ceiling white added a startling, modern contrast to the rustic gray/brown Perma-Chink Systems stain on the beams and trim and the dark stain of the engineered hardwood floors. The wood-burning fireplace on the 1,530-square-foot first floor, surrounded by a mix of gray, brown and white manufactured stone that matches the kitchen island, easily heats the first and second floors. The Heads chose the boat painting as a nod to the nearby lake. Actual windmill blades were hung among the timber frame components as unexpected art. The Heads say the eight-blade great room ceiling fan never fails to attract the attention of guests. Patio doors open onto the covered porch’s outdoor living room from one side of the great room with another set accessing sitting and dining spots along the cabin’s rear.
Priscilla designed the laundry room to utilize every inch of space. She drew plans for cabinetry, custom crafted by a local supplier, to conceal coats, shoes and supplies. There’s even a comfortable built-in bed for Blue, the four-year-old, 100-pound Weimaraner who shares the home.
The Heads’ carpenter built the powder room vanity, topped by a stone sink, in place, in the only room in the 13-room home were bronze fixtures were used instead of brushed nickel.
Kitchen and Dining
The timber frame’s kitchen is influenced by the simple Shaker style. Although this house is more than 3,000 square feet, the Heads created a cozy cabin feel in the kitchen with lower ceilings. To reflect the cabin style they incorporated rustic features like the stone island with a wood top, a stone backsplash and a copper sink. Priscilla designed the custom cabinets, choosing a granite countertop with brown flecks to coordinate with the color of the wood components. Character is added with an exposed metal ventilation duct for the 48-inch, six-burner griddle stove, while stainless steel finishes create a modern sleekness. Seating for eight at a tall, rustic dining table is flooded with daylight from single-pane patio doors in one corner of the great room. Modern brushed nickel and glass lanterns and up-lights above the horizontal run of Douglas fir wall beams provide soft but ample lighting for nights at the lake. Priscilla is an organizer as witnessed by her pantry shelves. She found the clamp lid jars at a local big box store that serve a dual purpose of keeping the pantry neat and keeping moisture and pests from contents.
Master Bedroom & Bath
A metal canopy bed in the first floor master bedroom is centered beneath a white painted tongue-and-groove ceiling and a large dark-stained fir beam. Wall-mounted sleep fans keep air gently circulating while creating white noise. A large, space-saving sliding wooden door hides a walk-in closet.
Priscilla designed dark gray bathroom cabinets to accommodate dual square white porcelain sinks on a white, gray and brown granite countertop. Framed by brown-stained heavy wooden timbers, the white, square jacuzzi tub is surrounded by wood-grain, gray rectangular ceramic tiles that match the under-window backsplash. The floor is covered in large white tiles, while the walk-in shower has small rectangular tiles on the floor and running vertically between large dark gray shower wall tiles.
The full walkout basement 1,530-square-foot boasts a recreation area, a wet bar with an icemaker and refrigerator and two television screens; a full bath; an exercise gym; and a storage area. The Heads created the feel of an upscale roadside lounge by using a combination of recessed lighting in black ceiling tiles; vinyl floors, doors and woodwork are a matching weathered gray; and corrugated tin for covering the base of the cabinets and black granite-topped bar. Bar stools are a retro design of shaped wood, black leather and chrome, while the pool table is decked in barn wood.
A view from the second-floor loft office shows the magnificent intricacy of the dark stained Douglas fir timbers that support the heavy timber roof system. Nine strands of tightly stretched stainless steel cable keep the balustrade safe. One of two guest bedrooms on the 900-square-foot second floor has dark stained trim and hardwood flooring to contrast the white drywall ceiling and walls. The Heads kept bedrooms relatively small to increase space for entertaining and relaxing with friends and family. In keeping with a desire for a light interior, for the staircase and loft railing the Heads chose to use strands of barely visible stainless steel instead of traditional wood. The antique cabinet, with its original metal doors and top, found at a local flea market was repurposed for an entrance hall piece. The silver-framed world map lets the couple, who married in November 2018, pinpoint their travels together.