Rise Like a Phoenix

In the af­ter­math of a dev­as­tat­ing fire, one cou­ple re­builds their log home and their life.

Log Home Living - - CONTENTS - pho­tog­ra­phy courtesy of Jim Barna Log & Tim­ber Homes story by Suzanna Lo­gan

In the af­ter­math of a dev­as­tat­ing fire, one cou­ple re­builds their log home and their life.

Ev­ery day, Jim Yates heads out his back door to a koi pond to feed his fish. As he nears the edge, a bright or­ange flash breaks the smooth, dark sur­face of the wa­ter. Rip­ples scat­ter across the pond as the koi sig­nal their ex­cite­ment. Jim care­fully sprin­kles in the food. Orbs of sil­ver break through to the sur­face. Sur­rounded by his color­ful friends, a water­fall and a lush gar­den, it’s a sooth­ing rit­ual for Jim to come here — an un­spo­ken re­minder to soak up the serenity of this place.

The set­ting hasn’t al­ways been so peace­ful. Just three years ago, a dif­fer­ent home cast a shadow across this pond. It was the first home the Jim and his wife, Mary Ellen, had built, and it was the em­bod­i­ment of their life-long dream. Con­structed on the prop­erty where Jim was raised, no de­tail had been over­looked,

down to the in­cor­po­ra­tion of stones from the fire­place of a nearby cen­tury-old house Jim’s great-great-grand­fa­ther had helped build. For nearly 25 years, that house was ev­ery­thing the cou­ple had ever hoped for. But one phone call changed ev­ery­thing.

The evening of De­cem­ber 23, 2015, started

out much like any other for the cou­ple. Af­ter spend­ing all day at work, Mary Ellen and Jim were ready to re­lax. They agreed to meet up with friends for din­ner. A lit­tle over an hour af­ter leav­ing home, they heard a cell phone ring. “Jim’s house is on fire!” the voice shouted. The cou­ple rushed home, but it was too late. “The house was in blazes,” re­calls Mary Ellen. Adds Jim: “It took 68 fire­fight­ers eight hours to put it out.”

Once the smoke had cleared, the cou­ple sifted through the charred de­bris. “A few plates, dishes, a bronze vase — that was all we were able to save,” says Jim. In the days fol­low­ing the fire, Jim and Mary Ellen strug­gled to come to terms with the tragedy. But as the shock sub­sided, the cou­ple agreed re­build­ing their log home would help them heal. “Jim was raised here,” says Mary Ellen. “We have a beau­ti­ful piece of prop­erty, and we needed to be here — be home — for our own well-be­ing.”

The cou­ple reached out to Zoltan Obru­san­szki, the lo­cal Jim Barna Log & Tim­ber Homes rep­re­sen­ta­tive. To­gether, they worked out a plan to tear the house down to the foun­da­tion to ver­ify that it could sup­port a new res­i­dence. While await­ing the re­port, the cou­ple be­gan look­ing into other pos­si­ble de­signs, but when the foun­da­tion cleared in­spec­tion, they knew re­build­ing the same plan was meant to be.

Sadly, tragedy struck again. The day af­ter the in­sur­ance com­pany fi­nal­ized the claim on the orig­i­nal house, Jim fell off of a lad­der, suf­fer­ing a frac­tured skull. “I was in the hos­pi­tal five times in 2016 and in surgery twice,” Jim says. Dur­ing his re­cov­ery, Mary Ellen took the re­build­ing reigns, work­ing closely with Zoltan and builder Don­nie Daugh­erty. “We fi­nally had a light at the end of the tun­nel,” she says. Nearly 18 months af­ter the fire, move-in day ar­rived. “There were a lot of emo­tions,” says Mary Ellen.

To­day, the two-story de­sign of­fers 4,000 square feet of easy-flow­ing liv­ing spa­ces and eye-catch­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing a glass prow front, vaulted ceil­ings and 9-inch, eastern white pine D-shaped logs with sad­dle-notched cor­ners. “The larger log sizes feel more im­pres­sive and fit the scale of the home,” ex­plains Zoltan. While Jim and Mary Ellen kept the orig­i­nal three-bed­room, 2.5-bath­room de­sign with an open loft up­stairs, they did make a few ad­just­ments, in­clud­ing switch­ing the for­mer L-shaped kitchen to a gal­ley “to cre­ate a bet­ter flow,” says Mary Ellen. In the process, they ex­panded the foyer and nixed the den in fa­vor of a home of­fice.

But the big­gest change (Mary Ellen calls the idea her “ah-ha” mo­ment) is the ad­di­tion of a large gabled porch on the back of the house, lo­cated just a few feet from Jim’s koi pond. “When we sit out on the cov­ered deck with the koi pond and the water­fall and the woods be­hind us, ev­ery­thing feels so peace­ful,” says Mary Ellen. And, if you ask any­one who knows the Yates, they’ll tell you the serene feel­ing set­tled on the home isn’t in spite of what the cou­ple has been through, but be­cause of how they have per­se­vered with grace. “We are so blessed to be where we are to­day,” says Jim. Mary Ellen adds: “No mat­ter what, this is home.”

A glass prow front, punc­tu­ated by a pair of gabled dormers, adds depth to the ex­te­rior and af­fords spec­tac­u­lar panoramic views.

ABOVE: Jim and Mary Ellen en­joy car­ing for the home’s 10 acres, in­clud­ing the back­yard koi pond.TOP: The cou­ple loves be­ing out­doors. Their ex­pan­sive, par­tially cov­ered deck gives them plenty of space to lounge.

ABOVE & RIGHT: For 25 years, Jim and Mary Ellen's home stood proud. Then a dev­as­tat­ing fire in De­cem­ber 2015 changed ev­ery­thing. It took 68 fire­fight­ers eight hours to con­tain the blaze. (Note how the roof and win­dows are de­stroyed, but the logs fared well by com­par­i­son.) Sad­dle-notched cor­ner de­tail adds ad­di­tional flair to the great room’s two-story stone fire­place.

In the restora­tion, Mary Ellen up­dated the kitchen’s de­sign to im­prove func­tion­al­ity, in­clud­ing adding a ter­raced is­land to cre­ate sep­a­rate prep and eat­ing ar­eas. Knotty hickory cab­i­nets, glass pen­dant lights and a cop­per vent hood add warmth and rich­ness to the space.LEFT: A loft above the kitchen cre­ates a cozy feel be­low, while the din­ing area re­mains vaulted to add a sense of el­e­gance. Ad­ja­cent French doors of­fer easy ac­cess for out­door din­ing.

Square Footage: 4,000 Bed­rooms: 3 Bath­rooms: 2 full , 1 halfLog Provider: Jim Barna Log & Tim­ber Homes

The gabled porch, a last-minute ad­di­tion to the re­stored home’s de­sign, is the cou­ple’s fa­vorite spot to re­lax. DECK GARAGE GABLED PORCH DECK SUN ROOM DIN­ING ROOM PAN. KITCHEN OF­FICE MAS­TER BED­ROOM GREAT ROOM MAIN LEVEL

OPEN TO BE­LOW GAME ROOM LOFT BED­ROOM BED­ROOM OPEN TO BE­LOW UP­PER LEVEL

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.