A Stroke of Luck

A Geor­gia cou­ple builds their dream home a few years ear­lier than ex­pected.


A Geor­gia cou­ple builds their dream home a few years ear­lier than ex­pected.

Some­times the best things in life hap­pen when you least ex­pect them — just ask Chris and Scott Smith of Ma­ri­etta, Geor­gia, who never imag­ined that a big life change would ar­rive in the form of a sim­ple ad­ver­tis­ing post­card.

“We were think­ing about even­tu­ally plan­ning a re­tire­ment home, but we hadn’t even start­ing look­ing at land yet when we got a post­card an­nounc­ing a fore­clo­sure sale,” shares Chris. “We in­stantly fell for our val­ley lot with a stream in the back­yard and a 360-de­gree view of the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ing moun­tains.”

Nes­tled in the foothills of the North Geor­gia Moun­tains, the two-acre lot of­fers un­par­al­leled views of na­ture and a sense of ab­so­lute tran­quil­ity. The cou­ple de­cided to pur­chase the site right away, plus two more acres across the street so they could en­joy an open view of the moun­tains, which are part of the fa­mous Blue Ridge.

Af­ter buy­ing the prop­erty, the Smiths de­cided to forge ahead early with plans for a dream home. “I pored over mag­a­zines and web­sites to re­fine the look I wanted, and found that I was drawn to the Bel­gian Farm­house style,” shares Chris. “A tim­ber-frame struc­ture would be the per­fect back­drop for com­bin­ing the rus­tic, tra­di­tional and some­times mod­ern el­e­ments that I loved. “

A few months later, the cou­ple at­tended a log home show and found their ar­chi­tect: Michael Grant, from

OP­PO­SITE & ABOVE: The arched col­lar ties in the liv­ing room mimic the ra­dius in the win­dows. “The soar­ing ceil­ing, as well as the dry-stacked stone fire­place give the room an ex­pan­sive pres­ence, but it is so well-pro­por­tioned that it feels ‘right’ whether there are 30 peo­ple over for a party, or just the two of us,” says Chris. Mod­ern Rus­tic Homes, a de­sign/build firm in nearby El­li­jay. “Re­mark­ably, Michael trans­lated our first con­ver­sa­tion into a draw­ing we worked with for the rest of the de­sign process,” says Chris.

Though the Smiths orig­i­nally set out to build a week­end re­treat since they still had ties to At­lanta, the cri­te­ria soon shifted. “As ideas grew and in­spi­ra­tion kicked in, they wanted a re­treat

that would also be suit­able as a re­tire­ment home when the tim­ing was right,” ex­plains Grant. “I de­vel­oped a floor plan to pro­vide for one-level liv­ing with a guest suite up­stairs, and planned the de­sign around their re­quests for an open plan that would al­low for en­ter­tain­ing and ca­sual liv­ing.”

The re­sult­ing 3,000-square-foot de­sign in­cor­po­rates vary­ing ceil­ing heights and beam con­fig­u­ra­tions to help de­fine rooms (in lieu of walls), as well as sight lines that pull your eye to­ward dif­fer­ent fo­cal points all around the prop­erty. “Vis­ual ac­cess from in­side to out­side was care­fully planned by hav­ing win­dows and doors aligned with in­te­rior door open­ings and hall­ways,” says Grant. “This ar­range­ment cap­tures the view of the trout stream, moun­tains and mead­ows sur­round­ing the house.”

The stun­ning white pine tim­ber frame was also planned care­fully. “The client wanted ‘Tim­ber-Frame Lite,’ the look and feel of a tim­ber-frame home, but not a true tim­ber-frame struc­ture,” ex­plains Grant. “Our so­lu­tion was a hy­brid of con­ven­tional con­struc­tion meth­ods com­bined with tim­ber-frame el­e­ments to cre­ate the look.”

The con­struc­tion process, led by gen­eral con­trac­tor Joe Dixon, was in­cred­i­bly smooth, thanks in part to the site it­self. “As build sites go, this was a dream lot, with no steep grades, over­sized trees or dif­fi­culty get­ting to the prop­erty,” shares Grant. “The prop­erty is nes­tled in a val­ley — I jok­ingly told the own­ers they had the only flat lot in North Geor­gia. We didn’t have the chal­lenges of build­ing on the side of a moun­tain.”

Once guests walk through the front door, they are in­stantly wowed. “Hav­ing lived with a small dark en­trance foyer in our Cape Cod-style home, I wanted to let light flood in this home and re­ally set the stage for a ‘you’ve ar­rived’ ex­pe­ri­ence,” ex­plains Chris. “When you step in, the foyer area soars two sto­ries, and you see straight through to the fire­place porch and be­yond.”

The lines be­tween in­doors and out are eas­ily blurred, es­pe­cially in one of the own­ers’ fa­vorite ar­eas, the liv­ing porch. “It’s one room I can’t imag­ine liv­ing with­out,” re­veals Chris. “We open the slid­ers for large par­ties, and with a roar­ing fire in the fire­place, it’s com­fort­able all year long.”

In fact, the porch — and the rest of the home — is so com­fort­able, that it seems to at­tract more than just hu­man vis­i­tors; drag­on­flies showed up reg­u­larly dur­ing con­struc­tion, lead­ing the home­own­ers to dub their home “Dragon­fly Lodge.” Michael saved one of the drag­on­flies he found, framed it, and pre­sented it to the Smiths when their house was com­plete.

“Drag­on­flies sym­bol­ize good luck, hap­pi­ness and also change that leads to a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the mean­ing of life,” shares Chris. “It turned out to be the per­fect name for our home.”

Just like that un­ex­pected post­card, the drag­on­flies seem to be a sure sign of good for­tune and bless­ings to come.

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