From Re­treat to For­ever

In this ex­cep­tional cabin, a child­hood dream is re­al­ized and a new chap­ter of life be­gins.

Timber Home Living - - The Welcome Home Series - Story by Clau­dia John­son, Hon­est Abe Log Homes Pho­tog­ra­phy by Roger Wade Stu­dios

As­mall log cabin built as an es­cape has been trans­formed into a Ten­nessee cou­ple’s for­ever home.

“One of the first places we re­mem­ber go­ing when we moved to Murfrees­boro in 1988 was the Hon­est Abe model,” Gary Slay­den re­called. “I guess we’ve al­ways had a de­sire and a dream to have a log home.”

In 2006, Gary and wife Suzan pur­chased 25 acres of oak-stud­ded land west of Murfrees­boro, Tenn. By 2009 they had cre­ated a pond and cleared some of the land in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the 1,000 square foot Hon­est Abe log cabin de­signed as a re­treat for hunt­ing and en­joy­ing time with fam­ily and friends.

The orig­i­nal square log, dove­tailed cabin fea­tured an open din­ing

room, kitchen and liv­ing room with an ad­ja­cent bed­room and bath on the first floor and a guest bed­room on a sec­ond floor land­ing.

“The one thing that was most im­por­tant was the place­ment of the cabin on the prop­erty,” Gary said, ex­plain­ing how he and Suzan took into con­sid­er­a­tion the po­si­tion­ing of a drive­way, which trees to keep and even where the sun would rise and set.

Suzan ad­mit­ted that no one would have be­lieved her to be a “coun­try girl,” but she grew up vis­it­ing grand­par­ents’ farms, where she had learned to ap­pre­ci­ate the out­doors. She and Gary fre­quently spent week­ends at the cabin, and she found she was com­fort­able there among the abun­dant deer and wild tur­keys, even grow­ing ac­cus­tomed to the un­set­tling howls of coy­otes.

“In 2014 we sold our home in town and were ac­tu­ally plan­ning to move to an­other neigh­bor­hood, but we loved stay­ing here so much in the small cabin, we chose to add on and move here,” Gary said, call­ing the 3,200 square foot ad­di­tion a “la­bor of love.”

Gary pointed out that be­cause the cabin was ex­tant, there was no “mas­ter plan” in de­ter­min­ing where the ad­di­tion would go but they were for­tu­nate to have the space to add on.

“There was re­ally only one place to add on,” Suzan said. “It looks like it was meant to be.”

The Slay­dens had worked with long­time Hon­est Abe Murfrees­boro Sales Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan Smith to cre­ate the orig­i­nal cabin, so they called on him again to or­ches­trate the mas­sive ad­di­tion that quadru­pled the home’s size.

“It is very dif­fi­cult to tell where the orig­i­nal cabin and the new house are con­nected, “Dan ob­served. “It’s prob­a­bly the best ex­pan­sion I’ve ever seen in terms of match­ing wood, color and style.”

A down­stairs mas­ter bed­room suite opens onto a sun­set-fac­ing cov­ered porch. The great room’s vaulted ceil­ing fea­tures a hand-wrought iron chan­de­lier crafted by a Nashville ar­ti­san who cre­ated the del­i­cate iron leaves and vines en­tan­gling the stair­case and bal­cony balustrade.

Tall win­dows bathe the room in sun­shine. The ad­ja­cent kitchen/din­ing area is bar­rier-free, per­fect for a cou­ple as likely to host gath­er­ings for 60 peo­ple as they are in­ti­mate fam­ily din­ners.

“We wanted a lot of nat­u­ral light,”

Gary said. “We wanted to be able to see the out­doors from the in­side.”

Up­stairs there’s an­other full bath and bed­room. A com­bi­na­tion of­fice and den oc­cu­pies the wide loft, where an east-fac­ing win­dow frames a pond and for­est.

Cre­at­ing an out­door liv­ing space was as im­por­tant to the Slay­dens as de­sign­ing the per­fect in­te­rior. Woven into the land­scape are struc­tures and fea­tures that ac­com­mo­date their lives. There’s a de­tached two-car garage with an open cov­ered bay and an en­closed util­ity area and pot­ting shed.

A pavil­ion with light­ing and three large fans com­fort­ably seats sev­eral dozen. A ham­mock swings be­tween two an­cient oaks on the front lawn. Stones from the prop­erty were re­pur­posed into a cir­cu­lar fire pit. A dou­ble-seated swing is solidly placed on a small penin­sula in the pond with fish­ing rods hol­stered an arm’s length away.

“We don’t have a wrap-around porch, but we do have four porches,” Gary said.

The out­door grilling sta­tion with easy ac­cess to the kitchen is safely sit­u­ated on the open end of a spa­cious out­door room just off the din­ing room. Ap­pointed with com­fort­able fur­ni­ture and a large-screen TV, the Slay­dens are cooled by a 72" fan or warmed by a wood-burn­ing fire­place, de­pend­ing on the sea­son.

“It’s gor­geous out there – the trees, the sounds of the wildlife – gor­geous and peace­ful,” Suzan ob­served.

The Slay­dens said the lessons they learned from hav­ing built four cus­tom homes helped them cre­ate the home they ex­pect to live in for­ever.

“We fi­nally learned to pay at­ten­tion to what’s im­por­tant,” Gary said. “In the past we didn’t pay enough at­ten­tion to sun­sets.”

TOP: The orig­i­nal Hon­est Abe Cabin the Slay­dens built in 2009 in­te­grated seam­lessly into the 2014 home ex­pan­sion that more than quadru­pled the home. ABOVE: The rear of the home over­looks a man-made lake that can be viewed from a cov­ered porch, an...

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