Western living is a state of mind. You can achieve it anywhere, if you have the right approach. Bill and Kay Barkley’s log home in Southern Alabama sits on a former plantation in a region more identified with Gone with the Wind than True Grit.
But on a wide-open knoll, in a stretch of grassland that wouldn’t be out of place in Wyoming, they’ve built a house and a lifestyle that captures their love of the West. “We like horses, nature, cowboys and John Wayne movies. That’s who we are,” says Kay with a laugh. “I think Bill was born at the wrong time, actually.”
Their home on Prairie Oaks Ranch, the 4,800-acre spread they own and operate near the town of Gallion, also gives a nod to Eastern log-building traditions. The long, low house and the way it commands the landscape largely unsheltered by trees echoes homes in Western cattle country. But the square logs with dovetail corners and prominent chinking mimic the look and feel of 200-year-old Appalachian homes, the specialty of their log provider, Hearthstone Inc., headquartered in Dandridge, Tennessee.
“This is the third house Bill and I have built,” Kay says. “Every time you build one you learn a little more. I knew exactly what I wanted the layout to look like.” That vision included a long, low homestead with large, open rooms and nooks and crannies all around. Also, Bill and Kay wanted a plethora of materials, including several wood species, ironwork, stone and textural wall treatments.
Here are some of the other features that distinguish their unique home:
• A timber frame structure surrounded by walls made from 14-to-24-inch-diameter logs.
• White pine handhewn logs that are flat on the sides and naturally contoured on the top and bottom at the chink joint.
• Reclaimed pine flooring and “pecky” cypress trim.
• Two fireplaces made of river rock and limestone with an arch above the mantel reminiscent of Southwestern haciendas.
• A salvaged door from an Irish castle.
• A floorplan design that features a kitchen that flows into the gathering room.
• A large screened-in porch with a built-in barbecue made of stone.