For 15 years, the Hughes family spent two carefree weeks each summer in the Poconos Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania.
But with their kids grown and retirement around the corner, Art and Debbie Hughes were ready for a more permanent place to spend summer vacations and long weekends. They purchased the first piece of land they found and began the long process of turning an empty lot into their ideal getaway.
Now, 13 years after purchasing the property and four years after finishing the cabin, the couple packs their bags each weekend and heads north, along with their yellow Lab, Harry, to their very own log cabin.
“When I pull in the driveway, my blood pressure drops right away,” says Art.
“That’s why we don’t mind making the drive every Friday night.”
As often as not, friends and family join the pair in their jaunt up to the cabin. After a good night’s rest, the couple and their guests usually begin with breakfast on the back porch. “The porch is the most active place around,” Debbie states.
It’s no wonder. The scene from the 45-foot long deck is worth setting the alarm. “You literally feel like you’re up in a tree house, surrounded by the woods,” Art observes. It’s this close connection to the outdoors that sets the Hughes’ cabin apart from the rest.
Inside, the home is awash in natural light. The open layout in the main living area features double French doors, skylights in the 18-foot ceilings and a large atrium window. “We wanted to bring the outside in as much as we could,” says Art.
The natural finishes throughout the home further reinforce the cabin’s ties to nature. Wide-planked hickory floors, a stone fireplace, knotty alder kitchen cabinets and, of course, the 6-by-8-inch eastern white pine D-shaped logs used to construct the cabin all pay homage to the outdoors.
To give the cabin a feeling of casual comfort, Debbie infused the home with warm, earth-toned furnishings and accessories. Working with family heirlooms and frequenting a local shop known for its rustic decor, she created a pleasing blend of old and new pieces that fit the cabin’s purpose perfectly. “I wanted people to walk in and feel at home right away,” Debbie explains.
Having built four traditional stick-built structures in the past, the couple knew exactly what they wanted in their home away from home. While Debbie wanted coziness inside, Art wanted to wow guests from the moment they drove onto the property. To ensure a grand entrance, he designed a 75-foot-long, catwalk-like bridge to lead from the driveway to the cabin. To make accessing the front door an even bigger adventure, he planned a cascading waterfall and sitting area complete with fire pit below.
Readying the property for building the cabin and creating an outdoor oasis wasn’t easy. For seven years, Art prepared the way. He brought in 30 tandems of shale to prepare the site, drilled wells, installed a septic system, and built the cultured stone foundation that houses their two-car garage and his workshop.
Then he and Debbie planned out every detail of the interiors before the first logs were laid. They determined where each piece of furniture would go and planned electrical outlets accordingly. “We spent six hours with our electrician,” Debbie recalls. “We wanted those electric candles in the windows, so we made sure to place an outlet under every single window.”
It was that kind of attention to detail that made construction a breeze once they teamed up with Jack Wolfe, a Kuhns Bros. Log Homes dealer and owner of Log Home Erectors. “The Hughes get all the credit,” he says. “They had a plan and knew exactly what they wanted from the start. We just put it on paper and built it.”
After the 2,500-square-foot cabin was complete, Art and Debbie looked to make the outdoor spaces as welcoming as the home itself. Art got together with his buddy Peter Giard, and in a matter of days, their work was done. The cascading waterfall Art had envisioned is now the centerpiece of the landscape, and a nearby swing beckons guests to sit and stay awhile. Just a few steps away, the outdoor fire pit begs for marshmallow roasting, storytelling and stargazing on mild evenings.
Though Art and Debbie are always on the lookout for new projects to make their place in the Poconos even more perfect, it’s clear that friends and family who come to visit think it already is. “Everyone wants to come here,” says Debbie. “Once they’re here, they tell us it’s just like a piece of heaven.”
Home Plan Details:
Square footage: 2,489
Builder/general contractor; log dealer: Log Home Erectors (888-377-3376; loghome-erectors.com)
Cabinetry; knobs/hardware: The Service Team (610-377-8450; serviceteam.com)
Caulking: Sika (800-933-7452; usa.sika.com)
Front door: Therma-Tru Doors (800-843-7628; thermatru.com)
Hardwood flooring: HomerWood – hickory (814-827-3855; homerwood.com)
Landscape designer: Peter Giard
Log provider: Kuhns Bros. Log Homes
Masonry: Tallman Masonry (570-253-4800; tallmanmasonry.com)
Roofing: Tamko – 50-year Heritage series (800-641-4691; tamko.com)
Sealants; stain: WOODguard/ISK Biocides (800-238-2523; woodguard.com)
Sliding doors; windows: Andersen Windows & Doors (800-426-4261; andersenwindows.com)