Innkeepers give a restored Texas cabin a new resting place.
Story by Michael Baxter
Photography by Brad Simmons
In 1830 a German immigrant named Farrak made his way to the lush, fertile fringes of the Texas Hill Country. It was there, near what would one day become the tiny community of Page, that he decided to settle down and build a log cottage for his future wife.
Over the years the homestead remained in the Farrak family, but the small log building fell into disrepair, eventually becoming a hay shed and home to a variety of farm animals.
More than a hundred years later, innkeepers Karen and Larry Beevers happened to discover the little old house and immediately saw through the dirt. It would be the perfect complement to their collection of other restored Texas homes on 35 acres outside of Round Top. The Settlement, one of the region’s most unique and enjoyable inn experiences, was about to get a new and historic addition.
Taking any house cross country can be challenging, but transporting a 170-year-old pegged and dovetailed log cabin proved to be a real leap of faith for the innkeepers. “It was a challenge moving the cabin across pastures, down country roads and highways,” Karen says. “We even had workers on the roof trimming the trees as we passed by. Moving the cabin intact the way we did makes you say a lot of prayers, but once we were on the pavement it was, ‘Katy bar the door!’ “
Setting the old home down in the oak-filled rolling hills between Austin and Houston was just the first of several challenges that Karen and Larry would have to overcome in the months to follow. “We didn’t want to destroy the uniqueness of the cabin, so we had to get creative to conceal the central air and heat, the plumbing and the electrical,” Larry says.
“We wanted to keep the originality, but let’s face it, as a guesthouse it has to be lived in,” he says. “We call that concept ‘rustic elegance.’ “
Much of the home’s wiring was hidden. “We put electrical plugs in the floor and had the electricians drill through some of the old oak logs so the wires weren’t really visible,” Larry says. “Then we used old-fashioned, cast-iron registers to hide the heating and air-conditioning vents.” The inside restoration involved everything, from floors and ceilings to walls and windows.
“We had a new cedar floor hand-milled for the downstairs and new cedar log rafters and ceiling joists created,” Karen says. “Then we replaced the upstairs floor with 10-inch barn boards from our Civil War-era barn.”
“Those boards were a real find,” Larry says. “When we converted the barn into a guesthouse, we found a stack of old milled oak boards in the loft. It was like finding a little treasure.”
The fireplace was reconstructed from sandstone found on the property. “We’re not sure what the original fireplace was like,” he says. “When we found the house there was a sheet of tin over the fireplace opening to keep the elements out. We took a little creative liberty because we wanted a bigger fireplace, so a local mason, Bubba Campbell, found a way to increase the overall size without cutting the logs.”
Another bit of creative license was taken with the access to the upstairs bedroom. “Like many log buildings of this period, the only way to get to the upstairs bedroom was by ladder from the outside,” Larry says. “It’s kind of hard to ask a guest to go outside and climb a ladder, so we created an indoor stairwell.”
The cabin’s sash windows were found after searching antique shops and flea markets throughout the Hill Country, and the window treatments were courtesy of General Mills. “What we did was find old flour sacks in antique shops and then sewed them into curtains,” Karen says. “There are different advertisements on different curtains. It really works well.”
At only 600 square feet, the little guesthouse doesn’t have many rooms. “There’s up, down and a bathroom,” Karen says with a laugh. “It’s pretty simple. Upstairs is a combination sitting room and bedroom, downstairs is the living room and a small bathroom.
“We attached a bathroom through one of the old window openings,” she says. “We didn’t want to cut the bottom logs, so you have to step up and over the log to go in or out. It has a cedar floor and a little red, claw-footed tub.”
The cabinet over the vanity is a cupboard from an old house, still with the wire beneath it for hanging dish towels. “There are individual hot and cold faucets, and the sink is actually a brass bucket,” Karen says. “The plumber asked what to do without an overflow in the bucket. We just told him to cut it and make it work! And, it does.”
The home is decorated in what might be called eclectic Adirondack. “We have lots of overstuffed pieces that are slip-covered, camp-style blankets thrown here and there, primitive tables, a bear head over the fireplace and Native American rugs,” she says. “The bed even has a feather mattress.”
“The walls are decorated with old hunting and fishing gear,” Larry says. “We’ve got lots of art, and I even have an old Davy Crockett coonskin cap and 1950s lamp with Davy and his musket on the base.”
“One problem with the cabin is that the guests keep buying things out of it,” Karen says. “We just kind of incorporated our old antique shop into the inn and sell out of the rooms. It’s a constant redecorating project.”
“When Karen and I designed the place I told her that I wanted it to be something that both men and women could feel comfortable in,” Larry says. “It’s like a comfortable hunting cabin where you just come to relax. Even though our home is here at the Settlement, when we want to spend a nice evening together,” he says. “Karen and I will walk over to the cabin and sit there, read, maybe build a fire and relax. It’s just a cozy little cabin in Texas.”
Styled by Joetta Moulden