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All in the Mix: A Tennessee Mountain Cabin

A model home in the Smoky Mountains uses mixed media to convey a cozy sensibility.
by Holly O'Dell | Photos by F&E Schmidt

The term “spec home” may conjure images of cookie-cutter design and standard construction. But for this model home that Highlands Log Structures built in the Smoky Mountains, “spec” could easily stand for “spectacular.”

Running the length of the home, a covered deck provides protection from the elements and serves as a relaxing place to enjoy the great outdoors.

Highlands’ owners, Pam and Winston Johnson, constructed the custom cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with an eye toward craftsmanship and easy living. Situated on a 2-acre lot that showcases majestic mountain views, the home makes a grand first impression, thanks to eastern white pine Scandinavian full-scribe logs in a Swedish cope profile.

“We used elements like large overhangs, different rooflines, king-post trusses, and double and triple trim on the outside to add a little more depth,” Pam notes. “The idea was to give people different things to look at as they approached the home.” Other prominent exterior features include fascia and soffits made of western red cedar, as well as a covered porch enclosed by a white cedar railing that runs the full length of the home.

Inside, Highlands had key design goals it wanted to meet — namely an open floor plan. “We were able to open up the kitchen into the dining room and great room with just a couple of support posts,” Pam says. The flowing layout also allowed the company to meet another of its objectives: capturing panoramic mountain vistas in the living area and main-level master bedroom through large expanses of glass.

Built to entertain, the kitchen features stainless steel Energy Star appliances, a large bar area, pantry and plenty of counter space. Meanwhile, the walkout basement encourages recreation with a game room and access to the outdoors. There’s no shortage of accommodations either: With many bedrooms and several sleeper sofas, the home can sleep 32.

The game room in the lower level is the perfect place to unwind, with features such as a pool table, fireplace, large-screen TV, pub table and access to an outdoor patio.

Eye-catching details follow through to the interiors — most notably with a mixture of wood species to complement the logs. Maple flooring covers the main and upper levels, while poplar bark trim around doors and windows serves as an accent piece. White cedar also plays a big role in the staircase railing and three large character posts. Exterior doors are made of mahogany, and pine is used in the tongue-and-groove walls and ceilings, as well as the interior doors.

Above all, Pam and Winston aimed to create a design that emphasized livability without sacrificing style or a sense of coziness. “We wanted the home to be elegant and grand at the same time,” Pam says. “We also wanted it to feel warm, which can be hard to do when you’re making the floor plan open. So we mixed a variety of elements together to make the home comfortable. There’s a great flow through the house.”

A solid pine door leads to the master bathroom, designed as a welcoming respite for homeowners with elements such as separate tiled shower, a soaking tub and a large window overlooking a wooded area. The tongue-and-groove pine used on the front of the soaking tub repeats in the interior wall, which contrasts nicely with the hickory vanity.

With a smart layout and such attention to detail, the owners who recently purchased Highlands’ spec home are bound to agree that this log package is nothing short of spectacular.

Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 3,246 (as shown)
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3.5
Log species: eastern white pine
Log provider: Highlands Log Structures, Abingdon, VA (866-924-4564;
Masonry: Blue Ridge Stone Mfg, Meadowview, VA (276-676-0040;
Log provider: Highlands Log Structures, Abingdon, VA (866-924-4564;
Masonry: Blue Ridge Stone Mfg, Meadowview, VA (276-676-0040;

Published in Country's Best Cabins
Comment Feed

3 Responses

  1. Amazing—great job guys. Love it.

    Kevin & April WoodJune 21, 2013 @ 3:07 pmReply
  2. What stain manufactor has the longest lifespan before needing to restain or put on a maintance coat in the smoky mountain area?

    • Micki: In general, stains with pigmentation tend to last longer than clear stains. Your best bet is to contact builders or dealers in that area to see what has generally worked best for them based on that particular location.

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