North Carolina owners creatively
maximize space and surroundings

Story by Cathy Nelson Price
Photography by Roger Wade

When Pat Barry and Diane Carpenter began making post-career decisions, their status as professional educators came in handy. Well-honed long-range planning skills helped them to incorporate into their new log home design details that would enable them to live there even if one or both someday required a caretaker. Their 1,900-square-foot home, nestled in rural Lenoir, North Carolina, satisfies the women’s needs for today, with an eye on tomorrow.
Though they are both well shy of retirement age, Pat and Diane decided that leaving the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and returning to the area where Pat grew up would be their last move. “We’ve moved enough,” Diane says, “and we planned this home with the idea that we could stay here as long as our health permitted.”


They started planning five years ago, reading articles and visiting log homes. While attending a log home seminar in Charlotte, North Carolina, they chose Harmony Exchange in Boone, North Carolina, as their log supplier. “We kept coming back to their station,” Pat says, “because they were low-key and encouraging about the kind of design we wanted.”


That design included a timbered roof system and log siding, rather than a full-log exterior, with solid log corners and tongue-and-groove paneling for the interior.


Working with Harmony’s Mark Howell and a team of designers, Pat and Diane compiled their wish list and continually researched the possibilities. “We kept running into things we liked in the magazines,” Diane says. “Of course, none of them was in the same house, and everything had to be reversed!”


Local builder Joe Wilson supervised the project with onsite technical assistance from Harmony Exchange. “Log siding is the best of both worlds for those who don’t want a full-log home,” Mark says. “It looks like full log from the outside, but it’s constructed more like a stick-built home. Log siding actually is easier to build because of its less-complicated roofline.”


The log effect is heightened by a ridge beam and rafter frame, white cedar siding on the exterior and tongue-and-groove spruce roof paneling over the truss system. The hand-peeled rail system on the porch and the interior hand rail both are western ponderosa pine, chosen for its stability.


“One of my jobs was designing physical education facilities for high schools and middle schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, so we knew a little more about the realities of construction,” Pat says.


Pat and Diane made 13 visits to the building site during the nine months of construction in 1998. But they got what they wanted: a single-story home over a full basement, with complete living quarters on one floor and habitable space below which, if necessary, could become a caretaker’s quarters.


“We wanted everything on the main level, including the laundry room, with additional storage space downstairs,” Diane says. That meant two bedrooms, a double bath with both shower and tub, a great room area with an 18-foot ceiling and a gas fireplace, a laundry room (between the kitchen and back bedroom) and a kitchen with an elevated dishwasher, laid out to accommodate wheelchair access around its island.

Because the main living area is relatively compact, Pat and Diane wanted to make the most of the space they had while still accommodating future needs. Rather than walk-ins, the bedroom closets run the full length of one wall and are several inches deeper than standard. Doorways throughout the home are 36 inches wide. From a bigger perspective, “We did not want to waste space with hallways,” Pat says.


Diane adds, “That’s why the stairwell is in the middle–to connect the two halves of the house.”


The space saved went to good use, creating a double bathroom that addresses long-term needs. “If you have to remake or rebuild a bathroom,” Pat says, “it can cost a great deal.” They chose an acrylic block tub and installed grab bars in both the shower and the tub. In addition, the shower stall has a 48-by-48-inch seat. Pocket doors facilitate easy entrance.


In mid-sized homes, light creates the illusion of more space. Harmony’s package incorporates indigenous eastern white pine for the frame. “Its lighter color keeps the rooms light,” Mark says.


The stairwell features white cedar rails from Colorado and is illuminated by a skylight. Flexible mylar skylights serve the kitchen. Prefinished maple flooring and white pine interior paneling maintain a cheery warmth in the open floorplan.


“Most of the homes we build are 3,000 square feet and under,” Mark says. “Our bread-and-butter is the 1,200-square-foot home.” He cites its quick turnaround time as the primary reason. “It’s assembled in our yard, taken apart and reassembled onsite,” he says. “It can go up in one day.”


With two exterior porches, a two-car garage and basement quarters that include an office, den and fitness room, Pat and Diane’s home is more than the sum of its square footage. Its roomy layout, expandable living space and practical, long-range comforts are encouraging starting points for log home buyers looking for something mid-range. As for the house being considered small, Pat has the last word. “It’s small,” she says, “until you start cleaning it!”



For a list of companies who contributed to the home, see the May 2001 issue of Log Home Living