Grant, whose business is Modern Rustic Homes (706-273-7140, modernrustichomes.com), has designed and built log and timber-frame homes since 1996 as an independent distributor for Jim Barna Log and Timber Homes. We asked Grant about Wild Turkey Lodge, a monumental home he designed in the Georgia highlands.
LHL: What were your client’s expectations?
MG: Our client envisioned a European hunting lodge look and feel, but with all the amenities we have come to enjoy and depend on. I went to my library and the Web to identify architectural details and materials to mimic this style: multiple levels, a mix of natural materials, high-pitched rooflines and a pattern to the windows and doors to open the spaces to the outside.
LHL: Elaborate on the architectural detailing.
MG: We wanted the house to look as if it grew from the mountain. The generous use of stone on the house anchors it to the ground. Like most lodges, the materials used were often indigenous to the area and changed as the structure went up. We used an oversized white pine log with a French dovetail corner and a hand-hewn exterior to make up the body of first floor. The gabled ends of the second level are veneered with cedar shakes and stained dark brown. The “Dutch” hip roof detail can be seen on the ends of the roofline ridge and dormers. Here we used synthetic slate on the main house and a standing-seam metal roof in an architectural bronze finish on the dormers and porches. This mix of materials, colors and finishes gives Wild Turkey Lodge interest and character that blends with the surroundings.
LHL: How does the interior introduce itself?
MG: When you walk through the front door, an alignment of connecting rooms along a single axis is created. You immediately see the view of the mountains and the Cohutta National Forest in front of you. The foyer is framed by the walls and the posts and aligned with the windows, so, again, a sight line is established, yet framed to draw your line of vision through the space. Transparency opens the house to the outdoors with the wall of windows in the great room, but also the manner in which the windows and doors are arranged. You have excellent sight lines in all directions. The fireplace in the great room creates a focal point that doesn’t conflict with the television or the staircase.
LHL: What’s another special log home design feature?
MG: The use of curved lines. The segmented tops in the windows, the radius detail of the railing in the loft, the arched collar ties, the arched panels in the doors, the curved steps leading into the lodge — these elements are intended to provide architectural alliteration. When you’re standing in the loft, the arched collar ties are concentric with the arch of the windows. This creates a sight line that pulls your eye towards the view and establishes a sense of order to the space.
LHL: This is clearly a log home, but what about other materials?
MG: Big logs set the tone of the home, but it includes 16 wood species. Many are veneers, but some are timber-frame elements.
The client also wished to use reclaimed and recycled materials wherever appropriate for both exterior and interior finishes. The synthetic slate on the roof is made of recycled plastics and replicates natural slate beautifully. The stone used was harvested in North Georgia and Tennessee. We created a pattern that has stone protruding out, with a variety of sizes and colors. The heavy timber rafters and beams are rough sawn and joined with metal plates or mortise-and-tenon joints.
The interior allowed us to use a variety of reclaimed wood species: pecky cypress, wormy chestnut, oak barn wood, alder, aspen and hemlock. One material we call “mushroom board” is salvaged from mushroom farms, power washed to remove the soil, which then yields a heavily textured grain pattern. This was used in the kitchen, guest bedrooms and a powder room. Poplar-bark siding was used at the top of the gable wall of windows in the great room and the sunroom.
The floors are recycled from a century-old warehouse in Pennsylvania. They were prefinished to eliminate any VOCs as part of our effort to respect “green” building practices. In all aspects of the build process, we considered materials and finishes that were sustainable, with low or no impact to our environment.
LHL: How did you balance the Old World look with new technology?
MG: Technology has made our homes much more enjoyable, and this is evident throughout Wild Turkey Lodge. It starts with the ability to dial up the house prior to arrival to adjust the interior temperature, turn on the hot tub or the lights. Once inside, you have a state-of-the-art media system for music, television and Internet access. The home theater has advanced optics and sound that make watching a movie a real pleasure.
LHL What log home design features turned out even better than you envisioned?
MG: You want a “wow” factor when you enter, but you also want the craftsmanship to be excellent once your eye goes beyond the view or the order of the floor plan. In this case, the craftsmanship is throughout. The oversized light ledge in the great room, the perfectly mitered rafters and beams, the meticulous details in the metal work on the fireplace screens and the balusters of the staircase — it is all there.
LHL: What are the advantages of building the home you designed?
MG: We are completely engaged throughout the project. It is difficult at best to identify all of the decisions needed up front. Our coordination with the client as designer and builder keeps the project moving forward and allows attention to the details.