If there is one thing you can say about Roy Meryl (and there are lots of things you can say about Roy and his likable, larger-than-life personality), it’s that he is a man who sets his mind to something and sees it through.
So, when Roy decided that a log home was what his one-acre slice of land on the Allegheny River north of Pittsburgh needed, there was no doubt that’s what it would have. He and his wife, Darlene, came up with a plan they loved — a throwback to a 70’s-style Swiss chalet with a steeply pitched roof and modified prow front — and began shopping it to log home companies.
The companies Roy approached hesitated at his design. “Most of the time that style is looking out at a ski mountain, but Roy wanted his looking at a river,” explains Richard Titorenko, the Coventry Log Homes’ representative who sealed the deal. Despite the pushback, Roy stuck to his guns.
Fondly known as “River Roy,” thanks to his love of boating and the water, he is no stranger to going against the current, but he’s far from disagreeable. In fact, it’s Roy’s love for family, friends and country that influenced his decision to build a log home in the first place. He didn’t just want a place to gather his and Darlene’s blended family of seven children. He envisioned a sanctuary where he could bring his community together by hosting weddings and outdoor concerts.
To get the 2,100-square-foot house with finished basement built, Roy took on the role of general contractor and assembled a team, including a local builder and a crew of subcontractors. With the help of a friend, Marco DeGasperi, and lots of sweat equity (the couple did everything from sanding and staining the logs to laying tile), the house was complete within six months.
Now, the Meryls say the home is their favorite place to be. “There’s a sense of relaxation and accomplishment all wrapped up here,” Darlene says. The structure’s classic handcrafted elements — arched doorways, brick fireplace, wrought iron railings — are cozy and comfortable, but a smart floor plan brings the space into the modern era. Though far from sprawling, the layout has a spacious, easy-flowing feel thanks to an open plan that’s anchored by a centrally-located staircase. “No matter where you are in the house, you don’t feel cut off,” explains Darlene. The living room and dining area share prime real estate behind the glass prow, while the kitchen allows for interaction and a serene workspace, thanks to a half wall and a sliding barn door.
A guest suite, office and laundry room round out the first-floor offerings. Upstairs, an open walkway leads to a master suite with his and hers closets, along with an added storage space. In the walk-out basement, a built-in bar and pool table keep everyone entertained.
True to its intent, inside and out, the property is made for sharing. In addition to the home itself, a separate one-bedroom apartment above the log-clad detached garage and a stone pavilion by the river practically beg for visitors. “The pavilion started as a place to picnic, and $150,000 later, we were done,” laughs Roy. The outdoor living paradise includes a covered outdoor kitchen with fireplace, flanked by a concrete patio on one side and a deck on the other.
Thanks to the couple’s open-door policy, all of the property’s gathering areas — from the house, to the apartment to the pavilion — stay in constant use. That’s especially true during the summer months when the couple host community concerts. Neighbors gather with their coolers and blankets, while a couple of hundred boats anchor down in front of the Meryls’ stretch of riverfront to take in the tunes and watch the fireworks that Roy puts on just for fun.
“It’s a revolving door,” says Roy. “We never know who we’re going to meet.”
Square Footage: 2,100 (Not including above-garage apartment)
Bathrooms: 2 Full
Log Provider: Coventry Log Homes