Photography courtesy of Modern Rustic Homes
Each November, Jack and Patty Cartwright host a hayride, bonfire and campout at their log home in the mountains of north Georgia. On average, 250 to 300 friends and clients join the fun. Guests bunk up in the Cartwrights’ five-bedroom home, camp on their land or rent other cabins in the area.
“Last year it snowed,” Jack remembers, making everyone glad for the bonfire and outdoor fireplaces. Whether it’s a weekend filled with visitors and activity or quieter days, the Cartwrights’ lodge-style home is the perfect setting, but it took some doing to get there.
Smitten with the Ellijay, Georgia, area, the couple began their search for land in the 1990s.
“We looked for five years,” Jack recalls. “One weekend we went up, and the broker said ‘he found it.’”
Unfortunately, that property wasn’t on the market yet. The Cartwrights scouted it out and told the owner if he was willing to sell, they would buy it that day. The owner agreed and Patty and Jack had their dream lot.
“We wanted some water: It has a trout stream,” Jack explains. “We also wanted level land to grow trees for our business and mountain views.”
At nearly 100 acres, the property offers plenty of space and is just over an hour’s drive from their primary home and landscaping business in Atlanta. First, the couple built a small log cabin on the property.
When Patty’s parents decided to sell their home in the city, the Cartwrights began planning a second larger home for the property; one that would allow her mom and dad to age in place.
The couple’s must-have list for the home included stone fireplaces inside and out and a large kitchen.
“And we wanted to take in views of the pasture, creek and mountains,” Jack says.
They turned to Michael Grant of Modern Rustic Homes in Ellijay to help them pull their ideas together. “They came with a floor plan in our catalog that they liked,” Michael says, “but then I went to see their property and realized that plan wouldn’t work.”
The sloped site, a need to have easy access from the outdoors into the main level and a desire to capture radial views called for a new direction.
The final design for the 5,500-square-foot home includes two generous master suites on the first floor, an open great room, wide hallways and doorways and a walk-out terrace with a large rec room and a second kitchen to help the Cartwrights entertain a crowd.
After seeing Modern Rustic’s model home, Patty and Jack had planned to build with squared, hand-hewn logs. However, while attending a log home show in Atlanta, they saw large round handcrafted logs and fell in love.
Working with Michael and Jim Barna Log & Timber Homes, the couple purchased a log shell handcrafted of Douglas fir from British Columbia. Grant and the Cartwrights specified all of the other building materials — from doors and windows to flooring and roofing — to be purchased from other suppliers.
Handcrafted stairs lead from the entry foyer to a loft with a bedroom and bath. The stairs’ railing is a naturally curved piece of wood cut in British Columbia and shipped to the site with the home’s log package. In one of the main-floor master suites, a loft is accessed by a spiral staircase.
Jack and Patty chose luxurious finishes throughout the home with granite countertops in both kitchens and authentic stone masonry in the home’s interior and exterior wood-burning fireplaces. Stone accents on the exterior add visual texture.
“The stone anchors the home to the property, gives it authenticity and makes it look strong,” Michael says. “The house commands the site.”
Since the house was completed in 2006, the Cartwrights have developed a maintenance schedule. They re-treat the exterior logs every two to three years and contract with a pest company to protect the home’s soft-wood trim from carpenter bees. During the first few years, they adjusted the walls as the large logs dried and settled, but now the settling has ceased.
With landscapers for owners, the site reveals their expertise: Large boulders accent the grounds, along with walkways, a rolling lawn, a bridge over the stream, hiking trails and beautifully planted beds. Since Patty’s father passed away and her mom has moved to assisted living, Jack and Patty now rent out the home, blocking certain weeks for themselves.
They host extended family and friends in the summer and holidays. Visitors take full advantage of the ample outdoor spaces, including a sweeping deck that looks out over the valley.
A hot tub and porch swing guarantee relaxation, but there’s no shortage of activity. A home theater with tiered seating is located on the lower level, and the terrace-level garage has been converted into a game room with billiards, Ping-pong and a pinball machine. The trout stream is stocked for anglers to try their luck. When he and Patty are there, Jack likes to work in the nursery.
“And I love to hike and just enjoy the land,” he says
Patty looks forward to the rest and relaxation the home affords; it’s a welcome break from the hectic pace of working in a family-owned business. The couple achieved their goal of creating a refuge with welcoming warmth.
“When you walk in, you can’t even hear a sound from the outside,” Jack says. “It’s so peaceful.”
Square Footage: 5,500
Bedrooms: 5 plus loft
Bathrooms: 5 full, 1 half