Photography by James Ray Spahn
A storybook log home that seems well suited for New York’s Adirondack Mountains looks perfectly at home in Pennsylvania. Its Great Camps styling and rustic furnishings are Kathy and Chip Duane’s attempt to re-create fond memories of the vast Adirondacks wilderness.
As a child, Kathy spent several summer vacations with her family at Lake George. After she and Chip married, they celebrated every Valentine’s Day by returning to the Adirondacks to enjoy the winter season at The Point. Built on the site of Camp Wondundra, this resort was home to William Avery Rockefeller during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and boasts lavish Adirondack-style accommodations reminiscent of the Great Camps. When the couple planned their second home, they used The Point as their inspiration.
The Duanes hoped to build in the Adirondacks, but the right property either wasn’t available or cost too much. They turned elsewhere and spent a year searching before serendipitously seeing a flyer for a new highlands development in northeast Pennsylvania, called The Woods at Duck Harbor. The whole family visited, and, while walking through the woods there, Kathy was struck by how similar the terrain was to the mountains in the Adirondacks. It included groves of hemlock trees and an icy stream, where they discovered a beaver dam, and a pond, which Kathy imagined her grandchildren ice-skating across.
Less than four hours later, they had purchased 20 acres of lakefront property at the crest of a mountain that included the pond and stream. Rather than build beside the lake, they decided to locate the house near the stream and the pond, and use the lakefront for swimming and to dock their pontoon boat.
The Duanes realized a log home was ideal for these scenic woodlands. Having worked many years as a design-build contractor, Kathy took charge of the project. To honor the style of the Great Camps, she chose standing-dead, scribe-fit handcrafted logs from Idaho and had Wahconah Log Homes in North Carolina craft the shell. She didn’t want any Sheetrock inside, so all of the interior walls and ceilings are covered with pine beadboard.
Kathy designed the 3,600-square-foot vacation home to accommodate her and Chip, as well as their two children, spouses, grandchildren and parents. In keeping with the design of the Great Camps, she planned a 40-foot-long central great room. While many of the lodges have fireplaces on both ends, with a seating area on one side and a large dining room on the other, Kathy centered the dining room and put seating areas on both ends, in front of each of two fireplaces. This arrangement allowed people to have before-dinner cocktails in one seating area and after-dinner coffee and dessert in the other, away from the kitchen clutter.
Separate entrances from the garage, wooded backyard and driveway allow easy access. At each entryway, Kathy installed easy-maintenance slate, so any snow or mud could be cleaned up without damaging the wide-plank pine floors found in the remainder of the home.
Kathy’s design went beyond the look and layout. “When I am formulating plans for a home, I also include the furniture-placement plan so that once the structure is completed, the family will be able to comfortably enjoy the home without any surprises. I did the same for our home,” she says. “The first piece we purchased for our new home was an antique farm table for the kitchen, which we stored in our garage. During the first several months of construction, we were able to acquire all of the furniture for the house, knowing the furniture would fit once construction was completed. This expedited our move-in time.”
Chip and Kathy bought most of the heavier furnishings from Old Hickory Furniture Company. “I wanted to be able to seat 10 people at our round dining room table, with a Lazy Susan in the middle,” she recalls. “They initially sent us one that was only 2 feet in diameter, but we had to stand up from our 72-inch-diameter table to reach anything. It didn’t work, so they custom-made one that is 3 feet in diameter, and it is perfect.”
To provide an authentic 19th-century Great Camp atmosphere, Kathy turned to many Adirondack artisans for furniture, twig railings, ironwork and lighting fixtures. Locally, Mike Barber of Rustic Cottage built three twig bedroom dressers and the master bathroom linen cabinet.
Connected to the home by a boardwalk is a two-car garage with a 350-square-foot apartment. Although Kathy wanted both the main house and the apartment to reflect the Adirondack theme, Chip had other plans. The latter sports a Texas motif, with cowboy hats, leather sofas, rifles, Indian motif rug and longhorn steer skulls.
The home’s decor revolves around two themes: winter and grandchildren. “We spend a great deal of time on our boat in New York during the summer,” Kathy says, “so we planned the cabin as a winter weekend retreat. Antique skis, old Red Flyer sleds and heavy velvet drapes set the mood for a snowy hideaway.”
For their grandchildren, the Duanes created a fairyland. “We put up a 12-foot Christmas tree in the great room our first Christmas there,” Kathy notes. “I told our grandson the wood nymphs moved into the tree, so we couldn’t take it down. Now it is Christmas all year round.”
Retirement suits Kathy and Chip, who spend their time sailing in the summer and escaping to their Adirondacks getaway in Pennsylvania in the winter. “When we pull into the driveway, Chip and I both just take a deep breath and let out a collective sigh,” Kathy says. “The air smells like flowers, even in the winter time. There is no Internet, cable or cell phone service, so it is very peaceful here. It’s just as I remember as a child with my family at Lake George. It’s perfect.”
3,600 Log Provider:
Wahconah Log Homes Builder:
K.Q. Duane Designs
See also Why Pennsylvania Farmland Is the Best Place to Build a Log Cabin