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This Home is Proof that Two Ideas are Better Than One

A pair of northeastern natives creates a cozy cabin that masterfully blends their personal visions of home.

Written by Suzanna Logan
Photography by Kris Miller


It was a pretty summer day in 2018 when Keith Burgess decided to spend it boating with his daughter and her family on Cheat Lake in West Virginia. Little did he know, it was an outing that would change his life, because just down the road, Janet Drain also had agreed to join her daughter for a day on the boat. As is local tradition, after some time out on the open water, boats from across the lake pulled into “Party Cove,” an area where the vibe perfectly matches the name. 

“I wasn’t into boat hopping. So, I’m just sitting there, and here comes Keith floating up,” says Janet. “We started talking, and he told me he is a plumber. I shared that my last name was Drain, and the rest is history,” she laughs. 

Fast forward a year from their serendipitous meeting; the couple had discovered they both shared a life-long dream of owning a cabin in the woods­, just with slightly different details. Her vision was an A-frame; his, a traditional log home. 

They each had plans of carrying out a build on their own. “He already owned property, but it wasn’t in a place I wanted to live,” explains Janet. “So I said, ‘You build over there, and I’ll build over here.’” But after an in-passing suggestion from Janet’s daughter, the two made the bold move to meld their two visions together. 

In their case, the saying “teamwork makes the dream work” was more than a catchy platitude. “It really was a team effort for everything,” says Janet. From buying 10 acres of property at auction, to selling their individual homes to secure a bank loan for construction, to coming up with a collaborative design that married their different visions — Keith and Janet made every decision together.

With Janet’s blessing, Keith began the search for a log home company. He started with a visit to Amish-owned Hochstetler Log Homes. “I was so impressed with how the logs were done, and how clean the facilities were, I got a price and never looked anywhere else,” he says. 

After reviewing Hochstetler’s collection of pre-existing floor plans, the couple took elements of three separate designs to come up with their own custom layout. A simple, 1,800-square-foot log home emerged with nods to Janet’s dream A-frame cabin. She was especially pleased with the steep-angled roof, the open layout with high ceilings, the abundant natural light and, of course, the snug loft space. 

As for Keith, he was thrilled to finally have a log home. Constructed with eastern white pine, 8-by-8-inch D-logs with butt-and-pass corners, the structure features Douglas fir posts in the roof and porch systems. Outside, rough-sawn cedar provides the trim and complements the logs’ smooth finish. “It creates a lovely contrast, especially when stained,” says Brett Martin, the Hochstetler Log Homes design consultant who spearheaded the project. While a natural-oak stain seals the exterior, the interior is stained “Hazelnut,” with a lighter tone called “Tea with Milk” highlighting the interior doors and trim work. 

From the deliberately simple layout to the interior finish choices, a guiding principle led the couple through the home building process: “It had to be warm and cozy,” shares Janet. “We aren’t fancy people, and we wanted the home to feel comfortable.”

It’s safe to say the couple accomplished their goal, as the cabin is now a favored gathering spot for both Keith and Janet’s families. The shared living area, dining room and kitchen are regularly filled with family and friends. “Everything happens in front of the fireplace: football games, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas morning,” shares Janet. 

When the house is bursting with activity, the indoor-outdoor areas expand the livable space. The front porch, outfitted with rustic tables and chairs, welcomes guests and beckons them to linger, while a four-season sunroom off the main living area, a spacious rear deck and a private balcony off the loft bedroom invite the owners and their visitors to slow down and enjoy the view. 

Now, after two years of enjoying all the home has to offer inside and out, the toils of the process are a distant memory. “Living in a camper, working full time, getting it all done... it was a labor of love,” shares Janet. “But from start to finish, we did it together and everything just fell into place.” 

With a nod to fate, Keith adds: “It seems like all along this is what our future was supposed to be.” 


Home Details

Square footage: 1,800

Bedrooms: 2

Baths: 2 Full, 1 Half

Log Provider/Designer: Hochstetler Log Homes 


See Also: A Log Home Full of Love

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