Country's Best Log Homes
January 2005

Back in Time & Place
A tranquil Georgia forest is the perfect setting for relaxed living and sturdy log construction.
Story by Margaret A. Haapoja    Photos by F&E Schmidt

A covered breezeway leads from the house into the garage, and more than 6,000 s/f of porches and decks surround the house.

Jim and Jeri Strickland and their family camped on Lake Lanier north of Atlanta, GA., for many years when their children were young.  They had always longed to own a home on the lake, but it wasn't until Jim retired 10 years ago that they realized that dream.  "We wanted a wilderness or woodsy setting and a home that would complement that setting," says Jim, "so we felt a log home would be a natural."  Jeri wanted a retreat where their entire family - children and grandchildren included - could gather on weekends and relax.
The couple searched for the perfect piece of property for a long time before they found 7.5 acres with 1,000 feet of waterfront on Lake Lanier back in 1986, several years before they began to build.  Then they began to educate themselves about log homes.  "We didn't know anything about log homes, and we had to sell ourselves on the idea that it was a good thing to do," says Jim. "So we spent two years researching companies, methods, different kinds of logs, the log technology, and all aspects of log homes.  We went through virtually every log home company we could find before settling on Hearthstone."
Hearthstone has been in the log home business since 1971, having begun as a restorer of Appalachian-style log homes.  The company reproduces log homes as they were built 200-300 years ago, including hand-hewing the logs and using authentic chink spaces, according to the company's marketing manager Tommi Jamison.
The Strickland's log package comprised a combination of western hemlock and Eastern White Pine logs, 8 inches thick and 16 inches tall, with a compound dovetail notch system. "It was one of the first homes to have the through-bolt system," remembers Hearthstone Project Manager, John Ricketson.  "In Japan we had started doing homes with the threaded-rod or through-bolt system with a compression spring to meet Japanese seismic requirements.  We believe the Strickland home could withstand a tornado or an earthquake because it was built to Japanese national codes, which far exceed what we have in the United States."

A fireplace faced with Tennessee fieldstone soars 27 feet to the great room ceiling, and walls paneled with spruce in a board-and-batten pattern are stained with Minwax Provincial finish to match the hand-hewn logs.

A rocking chair from Jeri's mother's house and a teddy bear Jeri has had since first grade add to the warmth of the master bedroom.



A programmable 12-station irrigation system keeps the landscape well watered
from the lake.
Ricketson calls the Strickland home as pure a form of a log home as you'll ever see.  "We used a foot adze to hew the logs and put broad axe marks on them like they did years ago," he says.  "Of course ours are decorative whereas theirs were functional."
Jim credits Jeri with the layout of the home. "When we decided we were going to relocate, she started putting together plans for our dream home on the backs of envelopes and napkins," he says.  "Tom by room, she decided how she would like the house laid out.  We had a thick stack of sketches that reflected the process of what we learned through the years from the houses we lived in and others we'd visited.  She did a great job."
Jeri says she loves log homes because they remind her of simpler times, and she wanted to create a home that was combination lodge and old farmhouse.  "We've always enjoyed retreating form the noise and stress of the city to places of solitude, so you can imagine how we quite naturally chose a log home when we got the opportunity to relocate to simpler and quieter times on the lake," she says.  "We tried to create a lodge atmosphere to promote the feeling of tranquility and serenity for those who enter."
The home is large, with 7,210 s/f on three levels.  Jim and Jeri originally hoped their children would be sharing the lake home often, but all three moved far enough away that the family only gets together during holidays now.
Tory Torstenson, co-owner of Torjin, Inc., in Juliette, GA., was the Stricklands' general contractor. He has built more than 150 log homes, many of them Hearthstone projects.  "The magnitude of this project was the most memorable thing," he says.  "It's the biggest house and the most extensive project I've ever done.  It is the only log house I've built that had a log garage, carport, and breezeway.  And there are about 3,000 s/f of covered porches and 3,000 to 3,500 s/f of deck on different levels."
"We wanted lots of porches and decks so we could sit out there in our rocking chairs and relax," says Jeri.  Indeed, she and Jim now have 14 rocking chairs on porches that surround the entire house, with the exception of the area in front of the breakfast nook.  "We were afraid if we put a 12-foot porch in front of that room, it would destroy our view of the lake," says Jim.  He and Jeri use the small deck off the kitchen mostly for grilling or sitting.  The lower deck is quite expansive, and they often entertain large groups in that area.

A charming breakfast area looks out into the woods.
The house has three fireplaces, all of them woodburning with gas lighters and all Isokern high-efficiency, zero-clearance units constructed of volcanic pumice; they supplement the home's heating system.  Four separate propane-fired Lennox high-efficiency gas furnaces and four air-conditioning units keep the house comfortable year round.  "The idea is that if we're not in that part of the house, we don't run that furnace or A/C unit," says Jim.
"Jeri and I rarely se the upstairs, so we just run that system at 60 degrees in the winter, and in the summer we don't cool it like the rest of the house.  I've been very pleased with the way the thermal mass of the logs hold the heat.  You would be amazed at what our heating bills are.  We get asked that quite often because most people think it costs a fortune to heat a log home, but that's not true.  It's very energy efficient."
Jim remembers that Torstenson was astonished at the number of windows and doors in the house. "We have 66 openings," Jim says, "and we chose Andersen simulated divided light windows."  Jeri and Jim also tried to incorporate plenty of lighting, direct and indirect, to compensate for all the wood surfaces and the dark paints and wallpapers.
Both Jim and Jeri love the look of wood so much that they used very little drywall in the home.  They covered the floors in all the rooms except the bedrooms with five-inch red oak plant flooring.  They used 1-by-12-inch spruce milled to resemble shiplap and applied it vertically in the great room.  "What I like most about the home is the warmth," says Jim.  "Even though it's a fairly large log home, it still feels cozy.  The superstructure in the great room is just so massive and so beautiful.  And I like the solid nature of the house.  It's so user-friendly that the maintenance is almost nothing.  If I want to hang a picture on the wall, I just drive a nail into the logs.  If I want to modify something, I can just do it and you'll never know it wasn't built that way."
Jim added wiring for a SurroundSound system throughout the home after the house was completed.  "I had to get the wires everywhere and you can't tell where they are," he says.  "All you've got to do is make a piece of wood trim and it looks like it's part of the house.  The log also have a 3-inch chink joint which is useful for running wires and pipes."
Jim and Jeri names their lake home after a children's book, Bridge to Terabithia, about a private hideaway in the woods.  "We felt that way when we came up here," says Jim, "like we were in our own little world, so we thought Terabithia was an appropriate name for this place."  The Stricklands are so pleased with their log home that they have also built a Hearthstone log vacation home in Franklin, North Carolina.

John Ricketson
Project Manager
120 Carriage Drive, Macon, GA  31210
(877) 662-6135 Toll Free
(478) 474-9370 or FAX (478) 477-6535


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