Country's Best Log Homes
Back in Time & Place
A tranquil Georgia forest is the perfect setting for relaxed living and sturdy
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."
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
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
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
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,"
"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.