A heritage-loving couple’s determination and ingenuity forged a home that encapsulates their love of nature, history, craftsmanship and one another.
Cindy and Roger Shaneyfelt built their log cabin, just as early settlers would have done, on the swell of rich, dark earth, backed by abundant woodland and fronted by a nourishing creek.
“We’d always wanted a log home that resembled an historic Southern cabin,” said Cindy, whose 2,980-square-foot cabin appears to have been in place for centuries but was finished only four years ago.
The Shaneyfelts purchased 50 verdant acres near the Alabama border in southern middle Tennessee, but it took time, commitment and an inordinate amount of manual labor to prepare the site for building the home.
“We did SO much cleaning up,” Cindy recalled with a shudder. “Car parts and just trash. It was awful.”
When the land was finally ready, the couple selected Honest Abe Log Homes, headquartered in Moss, Tennessee. Sales representative Ethan Birdwell helped navigate the design, manufacture and erection of the home.
“We wanted the old chinked-style square logs and with the spline between each log,” Roger said. “We liked Honest Abe’s log system, which has less settlement and structure shrinkage. Honest Abe was also very willing to work with us on the custom design and changes.”
The final L-shaped plan incorporates a front-facing one-and-one-half story, hand-hewn log structure with a heavy timber roof system, while the “L” is of traditional frame and truss construction covered with wood board and batten. Entering from the front porch, an entrance hall is flanked by a living room and primary bed-bath suite. Also on the main floor are the kitchen, laundry, dining room, mudroom and half bath. Two bedrooms and a full bath are upstairs.
“It took only 13 days for the erection of the logs and the framing of the back part of the house,” Cindy said, still amazed at the speed and ease of drying in the cabin.
Channeling, perhaps, the cooperative spirit of couples who’d settled the land before them, Cindy and Roger worked side by side to achieve finished living spaces, both indoors and outside, that they had envisioned.
From native Eastern red cedar wood acquired from a local sawmill, they planed and hung the boards covering several interior walls and lining closets and pantries. Cedar tree trunks were fashioned into pedestals for sinks and tables. Cedar slabs were used as front porch boards and interior and exterior stair treads. A live-edge red cedar slice became the staircase skirting. They cut and dried privet bushes, and the branches became a dramatic substitute for wood spindles in the balcony and star railings.
The laundry room leads to a 768-square-foot double garage, where Roger made work and storage spaces from fresh red cedar, while Cindy sewed curtains and curated a gallery of cat art with paintings and needlework by her and her parents, who were each talented artists.
In a life inconceivable to Roger and Cindy’s Cherokee ancestors who roamed the land or the pioneers who tamed it, the couple reclaimed it for their own, sharing it with their three dogs, two cats, and the wildlife that beckoned and sustained generations before them.
“We have deer and turkey come in our yard all the time,” Cindy said. “We are off the beaten path. Peaceful. Content. Just enjoying life at a slower pace. It’s like a vacation retreat that we get to live in all the time.”
See more photos of the Shaneyfelt cabin.