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A Blue Ridge Mountains Timber Frame

A Florida artist's journey of discovery leads unexpectedly to a timber-frame home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Written by James Askew
Photography by James Ray Spahn
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Photo Credit: James Ray Spahn
 
A few years ago, Candice Hayden’s idea of a cabin in the mountains was fairly traditional. She envisioned it being heavy with wood, most likely logs, and dark and warm and cozy — reminiscent of a vacation home she once owned, deep in the woods of Maine. As a painter and sculptor, the Florida resident had long enjoyed escaping to the artsy enclave of Asheville, North Carolina, but it wasn’t until boyfriend Michael Kingsley suggested taking a trip to Linville Gorge in the Pisgah National Forest that Candice first saw Blowing Rock, a quaint little town just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was love at first sight. “Within months, we were taking trips to look for a cabin,” Candice recalls.
 
 
With her image of a rustic, log cabin in mind, Candice intended to find a home already built. As fate would have it, however, a relaxing walk in the woods one afternoon led her in an entirely new direction. She and Michael had rented a cabin outside of Blowing Rock from which to stage their search, but they found nothing they liked.
 
Another walk changed all that. Not far from the cabin, they came upon a lot for sale: 10 pristine acres with an expansive westerly view of the tree-capped peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. “The amazing thing about the property is that it’s no more than five to 10 minutes outside Blowing Rock,” Candice points out, “but you would think you were smack-dab in the middle of nowhere.”
 
Without a moment’s hesitation, Candice snatched up the property. Within a few months, she’d found a builder, had plans in hand and was all set to build. Then, once more, fate intervened. Her deal with the first building company fell through. In retrospect, Candice says she couldn’t be happier that it did.
 
Scrambling to find another builder on short notice, Candice spotted an advertisement for Mountain Construction in Boone, North Carolina, and called the owner, Mark Kirkpatrick. As a project manager and distributor for Hearthstone Homes, a log-and-timber-home company in east Tennessee, Kirkpatrick had been designing and building timber-frame homes for more than 25 years. He listened to Candice’s ideas about the home she dreamed of and then introduced her to the beauty of a timber-frame design. “I didn’t even know what a timber-frame home was,” Candice admits, “until we went to look a home Mark had built for a friend.”
 
Kirkpatrick took her and Michael to see a home he had designed and built in nearby Black Mountain. It was a revelation that changed Candice’s life. “It was like, ‘Wow, so this is what a timber-frame home is,’” she recounts. “It gave just enough warmth without being continuous log. It had enough wall space to do fun things with, and yet it had the warmth of the big timbers. So it was a real nice combination.”
 
 
Candice promptly scrapped her existing plans and, with a few minor tweaks to Kirkpatrick’s design, had the timber-frame plan she wanted: a 4,018-square-foot, saltbox-style, hybrid timber-frame home, perched on the edge of a sloping lot, with three tiers of deck extending out over the Johns River Gorge below. The overarching design of the home attends to what Kirkpatrick describes as “designing to the community,” meaning it blends with its Appalachian surroundings.
The exterior of the home features white pine, featheredge siding for the lower portion of the walls and locally harvested, poplar-bark siding for the upper portions. Inside the home, with natural white pine used for the timbers, the trim and the tongue-and-groove ceilings provide the abundance of wood that Candice craved, while keeping the home airy and bright.
 
For the interior, Candice admits that she and Kingsley shopped for it all over the course of a long weekend. Candice bought all of the home’s lighting fixtures online from Lamps.com, the furniture from Broyhill and many of the throw rugs from Capel Rugs, a North Carolina company.
 
“We just did this by the seat of our pants,” she explains.
 
For Candice, building a custom timber-frame home turned out to be not about getting what she always wanted but about discovering all that she had never imagined, as she moved, joyfully, from one surprise to the next. Since the home’s completion, her discoveries continue: Deer, bear and wild turkey are regular guests, and the color of the maroon walls in the great room shifts and changes with the wax and wane of the season’s light. To top it all off, Candice says, “Waking up and being able to look out at the mountains is really pretty cool.”