Joe and Elina Rodriguez’s dream house represents a great compromise for these two water babies raised on the beaches of South Florida. Both loving beach and water, but now living in Atlanta, the distance to Florida was prohibitive for weekend getaways and an eventual retirement home. They didn’t have far to look for an ideal property; they chose a close-by water venue, less than two hours away, on the shore of Lake Hartwell in South Carolina for their vacation home.
In 2006, after doing considerable research on several log home companies, they chose Golden Eagle as the log supplier for their planned 3,400-square-foot log home. Among the things that impressed them about Golden Eagle was the company’s green manufacturing practices. Joe explains that Golden Eagle reuses all parts of the Eastern white pine logs with which they build their homes. “I was impressed that they even use the sawdust from the logs to heat their facility—no waste there.”
Joe, a custom home builder at the time, worked primarily on stick-built houses. However, after he saw the packages that Golden Eagle offered, not only did he build this, his first log home, but became an independent builder/dealer for Golden Eagle. Given his profession as a builder, he says he recognized fine workmanship and quality materials when he saw them.
Joe feels that, in general, log is a very green product because it provides natural insulation to keep the house warm in winter and cool in the summer. “However,” he explains, “I did add extra insulation in our house to provide a sound barrier between the three levels.”
Among the first things the family now recommends to those building a second home is to make sure that it is easily accessible to your full-time house. They have found that because their log getaway is a short hop from Atlanta, it makes it an easy-access destination. They can reach it quickly and therefore they use it far more than they would if a great deal of travel time and gas were necessary. So, aside from the fact that they love the house, they spend most weekends there because, as all realtors know and they have learned, it’s all about location, location, location.
Another of the home’s benefits is the design and layout that allow Joe and Elina to maximize use of all its rooms. For example, the middle level of the house contains the great room, kitchen, and master bedroom suite. That means their two kids, 21-year-old Alex and 15-year-old Andre, use the downstairs area with more hang-out space; this way the quiet of the upstairs bedrooms is reserved for visiting guests. Everyone can have a separate area and still come together. They think this is a practical way to use a multigenerational home.
Among the other design aspects that the family loves is the almost open floorplan. At the same time, the kitchen opens into an “L” that faces both a large indoor dining area and an outdoor screened dining area, just beyond. Joe says, “This is a practical solution for the person who does the cooking because there is still a connection to the great room and the opportunity to talk with family and guests, while not putting a possibly messy set of dishes, pots, and pans within easy view of the living room area.”
Another reason the Rodriguez clan gets to enjoy their home so much is that during the building process, Joe made sure that the house would be as maintenance free as possible. He opted to install Senco high-performance windows and doors. Joe feels that they have a look that works well with log, but since they are wood inside and metal clad outside, they are energy efficient. Joe is delighted that all he really has to do to keep the house looking great is to power wash it about once a year and to touch up caulking and staining once every five to seven years. “However,” he says, “this is the scheduled year that will be slightly more labor intensive.”
When it came to flooring, Joe and Elina chose a random-width, hickory, rustic-style wood flooring for the public living areas of the house and opted for slate floor tile in the kitchen and deep pile carpeting in the bedrooms.
Joe credits Elina with the uncluttered and comfortable décor in the house. Deep sofas and arm chairs are covered in soft fabrics that don’t show stains. Everything is designed so that everyone can just relax, read, play games, watch TV, or just gaze out the window onto the water.
Now, instead of traveling at least a half day to coastal Florida for occasional family vacations, they can spend a little more than an hour getting to their waterfront log home with its dock, boat, and swimming area. Joe says, “A further plus is that we don’t drag sand into the house and we can be here almost any time we want.” Why, we wonder, would he even consider leaving?