Some homeowners are pining for the past and spending big on restorations of historical homes…
When Susan and Josiah Daniel learned that a log house built by Josiah’s ancestors was in serious disrepair and about to be sold, the history-loving couple swooped in and bought it themselves. With the assistance of Dallas architect Steve Chambers, the couple moved what little remained of the structure from Navarro County, Texas, to their East Texas farm 76 miles away. Here, they reconstructed the home as it had been built in 1856: a one-story, double-pen, dogtrot log house. The unexpected addition to their farm is now a treasured heirloom that the Daniels, and future generations, will enjoy for many years to come. “We never intended on having this house,” says Susan, “but we couldn’t let the logs leave the family.”
THE EXTERIOR & PORCH
Restored the logs
At Steve’s advice and throughout a yearlong process, the Daniels had the house frame disassembled and then the logs cleaned, fumigated, repaired, and transported to their farm for reassembly.
Fixed the foundation
Originally, the home sat on tree stumps, but the Daniels wisely upgraded to a new pier and beam Before: Years of neglect and a leaky roof led to extensive structural, water, and termite damage and made the home uninhabitable; only the log walls remained. BEFORE Susan and Josiah at their restored front porch foundation clad with stone. “We want the house to last 150 more years,” says Josiah. “Now, it has a solid structure to do that.”
They used Arkansas sandstone to build the steps and chimney and to face the foundation. “It looks like rock a farmer or early settler would have picked up on a field,” says Steve. “The point was to use something that didn’t look finished or manufactured or formal.”
Reconstructed the roof
Using materials from buildings dating back to the time of the original log house, Steve oversaw the construction of a new steel roof assembled with periodperfect details: mortise-and-tenon framing, wood pegs in place of nails, and old Texas barnwood.
Screened it in
One of the changes the Daniels made to the historical design was to add screens to the open sides of the breezeway. “Texas is a very buggy place,” says Susan. “They are not authentic to the original house, but they make the central porch vastly more usable.”
Tucked in the cook space
In 1856, meal prep happened outside or in a fireplace, so the home lacked a kitchen. A previous renovation constructed an oversize, oddly located kitchen. The Daniels rightsized that remodel with a discreet, 135-square-foot kitchen addition behind the living room. chos e complementary millwork Rather than try to match the 150-year-old chinked log walls, Steve finished out the kitchen with shiplap wood painted a rich neutral. Reclaimed heart-pine flooring and old barnwood ceilings echo the cabin’s old-world soul.
Brought in light
The Daniels balanced the dark wood ceiling and floors by replacing old, solid wood doors with new sets of French doors that open onto the dogtrot. Now, sunlight pours into the kitchen. li mit ed mod ern elements When possible, the Daniels disguised appliances behind cabinet fronts so as not to take away from the centuries-old architecture. A farmhouse sink, zinc countertops, and a stainless steel range are all simple enough not to detract from the home’s character.
Opted for open shelves
Rather than bulky upper cabinets, the Daniels chose wood shelves painted the same color as the cabinets to store their dinnerware. “It’s a really small room, and the shelves open up the space,” says Susan.
Went with neutrals
Warm beiges were chosen for the walls and cabinets. Crisper shades would have felt too modern in the cabin, and anything darker would have looked drab. Simplifi ed the Furnis hings To remain faithful to the lifestyle of the 1850s, Susan adopted a less-is-more mentality. All-white dishes within easy reach and an antique farm table surrounded with rustic wicker chairs decorate the kitchen. The table and chairs can shift back and forth to the dogtrot for dinner.
BEDROOM & BATH
Repeated the wall treatments
Susan kept continuity with the kitchen by repeating the shiplap walls in the bathroom and using the same paint color (Benjamin Moore’s Manchester Tan). “It is subtle and seamless and doesn’t take away from the logs,” she says. The Floor Plan Steve designed the new kitchen and bathroom additions so they are hidden off the backs of the identically sized living room and bedroom— preserving the symmetry of the cabin’s original two-room, dogtrot layout.
Decorated with antiques
Susan furthered the connection between these two spaces by selecting creamcolored furnishings and mixing antiques with reproduction pieces. In the bedroom, a white iron bed and an old, painted bedside chest play off the cast-iron claw-foot tub in the bath.
Old Belgian grain-sack pillow shams with a pop of red add textural interest to the crisp white sheeting on the bed. In the bath, tea towels with a crochet edge were fashioned into cafe curtains that add softness and block out just enough light for privacy near the bathtub.
Worked in family mementos
Susan’s grandmother made the quilt on the bed, and the towel basket in the bath was used by Susan’s family as a bassinet for her when she was an infant. “Yes,” she says with a laugh, “I used to be carried around in that basket!” A toolbox from Josiah’s father rests on the shelf above the bathroom door.
NOTICE THE DETAILS
It takes smart design to work mode rn comforts into a historic home without losing its integrity.
The large inset drawers and footed lower cabinets create a more modular, less builtin effect in the kitchen. The doublefronted cupboard draws eyes up to the ceiling and conceals pantry space and a microwave on one side and the refrigerator and freezer on the other. The extra storage below helps keep the open shelves tidy by hiding glassware, pots, and pans.
In such a small home, every piece must serve a purpose. This slightly rustic drop-front secretary provides extra storage and a writing surface when needed. The distressed sage green finish complements the white mortar between the logs, which has become an unintended, but much-loved, design element in the cabin. A pair of antique chairs and a bird print finish off this chic country vignette.
The Daniels really treat these logs like family heirlooms. “You can see the marks from the tools used to cut the logs flat,” Josiah says. “It was a lot of work done by very skillful house builders.” When the new walls went up, they had to fit them precisely into the corners because the adjacent logs were not uniform. “We had an excellent carpenter,” says Susan, “and he took the time to fit each plank as snugly as possible to the logs.”
Small cable fixtures hung from the ceiling add overhead light without compromising the architecture. “With these, you don’t have to cut into the ceiling and damage the structure,” says Steve. “And they almost disappear so you don’t even notice them.”