Sunday, October 28, 2007

The House - Background

The location was a ridge just above the old Maple Springs Schoolhouse. The school is now long-gone without a trace left behind except for its fine road and excellent roadbed. The house was built by two educators from Miami, Florida in 1976. They were both of German descent and their names were Klaus and Gloria. It was originally an A-Frame with a large, partial wrap-around deck. The master bedroom was on the top floor and two bedrooms and another bath were below.

The house looks out to the mountain ranges and has a nice view of the Cowee Mountains. It was their retreat, a place to spend their summers and make daring visits in the winer. Here they practiced their avocations of stained-glass art and writing, while also pursuing their passion of gardening.

They decided to retire here and added a new dining room, a kitchen and a large bathroom. One of the lower bedrooms now became the new master bedroom. Their old kitchen became a spacious walk-in closet, also part of the new master bedrom. Underneath the new dining room they added a space they called the “root cellar” and which we call the “storage area”. Nonetheless, it excells at storing lawnmowers, weedeaters, mulchers, and all kinds of other things such as bags of Quickcrete, mulch, potting soil, rakes and shovels, and a whole lot more.

My wife and I bought the house in 1994 from Klaus and Gloria who moved to take care of an elderly parent. Much of the landscaping, flowers, grapevines, etc., on the property were placed there by them. We had asked them if they used chemical fertilzer or pesticides and were told an emphatic “NO”. The garden, and the entire property was completely organic. Good. We were organic gardeners too.

In 2002, we added the room we call the Family Room. We had always noticed that the most attractive part of the property was the area just east of the kitchen. We always loved to linger there. In the summer, the place was cool and breezy. In the winter, warm sunlight seemed to fall there all day long. Our dogs and our cat congregated there, and the birds loved the place. And that is where we built the Family Room. At the same time we extended the dining room northward about seven feet. Our contractor for this construction was Michael Manos, a former contractor who was pursuing his dream of becoming established as an artist. He was assisted in the construction of our room by an emergency room physician who wanted to become proficient working for Habitat for Humanity. So the room was built by an artist and a doctor.

When we designed the Family Room, we used information from architect Christopher Alexander. He is an Austrian who was educated in Austria, then received degrees from Cambridge in England and Harvard in the United States. He taught at Berkley for almost 40 years. He designed the campus of the University of Oregon, and is himself a student of great structures throughout Europe and Asia.

One of his books is the “Timeless Art of Building”, (which we have) but his most influential work is one he authored along with others and it is called “The Pattern Language” (which we also have) in which he explains how people over many centuries have designed and constructed communities, buildings, rooms, and other areas in ways that make them “come alive”. We had asked the previous owners if they had known about Alexander and they said they were familiar with him and had used some of his concepts in the addition they had made to the original construction.

We incorporated some of Alexander’s suggestions into our new Family Room: Light from two sides, Filtered light, Pools of light, The fire, South-facing outdoors, Floor surface, Six foot balcony, Half-private office, Indoor sunlight, Short passages, and there are others patterns either incorporated into the new construction or already present in the house.

A visit to our Family Room is a experience to remember. When people enter our Great Room, a lot of them have said “Wow!” and when they come into the dining room, they say "Oh look at the mountains!", and they smile when they see the kitchen. But when they enter into the Family Room, most just stand still, silently absorbing old familiar feelings they have not experienced for many years.

You walk out on the deck on a summer night and there are no lights to be seen anywhere.  Only the great night sky with its ever changing display of celestial lights and the warm glow of house lights on the deck.   Winter nights are different.  It seems as if there are as many stars shining below the horizon as above it.  Thousands of lights dot the landscape.  Scary?  Not with three large dogs who mainly sleep in the basement or on the deck, and there are six bright lights that will come on in sequence if anyone comes onto our property.

We've added a small trail that winds around the house. It is all on our property. No asphalt here, in fact it is a real mountain woodland trail. The first time you hike it I would recommend you take a staff and wear hiking boots. I have made a number of my photogaphs, some of exhibition quality, on this trail. Actually there are several interacting trails so there is always something new out there. Many wildflowers have been planted along the trail and it winds past more than 20 species of trees. In the summer you can walk out of sight of the house. The great naturalist, Marie Mellinger came here several times. Once she did an inventory of all the plants on our property. I still have that three-page document and will gladly pass it on. Springtime and autumn walks out of our trail are amazing slideshows that sometimes seem to change hour by hour. And the greatest walk of them all? I like the winter nights. It's best after snow has fallen. Then when the full moon rises, the world changes completely when you're out there. I take my dogs with me, or they take me. They're different then and so am I. It's nice. I will always remember that.

Sounds like I am in love with the place, doesn't it? I guess I am. Why leave then? Well, life moves on. Family ties beckon. New grandchildren need care that mere parents can't possibly give them – because they have to be parents. Besides, the new place will probably be a wonderland too. I am looking forward to what it will bring us. But we leave a very special place, and I want to leave it to someone who is special too.

The Great Room

The entry into the house is through the foyer. This presents a view down past the dining and kitchen areas.

If you look from the foyer to the left, you will see your first view of the Great Room with its fireplace, high ceiling and wall of windows.

Looking back toward the foyer from inside the Great Room, you can see the stairs which lead to the loft above and a private master bedroom (two of the three bedrooms in the house are 'master bedrooms') which is behind the loft. On the right of the picture frame you see some books in the library which comprise part of an entertainment center.

The entertainment center is placed against the wall with TV, Dish receiver, TV recorders, stereo system, DVD players, etc. There are also display opportunities in the shelves and on top of the bookcases. The drawers contain games, DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs, etc. We plan to leave all four parts of the center with the house. (While taking the books, and electronics with us!)

To the right of the entertainment center is the fireplace. This structure not only provides winter heat through its LP gas log system, but it also provides year-round beauty for this part of the house.

This picture shows the fireplace warming the house with the heat-retention blinds lowered.

The fireplace has a mantle which joins the bookcases to a small display shelf which runs across the part of the room which opens to the main deck.

The ceiling here is about sixteen feet, seven inches above the floor and three, thirteen-foot high beams hold two ceiling fans which provide adequate ventilation for this space and prevent air stratification.

The part of the Great Room that faces the deck is a Wall of Windows, including two french doors which are usually open almost all day long during the summer as well as much of the late spring and autumn. That serves to bring the main deck and the Great Room together as one magnificant living area.

Here is a view on a nice autumn day with the french doors open, showing how easy it would be to go out on the beautiful deck and sweep the fallen leaves preparing them for the compost!

Looking away from the bookcases leads one's view down a short hallway past the dining and kitchen areas to the right, and on into the Family Room.

The Family Room

When you enter into the Family Room you know you have arrived in a very special place. First you might notice the ceramic tile floor, the eight large windows, the french doors and the always interesting and constantly changing view from this mountain forest ridge.

Another look will reveal the Empire LP gas log stove which is thermostatically controlled, the two large ceiling fans and the lighting which is specially arranged for close detail work or casual romantic ambience.

Continuing around the room to the left you can see that we have an office space strategically placed in the center of one of the most beautiful offices in the world. It is on the north side of the room which has only two large windows

Now, moving away from our last position toward the french doors, and looking further to the left you can see another window which helps keep an eye on the main deck, and we have a treadmill tucked into the corner beneath the window next to the stairs which lead back up to the kitchen and dining areas and on into the Great Room.

Looking further around to the left reveals a glimpse of the full bath, then the four large windows which are arranged on the southwest side of the Family Room. They look out over the private driveway and into the forest beyond. You may notice plant grow lamps placed on the wall. Why are they there? To provide light for our indoor plants in the summer.

In the summer, this room is in the shade of the trees, and being on a ridge, a breeze from the south or west usually passes through this room on up the stairs into the rest of the house. In the winter, the first rays of the rising sun enter this room, and the sunlight streams through the then bare oak tree limbs onto the ceramic tile floor all day long. When the sun sets, you will notice the room cooling down. That’s when we lower the heat-retention blinds and set the thermostat on our Empire stove for a wonderful winter evening.

In the springtime and autumn, you see a world of wonder from this room. These pictures show part of the autumn, but the springtime is even better.

And our french doors are usually open to the “poop” deck when the weather is nice, which is often. Our dogs love this deck. It is their “crow’s nest” from which they keep an eager eye out for whomever might be coming up our private driveway. From here they can see down the western part of our ridge some 70 feet below the house.


This is probably OUR favorite room in the house because we both like to cook. Wonderful smells (and meals) come from here all winter long. Then our menues are hearty with stews, soups, bread, casseroles and even cookies.

Notice that the kitchen features ceramic tile for the floors, countertops, backsplash and ALL kitchen walls. It is a ceramic-tile kitchen!

The cabinets are made of selected oak and were custom built by Joe Morgan, Cabinet Maker in Franklin for more than 30 years.

Storage space provides access through 30 doors and 10 sliding drawers.

Three of the storage units feature rotating lazy-susan shelves for storage of cooking utensils, serving vesels and containers for use in refrigerator and freezer.

In the summer we eat a lot of pasta with goodies right out of our own garden. Herbs are right outside in containers on the uncovered part of our deck.

Pantry is floor-to-ceiling and has 7 shelves, 5 of which slide out for complete and easy access.

Appliance "garage" also has four electric receptacles inside.

Four stained glass lighted fixtures commemorate the seasons

Three windows are in the kitchen area, two over sink. They provide bright sunlight throughout the winter, and all three open full length to admit cool mountain breezes in the summer.



Windows on two sides, the south and the west. Lovely light filters in throughout the day, moonlight is available, on some nights, if you wish. There is a bathroom with walk in shower large enough not to even need a curtain. The closet is walk-in, sure, and you can dress in there if you wish to also. My wife has a desk with a small office in the bedroom too.

Another master bedroom! Even larger than the one below. There is a full bath with tub and shower fixtures, and two closets, actually that closet is about 15 feet long with two doors. There is another closet too, it is about 7 X 7 feet. Four windows admit sunlight from the southern sky, at least in the winter. Otherwise you look out of here into the treetops. A door separates this bedroom from the loft beyond. Currently this bedroom is being used as my study. Here I write and do photos and video. When we have guests, some of them sleep up here from time to time.


Three windows on the south side of the house. Large closet. Full bathroom is inches from the door.

Not really a bedroom but we have used it as such. Its "sofa" is a fouton which lets down into a bed. The room does not have a closet, but does have a full bath with tub with shower. Lots of light - in the winter. Close to the kitchen. Sometimes my wife and I sleep out there and let guests with small children have our master bedroom. We have some friends from Florida who visit each summer and they drag their bags out there and sleep there, usualy with all the windows and doors open (they're country folk). Are they safe? You bet. Can't they be seen walking around with the windows open? Not unless the persons doing the "seeing" are trespassing on our property.

Winter Days

Winters come to the southern mountains in lots of different days. It brings sunny, warm breezes, and dark drizzles. Some days even bring snow.

Trail at Stamey Mountain Road House

The trail is all on the property owned with the house.  

The driveway is the blue line on the map, leading up to the house.

The trails run north and south mainly and some of the trees are marked.  

There is a pet graveyard marked with crosses.  Zach, Cherokee, Raqib, Sunflower and Scooter are buried here.  Wali died after we moved to Hickory and his ashes were scattered over the area. The graves are marked by large rocks.

Details of House

Size: Approximately 2400 heated square feet,
plus 1,000 sqft basement and 400 sqft storage area.
3 BEDROOMS, 4 full baths, plus 500 sqft bonus room.

Lot: 1.94 acres
Mountain views all year
Located on private driveway
Central heat and air, plus LP
gas logs in living room fireplace
& LP gas log Empire stove in family room
Water from private well - drilled 210 feet deep
Asheville is 1:15 away, Downtown Atlanta is 2:00.

Appalachian Trail 10 miles and 15 minutes from house
Private location, yet downtown Franklin is 10 minutes away.
Its two acres seem like many more because of location on a ridge.

Family room exposed to sun all winter, totally shaded all summer.
Fully organic garden with raised, double-dug beds. Compost also.
Great Smoky Mountain Nat Park AND Blue Ridge Parkway are 40 min. away
Kitchen features custom built oak cabinets, ceramic tile floor, countertops and walls.
Family room for dance floor, card games, classes, home office, etc.
Covered part of deck insures outside eating during summer sprinkles.
Uncovered part of deck provides safe container-gardening area.
Alternate energy potential from both solar and wind power.

French doors make deck a part of living room in summer
Second parking lot (undeveloped) beside family room.
Woodland trail encircles house – all on property.
A peaceful place with very little grass to mow
Flooding risk is negligible