Merrill Cabin

Square Feet


Getting the extended family together in comfort. The completion of a perfect retirement property. That’s what this unique and completely personalized guest cabin is all about.

Project & Client Story

After careers as physician and teacher in Florida, Kent & Midge Merrill retired to a beautiful 21 acre farm with spectacular mountain views in East Tennessee. In the process of remodeling the existing home to fit their needs, they realized that having the whole family together (6 adults and 7 kids) for reunions and holidays just wasn’t going to be comfortable in the existing home.

After processing a lot of ideas, they settled upon a guesthouse and were determined that it should look like it had been there a couple of hundred years… looking out over a vista that hadn’t changed much in those years. So, in Kent’s words “after considerable research, we chose Hearthstone, Inc., based out of Dandridge, TN”. The log system they chose is an exacting reproduction of the style prevalent in the area over the centuries: logs hewn flat on the sides, natural contours top and bottom, dovetail corners, and chinking between the logs. To that, Hearthstone added its Weather-Aged finish of specialized sandblasting to make the home look hundreds of years old. A lot of personal service from Hearthstone’s veteran project manager, Doug Tatham, didn’t hurt matters either.

The Merrills settled on a classic design that — when everyone came to visit at the same time — had the kids in sleeping bags in the loft and the parents would sleep in a first floor bedroom and in the great room. Cozy, when the whole family was in town, but still within a reasonable budget, and perfect for comfort, and fun for the family get-togethers.

Kent Merrill is an advanced woodworker, and his talents cover the cabin with personal details almost too numerous to list. Some of them: plank flooring from scratch, complete with hand cut nails; wormy chestnut interior walls (reclaimed after much scraping of Virginia creeper and poison ivy); individually designed and hand crafted doors (including ingenious latches); specialized interior surface treatments to mimic age-old and worn boards and timbers; hand-made cabinets.

They named the guesthouse The Cataloochee Cabin, for it’s dramatic views of the seemingly endless Unaka Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. In the Cherokee language, Cataloochee means “wave after wave”… and that’s certainly the view off the front porch.

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This guest house was built using logs from our Bob Timberlake Log Home Collection. The home was featured as a Log Home Diary in 3 consecutive issues of Log Home Design magazine beginnning with the June 2008 issue. 

Kent and Midge have special memories of staying at ‘The Swag’ (A North Carolina inn that is well-known for it’s “Natural Elegance”). They took many inspirations from their visits there and used many recycled materials for the interior of the cabin. In turn, the materials used create many ‘stories’ to tell. One example is the Chestnut barn wood that was retrieved from a barn in the area that was being torn down. Kent scraped the vines from the boards and applied finish to all the surfaces. During the cleaning of the boards, he found where someone had carved their name of “Alvin” and the date of “1935” into one of the boards. Kent proudly used the board as paneling on an interior wall, for all to see.

Washington County – Merrill Timberlake Log Home – Jonesborough, TN