Nestled in the back of a Harrison cul de sac, the home of Matt and Jena Burgin has the charm of a storybook cottage outside and the rustic design of a lodge inside.
That's why his construction crew dubbed it "the lottage," says Matt.
Matt, 29, owner of Burgin Homebuilders, and Jena, 26, a senior in physical education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, have built their dream home combining classic craftsman style with the rusticity of a mountain retreat.
"I wanted it to feel like you're stepping back in time, but you're on vacation, too," explains Matt.
The Burgins' broad use of natural materials enhances the ambiance as well as helping the house blend into the 2-acre wooded lot on which it sits. The cottage effect, however, is deceiving because inside the 10-room home there is a little more than 5,000 square feet, with 2,800 finished.
"It's a creative house with lots of individualized, unusual features," says Jeanne Abbott, a family friend. "Matt is well-versed in the history of that area, and the plan and style of the house suits the land and history behind it."
Matt says at least 70 percent of the natural
materials used in their home, which they spent seven months building before moving in during August, are local.
"I got a lot of my wood from a sawmill in Dalton, Ga., W.D. Cline and Sons Lumber -- all the wood for my cabinets, shutters, hardwood flooring and exposed beams," he says.
And what he didn't buy, Mother Nature supplied following the 2012 spring tornado that swept across Harrison and Ooltewah.
"After the storm, I was driving around and saw a cedar tree down on a cattle farm off Mahan Gap Road," Matt recalls. "I've always loved cedar trees. The owner said I could have it as long as I cleaned up after myself."
From that tree, he cut two chunky, rough-textured posts to support the home's front porch. Raw protrusions mark where limbs have been cut away, with two limbs left to form an arch over the entryway. The look is so unique, passers-by have stopped their cars, gotten out and taken photos.
The arch theme is continued in nine windows spaced across the front of the home, which coordinate with arched, pegged shutters handmade by Matt from alder. Curved eaves add to the cottage effect, with the outermost wood curved the full length of the home's side.
At the rear of the house, a deck laid in a houndstooth pattern spans the width of the home. Matt designed the deck's truss roof, which features Southern yellow pine beneath the eaves.
Above the deck, a second-floor balcony opens off the couple's home office. Its rustic railing is made from limbs cut off that same cedar tree used on the front porch.
The main floor is centered by a large, open great room with an angled, granite-topped counter dividing den from kitchen-dining areas. The focal point of this room is a massive, 26-foot-tall, mountain-stone fireplace that Matt designed and built with his crew. It's the visible half of a double fireplace -- the second located in the unfinished basement -- for a total of 51 feet of fireplace.
"The fireplace body is made of creek rock and concrete," Matt explains. "The creek rock serves as a firebrick to keep it cool. There is 20 yards of concrete, 2 or 3 tons of creek rock, and 5 or 6 tons of fieldstone in it.
"We carried a lot of buckets of concrete in for this."
A 5-foot wide, 13-inch deep mantel, also cut from the recycled cedar tree, is its finishing touch.
A pegged staircase leads up from the entry foyer to a second-floor walkway that encircles the great room. Its 8-by-12 pine beams, trimmed in black walnut baseboards, are the supports for the second floor.
"This is a true timber-framed house because the beams in the great room are load-bearing. This is what holds the whole house together," explains Matt as he points to the exposed pine tongue-and-groove design beneath the overhead walkway. "The ceiling of the first floor is the floor of the second level."
All these natural materials are brightened by the warm colors Jena says she prefers. More than 2,000 feet of a rich, red-oak flooring runs throughout the entire home. She chose turmeric gold for the living area, while it took nine coats of a deep Moroccan spice red to get the look she wanted for the walls of the dining space.
Despite the airy floor plan, 10-foot ceilings in the bedrooms and windows left open to the view of Harrison Bay, Matt says he heats and cools 3,500 square feet (living spaces and attics) for about $150 a month.
"The insulation we used is pretty cool. It's a new product that is fiberglass mixed with glue, blown right into the framing and it sticks. It has a higher R-value, and it's cost efficient."
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Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...