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Friday, September 28, 2012

High on the log

John and Beth Nash's pine log house - the fifth home the couple has built - is among those on this year's SML Charity Home Tour.

Many architectural styles are represented in the homes at Smith Mountain Lake, but most tend to be spacious, sided in neutral colors and have as many windows as possible to take advantage of the spectacular views. So a house that appears to have been built from a child's Lincoln log set is a real standout.

This year, John and Beth Nash of Glade Hill have opened their log house at Admiral's Landing for the 22nd annual Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour. The tour, which takes place Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 5 to 7, features eight residences that can be reached by land or by water.

John, 68, and Beth, 65, came to Smith Mountain Lake from Rockingham County, N.C., just an hour away over the state line. They bought their lot in 2000, and the house was completed in 2004. John said he designed the home himself.

"He got a pencil and some paper, and he sketched it out," Beth said. Local builder Doug Bowman made plans from the drawings.

"It was the first log house he built," John said, and the couple is pleased with the results. Whole debarked pine logs were brought in and fitted together on site, John said. This is the fifth house the couple has built together, as John's work took them to different parts of the East Coast.

"The first one is always the toughest one," John said.

"That's why most people don't do the second one," Beth retorted.

John describes himself as the "semi-retired" owner of four McDonald's franchises that his two daughters will eventually take over. Beth is a registered nurse and also helped with the family business.

The house is not the only log home in the neighborhood, the Nashes said. There are five others, but theirs was the second one built. It's not a true log house, though, John explained. Except for the front wall, it's sided with half-logs over a frame structure - a compromise they reached when Beth insisted on having traditional drywall in most of the rooms.

Caring for a log home is not much different than for any wood-sided house, John said. "You just have to look out for the carpenter bees."

The main room is two stories high and features tall clerestory windows that offer full views of the Blackwater arm of the lake.

Despite the open spaces and the many windows, John said the home is so well insulated that it costs very little to heat and cool. There is a loft over the foyer, which contains a daybed, a desk, a couch and a table for games. The couple's two grandchildren use this room when they visit.

"They love it up here," Beth said.

A 100-year-old canoe is suspended from the loft railing by two stout ropes, adding interest to the room and providing privacy for that level. Many of the furnishings are antique - some were purchased and some handed down through family. Inside the canoe is a 150-year-old fishing creel that once belonged to John's grandfather.

"It was so much fun decorating this house," Beth said. Among the knickknacks are John's McDonald's memorabilia - including one of Ronald McDonald's shoes - that he has collected throughout his career.