I wanted some elbow room,” said Chuck Howlett when he and his wife, Linda, were looking for a property at the lake. He got it with 5 wooded acres perched along the Blackwater River in Union Hall, with nary a neighbor in sight.
While the Howletts have their share of woodsy decor throughout the home, they are worldly by any standard. They met at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and have had duty stations working for the U.S. government in Europe, the Middle East and Australia, so their home has an assortment of items from their years overseas.
“Since we had to relocate every 2 to 4 years because of work, we dreamed of finally settling in a log home in the mountains or on a lake,” Linda said.
At Smith Mountain Lake, they got both. In addition to hunting and fishing that Chuck and their two grown sons enjoy, his new hobby is beekeeping. Their hives are at the edge of the front yard’s tree line.
The home’s primary construction is of D-shaped white pine logs, and there’s wood everywhere — on the walls, doors and ceilings. “There’s not a bit of drywall in this house,” Chuck said. The floors are engineered hardwood, which looks like wood but is made to resist scratch marks of their German shepherd, Oakley.
The front porch, which also wraps around the side to provide a covered breezeway between the house and the detached garage, invites visitors to come sit a spell and enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding woods. Entering the home, one notices the openness of the living area with the kitchen, dining areas and living room all flowing together and brightly lit by windows and doors leading to the full-length deck. Dark-stained, overhead living room beams show off against a lighter pine ceiling.
The kitchen’s stone-fronted peninsula is a unique accent, and tobacco-colored cabinets provide a nice contrast to the pine walls. Prominently displayed in the living room are two mounted bucks, along with a wood duck, that Chuck shot. Continuing the rustic theme, the nearby powder room has a mirror decorated with bears. On the living room sofa, an animal hide is revealed by its long, wide tail to be a kangaroo.
The international flair continues with a German grandfather clock, a curio cabinet with a collection of timbered houses also from Germany, a dining table and hutch from Holland and all but one of the rugs are from Afghanistan.
The lakeside master suite, also on the main floor, is decorated with collectibles, including a wedding chest from
Germany and a chest from India.
On the home’s lower level there’s a family room, a guest suite and an office that doubles as a guest bedroom with a sofa bed. The wildlife decor continues with bears on lamps, a bedspread, switch plates and a game table, plus another buck mounted on the family room wall.
The bathroom has a copper sink in a vanity cabinet and there’s another copper sink mounted on a whiskey barrel in the family room bar. The bar is surrounded by a repurposed barn wood wall that Chuck installed. A barrel coffee table and barrel end tables round out the woodsy theme.
Highlighted in the family room is memorabilia from Chuck’s 23 years of service in the Marines. Items from overseas include a large Egyptian bean pot, a camel saddle and an antique wardrobe armoire.
Outside, a large patio with a fire pit allows the Howletts to enjoy nature at its finest in a large wooded setting. Just beyond that, 71 steps lead to the lake, which soon will be reduced to just 17 after a cart path is installed.