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A Family-Friendly Retreat: A Reclaimed Timber Home in North Carolina

Two Florida attorneys create a getaway to share with others using reclaimed timbers from the survivor of a 1779 tragedy.

Photography by Joe Hilliard

Story by Billy Fox


From the moment guests arrive at Bill and Kristen Krizner’s timber-frame home, hidden in the Smoky Mountains near Cashiers, North Carolina, they encounter evidence that this is a special place. A column announcing arrival at “The Retreat,” as the owners call it, sits at the head of the driveway. Once inside, guests find Biblical quotations etched throughout the home, including the foyer, where weary sojourners are welcomed with a passage from Matthew, and the master bedroom, where the couple inscribed their favorite passages. The names of four Biblical retreats are also etched on the porch. 

The Krizners’ faith was central to their dream for a second home. As members of a local Methodist church, Bill and Kristen not only host Bible studies at their home but open it for use by the church’s pastors, as well as missionaries and friends, with nine different families having enjoyed the home this past year alone. “If we were going to spend a lot of money to build a vacation retreat, we wanted to share its spoils with our loved ones,” Bill states. To accommodate everyone, expansive shared spaces were a must.

“The key was creating as many large gathering areas as we could,” Bill explains, noting the inclusion of a large kitchen, a big table for dining, five bedrooms, an outdoor fire pit with five large benches around it, and pathways to explore as just a few of the features that accomplish this goal. Also included: a 22-by-30-foot combination foyer and great room with a 21-foot cathedral ceiling; a covered porch with a fireplace to allow guests to congregate year-round; and a children’s bunk room recreating the mood of summer camp, with wood paneling, three bunk beds and three adjoining sinks with gooseneck faucets. 

The Krizners found builder Ben Harris of Summit Building and Development by asking around in the Cashiers community. The builder worked closely with the couple and a local draftsman to create an original plan that embodied the Krizners’ faith. “Bill and Kristen are very open about their spirituality,” he states, “and it seemed natural for the home to be a reflection of who they are.”

The original inspiration was for a log house, but it soon evolved into plans for a timber-frame structure to better complement the home’s Smoky Mountain surroundings. Most timbers came from a 1765 Carlyle, Pennsylvania, home that survived an infamous 1779 mudslide wiping out much of the town. Although primarily decorative, the builder explains that some of the posts and beams do participate in the structure. Timbers in the kitchen and dining room are oak and feature mortise-and-tenon joinery in the ceiling; the great room comprises pine, poplar and oak timbers, with scribed posts, beams and trusses overhead. Arkansas yellow pine floors — milled with saw marks to harmonize with the antique reclaimed timbers — and white-pine ceiling panels complement the structural timbers.

The Krizners acknowledge that building with such well-worn timbers is a good sign that their home will also enjoy a long, secure life for many generations to come. Just as these original timbers managed to survive a natural catastrophe and the more general ravages of time, The Retreat promises to enjoy a long life as a sanctuary for the Krizners and their extended family.


Home Details

Square footage: 4,200

Builder: Summit Building and Development LLC

Timber Provider: J.C. Woodworking

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