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A “Timber Tudor” With Storybook Style

A northern couple heads south to build a Tudor-style timber home with enough charm to transport you far, far away.

Written by Suzanna Logan
Photography by Roger Wade
 
Building a custom home is a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking for most. For others — namely, Bill and Ingrid Hansel — it’s par for the course. Over the better part of the past 50 years, the couple has built not one, two, or three but four homes, across several states and in completely distinct styles.
 
“The first one was a redwood contemporary in New Jersey,” recalls Ingrid. “Then, it was a shingle style with high ceilings and big windows, and then a traditional Cape Cod ranch on the Cape in Massachusetts.”
 
Though the couple loved that ocean-side residence, they were ready to leave the blustery shores behind for warmer climes. They zoned in on the South, but narrowed their search to locations that still offered a change of seasons — “that ruled out Florida,” Ingrid explains. Their hunt for the ideal weather led them to the cliff-top town of Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where temperatures register 10 degrees cooler than in the city below.
 
Here, with the help of Riverbend Timber Framing, the couple took on their latest building endeavor and what may be their finest accomplishment yet: a picture-perfect timber hybrid situated on an equally picturesque plot of land. Though the property is just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Hansels’ home, with its simple, storybook charm, feels as if it’s in a land far, far away.
 
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Strolling through the perfectly manicured grounds is like stepping into the pages of a classic fairy tale. A delicate bridge arches over a rippling brook. Nearby, a pristine waterfall cascades down a rock formation, while a heron breaks the smooth waters of a glassy pond.
 
To reach what the Hansels have termed their “Timber Tudor,” complete with European details, like a stepped-pitched roof, stucco walls with half-timber framing and stone details, visitors must first follow a stepping-stone path through a low-slung cottage gate to a front door ensconced by containers brimming with colorful flowers.
 
Once inside, the traditional Tudor styling carries into the interiors with an abundance of woodwork, especially in the main living areas where cathedral ceilings are accented by oak beams and traditional mortise-and-tenon joinery held in place with wooden pegs.
 
“We love the cathedral ceilings,” Bill says. “There’s a kind of a freedom, a soaring feeling, that comes with them.”
 
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The spacious feel continues throughout the first floor where French country details, including an abundance of antiques, infuse the new home with a palpable sense of history. In the living room, a French antique armoire and pair of velvet sofas anchor the space. Continuing the European flavor, a pair of elegant wall sconces hang alongside a gilded mirror above the wood-burning fireplace, while a plaid wingback chair and ottoman offer a place to take in the views though the arched, floor-to-ceiling windows.
 
Above, a loft continues the roomy vibe into the second floor, which houses a guest bedroom and bathroom, along with Ingrid’s art studio and a loft, outfitted with cozy, toile upholstered armchairs. In the lower level, windows span across the space, ushering light into the walk-out basement, which serves as a long-term guest suite thanks to the addition of a living room, dining area and kitchenette.
 
But of all the home’s inviting spaces, the couple say they most often find themselves settling onto the covered deck to take in the sights and sounds of nature. “On a clear day, we can see down the valley and to the Smoky Mountains,” says Ingrid. Bill adds: “You can watch the pond and hear the waterfall. It’s so soothing and peaceful.”
 
With all of the features to love, home number four could be the ideal forever home, but the Hansels aren’t committing to hanging up their home building cred just yet. “There’s no doubt we put a lot of heart into this home,” Bill says. “For now, the plan is to be here for quite some time.”

Home Details

Square Footage: 5,263
Bedrooms: 4     
Baths: 3
Timber Provider: Riverbend Timber Framing

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