A lively crackle. Snap. Then more popping. As night settles in, these are the sounds you’ll hear at the home of Marshall and Kristie Pugh. Here, evenings always begin the same way: friends, family and neighbors gathered around a massive sandstone hearth in their outdoor living room. As flames dance above glowing embers, more sounds fill the air — the couple’s infamous playlists that include everything from The Eagles to Dean Martin to Southern gospel. “Our music can give you whiplash if you’re not careful,” laughs Marshall.
Jokes aside, the eclectic playlist works. And the way it combines different elements into a single experience and brings everyone together is a clue to how the couple approaches life — and how they approached the creation of their outside-the-box timber home in the quiet east Tennessee town where they both were raised.
The couple took a no-holds-barred approach to the family home, melding Marshall’s life-long love of timber frame design (rooted in his boyhood summers spent in a hunting lodge) with Kristie’s flair for bold, glamorous style. The quiet permanence of the white oak timbers provides a solid counterpoint to Kristie’s fearless taste, which runs the gamut from Victorian to modern, and is revealed in the home’s finishings, furnishings, artwork and accessories, which include everything from a hot air balloon-shaped crystal chandelier to a patchwork Moroccan rug woven from old textiles.
But it’s not just the home’s decor that’s eye-catching. From top to bottom, the interior spaces are a study in drama. Wrapped in saturated hues from navy and charcoal to jet black and chocolate brown, the walls, ceilings and trim are stand-alone works of art that take this timber home to another level.
“Going with dark paint colors everywhere in the house was a bold move for us, but I think that’s what makes everything pop,” Kristie explains. The darker hues have a secondary purpose, too. Adds Marshall: “They give the rooms a feeling of warmth, even with the large spaces and tall ceilings. You never feel like a mouse in a cathedral.”
Considering the couple’s penchant for blazing their own way, it’s no surprise stock plans didn’t apply here. Marshall drew up the home’s layout on a scratch piece of paper, then delivered his drawings to an architect friend for the finishing touches. The plan revolves around single-level living, including everything the couple needs on the 3,400-square-foot main floor, with elevator access to a 3,000-square-foot fully-finished basement complete with three bedrooms and bathrooms, a craft room, a full kitchen and living areas. On the main floor, an oversized kitchen and dining room beg for large gatherings, as does the spacious second-floor deck and lower-level stone patio, each with a fireplace, a swing and living-room-style furnishings.
Like the interior design, the outside aesthetic is anything but ordinary for the setting. “The house looks like it was plucked from the mountains of Colorado and set in the middle of Tennessee,” says builder Kelly Herman. “The coolest part of that is we used as much local product as possible, starting with the timber frame by local Homestead Timber Frames and the natural rock, which was sourced from a local quarry.”
The hybrid structure is a combination of a traditional timber frame using mortise-and-tenon joinery with wooden pegs combined with insulated concrete forms (ICFs). “The whole thing was a challenge. The timbers were hand hewn when they were wet because if you wait until white oak is dry, it’s harder to work with,” explains Kelly. “The walls had to be notched in the right places for the concrete, but because we knew there would be twisting and checking there were some challenges in all of that.”
In the end, the timbers and concrete forms came together as seamlessly as the mix of styles inside the house and the couple’s evening play-lists, providing a good reminder that taking a chance isn’t always as risky as it seems. “A lot of people come in and say, ‘I don’t know that I would have had the guts to try this,’” says Marshall. Kristie adds: “At the end of the day, if something makes your heart skip a beat, go for it.”
Square footage: 3,400 (with an additional 3,000 sq. ft. basement)
Timber provider: Homestead Timber Frames
Builder: Kelly Herman