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A Warm and Inviting Lakeside Cottage

Blessings multiply at an Ohio vacation home.

Written by Janice Brewster

Photo: Kris Miller, Courtesy Oakbridge Timber Framing


Sue and Gary Potts didn’t have to look far to find the perfect spot for their waterfront getaway. They already owned a home on Ohio’s Apple Valley Lake when the empty lot next door went up for sale. “We originally bought it so that no one else would build on it,” Sue recalls.

The couple enjoyed their retreat, inviting family and friends over for weekends; but as their guest list grew, they had to find creative ways to house the out-of-towners, with less-than-ideal solutions like setting up a pop-up camper on the vacant property where the kids would bunk. 

It didn’t take long for Sue and Gary to realize they’d outgrown the small cottage. When estimates to renovate and enlarge it came in with hefty price tags, they began eyeing their empty lot next door.  

By building a new place, the couple had the opportunity to realize a dream. “Gary really wanted a log cabin in the woods,” Sue recalls. Their family had enjoyed vacationing in log cabins before, but Sue wasn’t completely sold on having a log home of her own. Nevertheless, Gary convinced her to attend a log home show in Columbus.

At the show, they discovered OakBridge Timber Framing Ltd. of nearby Loudonville, Ohio. They were intrigued by the ability to combine the warmth and beauty of an exposed wood structure with classic New England cottage style. OakBridge owner, Johnny Miller, invited Gary and Sue to tour the company’s workshop, and by the end of that tour, they were ready to design and build a timber frame home.

OakBridge’s designer worked hard to make the couple’s dream a reality on their narrow, sloping site. “We went almost to the inch for the width of the setbacks,” Johnny recalls. “We start a design based on the wish list, but the site always has tremendous impact.”

The slope allowed for a walk-out lower level that would provide easy access to the shore, but that wasn’t the only spot in the house that had to have a waterfront connection. Sue’s main must-have for the home was a kitchen with a view. “I wanted the kitchen to look out onto the lake and have a lot of light,” she says. The plan took full advantage of the location. “The dining room, great room and master suite — all three have expansive, unobstructed windows with exceptional views to the lake,” Johnny explains.

The Potts clan is a close-knit family that loves to hang out on weekends. So with family togetherness in mind, the open-concept design would be defined by a timber frame handcrafted from locally sourced white oak. The plan called for vaulted ceilings with timber trusses in the great room and master bedroom. Timber beams would line the ceiling in the lower level and trusses would accent the porch and deck. 

Once the design was finalized and the foundation prepared, OakBridge raised the frame and installed structural insulated panels (SIPs) to enclose it. Some utilitarian spaces of the home, like the master closet, laundry and mudroom, do not contain structural timber framing but still utilize SIP technology for their exterior walls. 

The finished home is the perfect place to gather friends and family for summer weekends, holidays and Ohio State football games. Sue and Gary’s master suite is located on the first floor, two bedrooms share a bath in the loft and three more bedrooms in the lower level, all of which provide plenty of overnight guest accommodations. “We wanted the home to be exceptionally comfortable. The new place is a huge upgrade from the older cottage, where guests slept on a multitude of air mattresses,” Sue says with a laugh.

Gary and Sue worked with KP Designs & Associates in Columbus to give the main floor a neutral, coastal vibe that contrasts with their primary home. “Our other house is decorated in jewel tones, and I didn’t want to have two of the same,” Sue explains. 

For meals, guests find a seat at one of the two outdoor tables or the large dining table inside. The open living area around the kitchen is where people tend to hang out. “Gathering for breakfast there — it’s one of our happiest places,” Sue says with a sigh. The timber framing adds to the atmosphere. “It’s so warm and inviting,” she says. “I love the smell of the wood.” 

OakBridge asked Gary and Sue if they would like a special carving on a beam. After much discussion as a family, they chose the beam above the kitchen island and the phrase: “Bless all who gather here.” 

“We do want this house to bless people,” Sue says, “and it has.”


Home Details

Square Footage: 4,745

Interior Designer: KP Designs & Associates

Timber Provider: OakBridge Timber Framing Ltd.


See also: Design Considerations for a Waterfront Home

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