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Our Little Gatlinburg

Rustic cabin a perfect spot to call home

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is synonymous with mountain retreats and rustic cabins. Families travel several hours to spend a long weekend in the woods, relaxing in a cabin tucked into a hillside high up in the Great Smoky Mountains. The world seems to slow down the moment you walk up the porch steps and through the front door. For most people, if they are lucky enough to get away for a vacation, this happens once a year. But for Bart and Debbie Goodwin, this is everyday life.

A chance encounter

The cabin sits on 12 acres along State Route 73 in picturesque Waynesville. The couple bought the property eleven years ago. “We’ve lived in Waynesville since 1989 and had driven past the lot for years,” Debbie says. “One day, we saw the For Sale sign high up in a tree and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

They moved into the old, dilapidated house that sits along the road. Family and friends suggested they bulldoze the house, but the couple fixed it up with the intention of living in it for one year before building a new house. However, that one year turned into nine.

During those nine years, Debbie and Bart started their own business- a garden decor store called The Secret Garden. Both had been working in the corporate world for years and decided to try their hand at something different. “We took a leap of faith,” says Debbie. “We knew we had the visibility thanks to the antique shops, Caesar Creek and other activities. It’s been wonderful.”

A slight change in plans

The growing business forced them to postpone building their new home for several years, but their initial desire to build a log cabin remained intact. “We love that rustic feel of the log cabins, but then we heard about the maintenance they require. With the business, we didn’t need to add more work to our plate,” Debbie says.

Instead of a log cabin, the roughly 2,000-square-foot home features a cedar exterior with a covered front porch and a spectacular multi-tiered deck along the back of the house. The interior keeps the rustic, natural feeling alive thanks to the knotty white pine walls and ceilings and the soaring two-story stone fireplace in the living room. Windows flank the fireplace, providing unobstructed views of the woods behind the house.

The adjoining dining room features a custom-built dining set made of reclaimed wood. The table is several shades darker than the walls and hickory cabinets in the kitchen, adding dimension and visual interest to the space. “I had been looking for a table since we finished the house. We came across the company in Atlanta, Georgia. I gave them the dimensions and they whipped it up. I knew it would be perfect,” Debbie says.

The first floor master suite is located on the opposite side of the house. The bedroom’s private entrance to the deck offers breathtaking views each and every morning. The master bathroom offers its own view of the front, thanks to a large picture window above the soaking tub. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the house, you always feel that connection to nature,” Debbie says, adding that a guest bedroom and a home office located on the second floor also incorporate the same design.

Peaceful moments

For Bart and Debbie, it’s the peaceful surroundings that make this house so special. The back deck is where you get the feeling that you are somewhere else,” she says. “We’re working seven days a week, so a half hour sitting in the hot tub on the deck means the world to us.”

The original single-level deck ran along the back of the house, but Debbie and Bart felt the railing was blocking the view. To take advantage of the outdoors, they added two lower decks, one to hold the dining table and the other for the hot tub.

The new deck provides the perfect location to take in the changing seasons. Debbie says she enjoys winter the most. “Everything is white; it looks like a winter wonderland,” she says. “We’re also lucky enough to see an abundance of wildlife throughout the year: everything from deer and turkey to raccoons.

For the Goodwins, family vacations aren’t as necessary as they were at one time. Every morning Bart and Debbie wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee on the deck or in the living room and then make the short commute, by foot, to work. They do enjoy going on vacation—they’ve visited Cancun a few times and recently returned from a trip to Chicago. “We love going away and seeing different cities,” Debbie says. “But we love coming back, too. Every time we walk through the front door, we look around and we smile. It just feels good.”


Architect: Architectural Access; Builder: South Dayton Builders & Remodelers; Carpet: Innovative Floors & Design; Hardwood flooring: J.J. Associates, Atlanta, Georgia; Cabinetry, countertops and backsplash: Select Building Supply; Faucets: Moen; Appliances: Frigidaire Professional Series; Lighting and front door: Menards; Wallcovering and ceilings: Knotty white pine; Accessories: The Secret Garden; Hot tub: Watson’s; Fireplace: Morgan’s Patio; Snyder Brick & Block; Outdoor dining table: Apple Country Farm Market

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