A Lakeside Log Retreat
Published: April 16, 2010
May the Bluebird of Happiness Fly Down your Chimney.
In the beginning, the Griers’ relationship with their cabin was of the long distance variety. They designed the retreat they call “Malinka Montreux” from Russia – site unseen – with the help of family, friends, and Estemerwalt Log Homes.
Photo by Estemerwalt Log Homes
It’s not your traditional cabin blessing, perhaps. But then, one glance inside this Pennsylvania log home tells you that its owners are anything but traditional.
Scranton natives and high school sweethearts Michael and Sara Grier have relocated far and wide over the years for Michael’s job. So when a site on Lake Shickshinny outside Scranton came on the market, they leapt at the chance for some R & R with family and friends.
The 30-something couple’s tastes run to contemporary. But the Griers scrapped their initial design for a concrete, steel and glass structure, realizing it “wouldn’t fly” in a rural community. On the recommendation of a family member, they turned to Estemerwalt Log Homes of Honesdale, Pa.
The project was completed about two years later, in time to host Thanksgiving dinner for relatives on both Michael and Sara’s sides.
The 3,600-square-foot cabin is constructed of 12-inch full-round eastern white pine. Ends are saddle-notched, with a double tongue-and-groove system of joinery on top and bottom to ensure the logs fit together like puzzle pieces.
Contemporary & Open
But this is not your father’s log cabin, by any means. Stainless steel ductwork is exposed throughout, creating that industrial loft look the Griers love.
The industrial touches extend to the kitchen where you’ll find a steel walk-in cooler instead of a fridge. Four types of beer are kept on tap, including Guinness. (For the record: Sara favors India pale ales; Michael is partial to wheat beers.)
Pendant lights strung through warehouse-style Romex cabling hang from rafters beneath a 20-foot high peaked ceiling.
An open plan design lends itself to entertaining. And the layout also gives the couple’s three pets – Bobik the Belgian malinois, Emma Rae the bloodhound, and Rommel the cat – license to run. Rustic pine flooring (milled by Estemerwalt) withstands foot- and paw-traffic. “It’s easy to sand or replace,” notes Michael.
An 8-foot wide central stairwell divides the second-floor living area in half. The staircase has black steel stringers and rebar spindles – “one of the most commented-on features in the cabin,” says Sara. On one side is the great room with pool table, dining area and kitchen.
The other half of the upper level is a master suite, with traditional Finnish sauna and a hot tub that opens onto the deck through sliding doors. Downstairs are guest rooms, a home theatre, gym and garage.
Michael and Sara Grier are fond of Montreux, Switzerland. Colorful posters of the town’s annual jazz festival adorn the Griers’ Pennsylanvia’s lakehome.
Photo by Estemerwalt Log Homes
The couple’s tastes in both ale and architecture were honed during a recent four-year stint in Moscow. Based a few blocks from the Kremlin, the Griers traveled extensively throughout Europe. Thus far, they’ve notched up about 35 countries.
A favorite haunt was Montreux, a small town in Switzerland on the shore of Lake Geneva. Colorful posters of the annual Montreux Jazz Festival hang on either side of their log home’s staircase, displayed to full advantage against black walls.
The cabin’s name, “Malinka Montreux” (“malinka” means “little” in Russian), reflects the influence of Montreux on the couple’s lifestyle. “Montreux is about water, relaxation, sun, beautiful scenery, good food and drink, and an eclectic and very diverse crowd,” says Michael.
It’s an atmosphere Michael and Sara cultivate on their 1½-acre property. In summer, when the Griers and guests are not sunbathing on the shore, they’re on – or in – the water. Skimming across the lake in a 1973 Duckbuster speedboat, swimming, fishing or just tooling around in the rowboat are favorite activities. At night, the gang gathers around the dockside fire pit for animated conversation.
Crisp air and colorful foliage on the hilly backdrop make fall the perfect season for hikes with the dogs.
In winter, the Griers explore the area on cross-country skis they brought back from Russia.
So what about that happy bluebird, you ask? Well, the first spring the cabin was completed, not one, not two, but four bluebirds decided to drop in for a dust bath in the woodstove. Under the watchful eye of Rommel and Bobik, Sara gently scooped up the fledglings in her hands and carried them outside to fly away.
The happiness, we’re glad to report, remains.
After seeing the Grier’s jazz posters, Fran Sigurdsson is marking her calendar for the annual Lake George Jazz Festival in New York’s Adirondacks on September 18-19, 2010.
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