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Randy Giles grew up in Pennsylvania, and after four years at Purdue University on the plains of Indiana, he hankered to return to gentle tree-covered mountains. 


In the early 1980’s, Giles came across 80 acres of land overlooking Douglas Lake in Dandridge,Tennessee. Saving the prime building spot for his future dream house, Giles constructed his three-story,1,200-square-foot charming log cabin on an 18×24 footprint on the cusp of where the land dropped off in a steep descent to the lake. 


“It was an exercise in trying to build small and live small,” says Giles, owner of Hearthstone Homes. “That was important to me. I wanted to say, ‘Yes, I can build a livable cabin that is this small.’”

For fifteen years the Giles family and all four children lived comfortably in their quaint little cabin. Giles and his wife, Toni, had a room and bathroom on the floor, and the children shared a room and bathroom on the lower level. Large windows allow sunshine to brighten the cabin. 


The children spent their days exploring the woods and swimming in the lake. “I don’t know whether living in a log house makes you feel outdoorsy or whether people who enjoy the outdoors are drawn to cabin living,” Giles says. “The kids weren’t intent on sleeping in a bed every night.” 


What Giles sacrificed in space, he made up for in quality of materials using antique heart pine liberally throughout the interior of the cabin.“Living small gave us the opportunity for luxuries we couldn’t have afforded otherwise,” he says. 


Inspired by historical connections, Giles aimed to design a cabin that looked as if it has been on the site for 150 years and his value of authentic design prevails throughout the home. 

The 6 foot back porch accommodated a large dining table, a panoramic lake view, and a spectacular sunset. Here the family would often share meals outdoors.

Inside, Giles challenged himself by installing modular fireplace with an indoor chimney that served as a masonry radiator in the middle of the living room. 


The cabin’s efficient design enabled a lot of living in a small package.“The small cabin worked amazingly well for an amazingly long time,” he says. Looking back, Giles is satisfied that his exercise in living small succeeded.

This outdoorsy Tennessee home – designed to look like it was built in the 1850s – might be a cozy cabin, but it lives large.

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