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Blossoming in the Blue Ridge

For Gisele Weisman, whose log home is perched on the side of Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Range, the adventure began with an inheritance of 17 acres of land. “When I came up here to try to figure out what to do with it,” says Weisman, “I was mesmerized by the magnificent view of the St. John’s River Gorge. There was no question I had to live here.”

High-country living suits this single professional woman in her fifties who left behind an Atlanta condo and a successful career in human resources management to build her dream home at 4,000 feet. It took almost a year to complete the dramatic three-story aerie with its three stacked fieldstone fireplaces, 3-1/2 baths, and a parking deck that made the steep lot accessible.

“It’s a life change in a lot of different ways,” says Weisman. “I wanted to be up here year-round, so I had to figure out a way to make my land profitable.” She had fallen in love with the picturesque mountain town of Blowing Rock, which has a year-round population of 1,500 and approximately 8,000 summer residents. Weisman soon got into the business of buying and selling building lots and is currently in phase two of developing a neighborhood of kindred spirits. Her new neighbors are Atlantans and Floridians who are building their own custom-designed log retreats. “I’ve become this land baroness,” she adds with a laugh. “I had no idea I could do any of this. You just learn as you go.”

Weisman’s gutsiness and “learn as you go” philosophy were evident throughout the design and construction of her first log home. Although she had no prior experience with the building process, she did have a clear idea of what she wanted as well as an artistic flair. “Country’s Best Log Homes was one of the magazines I used to visualize space and figure out my log home,” says Weisman.

She began by designing a floor plan that would maximize the views of the gorge and stream from every room. Then she consulted building industry professionals. “I said, do your magic, make sure this house is sound, but this is the basic floorplan that I’m thinking of,” Weisman recalls. “Between the architect and the structural engineer, I had something solid to be built.”

When the architect asked Weisman to decide on the square-footage of the rooms because her original drawings hadn’t indicated the dimensions, she went into people’s homes and measured rooms that struck her as about the right size. “I’d say, ‘Excuse me, but do you mind if I whip out my little tape measure? Oh yes, I’ll take a glass of wine first,’” Weisman recalls with a laugh.

The main floor of the home has 1,056 square feet of living space, which encompasses a living room, dining room, kitchen, powder room and a grand master suite. The bedroom’s king-sized bed is flanked by a pair of windows while a larger window overlooks the gorge. The adjoining master bath has a luxurious corner tub that Weisman declares is majestic. Only a few of the windows have blinds to filter out the morning sunlight. Says Weisman, “We don’t need curtains out here it’s so private. We’re an island unto ourselves because the neighborhood is surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest.”

To read the rest of this article see the March 2006 issue of Country's Best Log Homes or email me