What do you do with a piece of land that has a creek running right down the middle of it? If you are innovative and industrious, you build your house right over it.
And if you are Greg and Denise Hill, owners of Custom Fireplace Shop in Jackson Township, you add five custom fireplaces to create a warm, inviting log-style home with, yes, a creek running underneath.
The 3,000-square-foot home sits just inside the city of Green, near the Lake Township border, and while the Hills do have
neighbors, from the back deck one could imagine being far out in the woods.
after 16 years there, they still see cars sitting out on the road looking at the house built on cement pillars.
The home is one of a traditional structure, but the wood siding on the outside and log-sided walls in some of the rooms inside could fool even the most practiced eye.
Standing at the front door, one hears the serene sound of rushing water coming from directly below. The creek runs into the Tuscarawas River at Tritts Mill in Springfield Township.From the backyard, the couple can sit on their balcony and watch the stream peacefully wind through the trees.
“We do enjoy every season,” Denise said of their view that includes families of mallards that come in the spring, along with deer, muskrats, a blue heron (that eats the muskrats) and an occasional beaver.
With their new wood duck house, they are hoping to add a family of the smaller type of ducks.
“We’ve had a couple come back twice to inspect. We’re hoping they buy,” said Greg.
Green build While the Hills loved idea of a traditional log cabin look, it was the lot that dictated their style.
“The lot really made it come together,” Denise said.
She added that it was well-priced, because the previous owner didn’t know what to do with it.An outdoorsman and hunter who grew up in the construction business, Greg knew. He built the home himself, with some help from his family. The project took about 10 months, he said, and the challenge, of course, was setting the foundation.
Greg describes the process as much like building a bridge. He set steel beams horizontally on concrete sauna tubes. Five main
pillars support the home, along with smaller ones for the porches.
The pillars are 10 feet tall and go about 6 feet underground.
The garage is traditionally built with cement blocks.
The bottom of the home is made of cedar plywood. Because it was not possible to have a basement, Greg used 17-inch floor trusses and filled that space with insulation.
“The floor still gets a little cold in the winter,” he said.
The Hills have flood insurance on the home, even though they are not in a flood zone. Greg said he feels confident the water
won’t rise to the house.
“But I never say never,” he added with a chuckle.
After a hard rain, the water can get as high as 6 feet around the house, but subsides quickly. Because this makes the yard a bit mushy at times, traditional landscaping does not work for them.
The home looks surprisingly large upon entering the front door because of its open floor plan and vaulted ceiling. A loft area holds an open office-type area, with a large bedroom on each side.Their two children from Greg’s first marriage were teenagers when the couple built the house, and have grown up and moved on. Their son’s room has a hunting motif and an antique bed and other old family pieces.
Doors that blend into the walls lead to storage areas in the eaves of the home. The other bedroom is where Denise does her crafts.
The loft space itself is what she calls “the catch-all room.” Built-in shelves hold their books and collections and a mounted trophy buck holds the place of honor over the fireplace. The fireplaces, by the way, are direct vent, high-efficiency fireplaces used to heat the home.
A small outside balcony off the loft overlooks the wooded backyard and affords them the only place to sit in the sun.
Inside, the loft overlooks the two-story great room with its knotty pine structural beams that stretch across the top. Another log beam serves as the railing for the staircase.
The first-floor master bedroom runs the entire west-side width of the house. It features a rustic decor, a sitting area and another beautiful backyard view. This room’s fireplace has a 100-yearold mantel made from quartersawn oak. It was purchased from someone who rescued it from an old home in Akron.
Denise describes their decorating style as “very eclectic.”
“I just have old stuff, not really good antiques, but stuff I grew up with and like to keep.”
Having a log-style home can have a few downsides.
Carpenter bees have paid them visits, leaving their larvae, which attract the woodpeckers. The Hills periodically chase away the birds and plug the holes.
Staining the wood periodically can be a chore, as well. But it’s all a pretty good tradeoff for being able to listen to the creek through the open windows on summer nights or sitting on the porch watching a spring rain, Denise said.