Log in Newsletter

A Country Home – John Judd’s Cabin Reflects His Tennessee Roots

For those who cringe at the proliferation of McMansions and cookie-cutter subdivisions, the Harnett County home of John Judd is a breath of fresh air.

“It’s definitely different,” says Judd. “It has what I like to call the Cracker Barrel factor. People come here and they just relax and feel at home.”

That’s because Judd’s home has the laid-back feel of a country cabin, with a woodsy atmosphere that reflects the natural beauty outside his doors.

Judd, a Field Engineer for Cingular Wireless, began making plans for his new home shortly after purchasing 18 acres off of Byrd’s Pond Road in 2000. Nostalgic for his Tennessee upbringing, he had been dreaming of a log cabin for some time.

“If you look around the country,” he says, “some of the oldest homes still standing are log cabins. As long as you take care of them, they really last forever.”

A kit from Tennessee Log Homes provided the frame for the house. The rest, from the hardwood floors to the spindles on the staircase, came from Judd’s own backyard. He had a saw mill temporarily set up on the property to process the poplar, hickory and cedar trees that would become his walls, ceilings and floors. This back-to-basics approach also inspired some unique décor for the finished product – a collection of vintage tree saws that guides visitors up the staircase.

Judd’s Tennessee roots are also evident in the bathroom. The sink rests in the top of a genuine Jack Daniels barrel, and a galvanized steel drinking trough serves as a roomy bathtub.

“That was actually an old idea,” says Judd. “When we were kids, we’d play in the yard so long that we were too dirty to come in the house. My grandma would make us wash up in one of these before we could come in.”

With 18 acres to explore, Judd still enjoys playing in the yard – and he’s discovered more than just free building material. Cherries, blueberries and wild grapes all grow within view of the house. Wildlife sightings – deer, foxes, raccoons, hawks and possum, to name a few – are a daily treat.

“When I’m out mowing, the hawks fly from tree to tree out there,” he says. “The mower flushes the mice out, and the hawks just snap them right up.”

But the land has also turned up manmade treasures. While clearing brush in a remote corner of his property, Judd discovered a makeshift dump full of broken toys, containers and other artifacts from as far back as the 1930s. He saved and washed some of the intact pieces, including a Royal Crown Cola bottle and one that once contained “Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root.”

Best of all, Judd says, affordability is among the features of his unique property. His total investment for a custom house on 18 acres is, so far, less than $150,000.

“It’s probably the least expensive house to get this much attention,” he laughs.

With his expansion options wide open, Judd plans to double the size of the house over the next few years. He has plans for a master suite and a second outbuilding for storage.

Judd shares his home with three dogs (Blondie, Little Bit and Bunny) and two cats (Dinan and Emma). Despite the sprawling land around them, Judd says his neighbors are a close-knit community and part of the reason he loves his rural lifestyle.

“I couldn’t live in the average suburban house.” He says. “What kind of life can you have on a quarter-acre, not even knowing your neighbors’ names?”

Each year, when the weather turns cool, Judd hosts a bonfire party at the house. He’s already collecting material for this year’s fire.

“We get the bluegrass music going and have some steaks or Tex-Mex,” he says. “The stars are really bright then and it’s just a little cool out. It’s just the perfect time to be here.”

Lia V. Tremblay is a freelance writer who grew up in Fayetteville.