Local builder constructs weekend retreat in Jessamine County for family, friends

The 1,600-square-foot cabin is constructed of concrete logs.
The 1,600-square-foot cabin is constructed of concrete logs.

Builder Shawn Murphy has constructed houses in many price ranges and styles throughout the last 14 years. However, the custom log cabin he finished last month was a first for the owner of SGM Homes.

The new log cabin is located on 400 acres of land that Murphy owns in rural Jessamine County. He and his friends enjoy hunting on the land. During their hunting excursions, they used to stay in an old house on the property that they called their “deer camp.”

However, the deer camp had some structural issues that Murphy (the builder) could not ignore.

“The house had been there since the early 1900s,” he said. “It didn’t leak but other than that, it was in pretty rough shape. It had no foundation; it had been built off railroad ties.”

So Murphy started thinking about the property’s potential, which included tearing down the old house and building something new.

“I thought it would be neat to have a really nice cabin where we could have Thanksgiving, Christmas — and just spend time relaxing.”

Murphy envisioned a rustic lodge that he and his friends could use, and where he and his family — wife, Kristy, and two children, Gavin and Ava — could enjoy weekend retreats.

He shared his idea with his foreman, Chuck Withers, who sketched a plan for the cabin on a 2-foot-by-3-foot piece of plywood.

“(Chuck) came up with the plan, the elevation, the material list — and he really captured my vision for a rustic look. So I said ‘Let’s build it,’” Murphy said.

Rural living

The building process went quickly. Construction began in August and was finished 10 weeks later — just in time for modern gun deer season, which opened in early November.

“We thought it would take a lot longer to build,” Murphy said. “We worked on it a day or two a week, but once we got started, everyone enjoyed working on it.

“Throughout the process, we made a few eraser marks on that piece of plywood, but for the most part, we built everything exactly the way Chuck drew it.”

The 1,600-square-foot cabin is laid out comfortably for Murphy’s family and his group of hunting buddies.

The downstairs features a spacious open great room, a large kitchen and the owners’ suite.

The upstairs loft area is roomy enough for four twin-size log beds. There is also an upstairs bathroom that divides the loft into two areas.

“I knew the kids would want their own spaces, so we put the bathroom up there in the middle to give them that separation,” Murphy said.

In addition to the layout, the materials give the cabin a hunting-lodge feel.

The exterior is made from maintenance-free concrete logs, which were manufactured in Corbin, Ky. The interior beams and rafters are hemlock.

Some of Murphy’s favorite features are the recycled materials that he was able to incorporate into the design, including wood from an old barn on the property that was repurposed for the kitchen backsplash.

The kitchen bar also uses wood from the farm.

The sliding barn-style doors in the owners’ suite and the upstairs bathroom also contribute to the outdoor feel of the cabin, as do the smaller touches like the (faux) deer antlers on the sconces and the (authentic) animal mounts, which are part of the great room’s décor.

Another piece that adds character to the cabin is an antique sled that Murphy bought at a local yard sale and attached to one of the beams.

Other than the interesting materials and wall hangings, the cabin is simply decorated with a comfortable leather sectional sofa and a big-screen television, which they’ve already used to watch University of Kentucky games.

“We like to entertain, and there is plenty of room to cook and accommodate as many people as we want,” Murphy said.

Earlier this month, the Murphys hosted their first Christmas party at the cabin, and the weather also has allowed them to entertain outside.

The cabin sits off the road and backs up to the woods, creating privacy and the rustic retreat that Murphy was going for when he imagined it. It has covered front and back porches where family and friends can relax and enjoy the views.

Another favorite spot is the fire pit and paved patio in the back yard that can accommodate groups as large as 25 to 30. The kids like that area because there are vines hanging from nearby trees that are perfect for swinging, Murphy said.

While they’ve already enjoyed fall in their rustic retreat, the Murphys look forward to snowy winter weekends by their stone fireplace.

“It’s been so nice to know that we have somewhere we can go to get away from everything,” Murphy said. “We enjoy seeing the wildlife. It’s so peaceful here and a place where we can get away from our everyday stress and routines.”