Heaven in the Hills
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Heaven in the Hills

For one family, renovating a fixer-upper Kentucky cabin offers proximity to loved ones and respite from reality.

Written by Katherine Owen

Photos courtesy of Barth Conard


Dr. Barth Conard, a retired orthopedic trauma surgeon and Indiana resident, recounts his family’s experience setting up camp at their Kentucky cabin getaway. 

My wife is from Louisville, Kentucky, and has a big family. Maybe it’s like this everywhere, but people from Louisville like to move back to Louisville. (As a matter of fact, she’s telling me we’re going to move back there!) So, it was necessary to have a presence near her family, and this home appealed to us because it was in the wilderness. It’s a 5-acre lot with its own septic field. It feels very isolated, like you’re in the absolute hills and hollers of Kentucky, yet it’s only 20 minutes from Louisville. 

We’ve had the chance to be all over the place, and I just really like Kentucky. The hills, the simplicity … people have log cabins here because they just fit with the land. It’s a very unique spot from my point of view. 

When we bought this cabin years ago, there were tons of briars and honeysuckle and such, and you couldn’t really see 10 feet past the back edge of the house. I cleared all the brush myself over a two-to-three-year period. One of the stunning parts of the property is there are two or three creeks that intersect with waterfalls, and when it rains, you can hear them inside the house. The energy of the falls and creeks is so appealing. You hear the sound of the water, and you can just feel that energy. 

My wife and I were both in school for most of our young-adult life, so we lived in apartments. Our first home was in Lebanon, Indiana, which was a conventional home on a golf course. We didn’t have any experience with a log cabin before this; we didn’t have experience living in the woods or in the country or outside of a city, so it was a leap of faith. It was one of those things where we just went for it. 

It’s been very comforting. I think that really truly anyone, even if they didn’t like the idea at first, if they spent some time in the woods in a nicely done log cabin with all the idyllic elements — a warm fireplace crackling, the sounds of  birds chirping, the sight of a deer or a wild turkey in the back yard — I think it would be an experience that they would want more of. It really is a luxury. 

At our cabin, everybody is put in a different gear and has the chance to just exist. We’re fixing it up even more right now, and my wife has told me we’ll retire there. It’s where we escape the turbulence of our day-to-day lives.


See Also: 10 Things We Learned While Planning a Budget-Friendly, Off-Grid Home in the Woods

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