Couple builds dream mountain cabin in their Clemmons backyard

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John and LaDonna Bost (Walt Unks/Journal)

CLEMMONS, N.C. — For years John and LaDonna Bost traveled to the Blowing Rock area to look at land and cabins. Owning a mountain cabin was their dream, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Being spiritual, they prayed, wished and waited — and kept on visiting mountain cabins.

John gave LaDonna a photo of a mountain cabin as a reminder of their goal. But eventually she gave up and figured it would never happen.

Click here to view more photos of the cabin

Then one day she thought: Why don’t you build it here?

She was shaken and excited at the same time. Why not? Why not, indeed? Since they couldn’t build their dream cabin in the mountains, they decided to build it in their backyard.

LaDonna drew up initial plans on graph paper. Mike Dixson, of Dixson Builders in Yadkinville, translated them into architectural drawings. And Dixson Builders constructed the cabin.

“I got it permitted and gave her an envelope for Mother’s Day,” said John, “which is about the most romantic thing I have ever done.” They started construction in May and the cabin was completed by Thanksgiving.

There were some minor adjustments to the original floor plan.

“We were standing on the sub floor one day and realized that the best view was on the east side, so we decided to make a big window in that wall,” he said.

Their neighbors had planted a bamboo forest screening the backyard. It added to the remote feel of the location.

There weren’t many trees to clear since the backyard had once been occupied by a pre-Civil War cemetery, relocated before the Bosts purchased the land.

A lone hickory tree was saved and continues to live through a hole cut out in the deck. The only other tree that needed to be cleared — a poplar — was recycled into door posts at the side door.

The 720-square-foot cabin is covered with poplar shingles, has a brick fireplace covered with faux river rock; there are pine walls and ceilings and oak floors. It is accessed through the back door of their home on a blue-stone walkway.

A conversation area in front of the fireplace is formed by two stuffed, persimmon couches, a coffee table and black arm chairs covered with a rooster fabric. A stuffed pillow in one chair says “Welcome to our Cabin.” LaDonna had picked it up years before there was a cabin.

There is a rooster motif in the wallpaper that adorns the cozy eating area with a wooden table and chairs; a rooster lamp sits on the counter and an occasional rooster is tucked in the plate displays. But in the cabin this time of year, Christmas is everywhere.

“We host church groups here or nonprofits who want to come in for planning meetings,” said John. Special friends of the couple have received an invitation to share their mountain-like cabin. They have had pig roasts and weddings in their backyard. Both John and LaDonna are involved with Winston-Salem First, formerly known as the First Assembly of God. It was a church job that brought the couple to Winston-Salem in 1993 from the Lexington area where they had been working as teachers in Davidson County. John later became an administrator. John, 66, became headmaster at the church’s school and LaDonna, 65, joined the church choir and became a prime factor in its Christmas shows and church decorations.

Last Friday, local residents, saw her decorating talent on display at Christmas for the City, a church outreach that brought thousands to the Benton Convention Center to celebrate the season with food, music and crafts in a winter wonderland of blue and white lights, cotton snowed trees and deer leaning over blue fabric streams.

For a time, LaDonna decorated other people’s homes for Christmas. Now she focuses on the cabin, changing the decorations to match the seasons. John, a former mayor of Clemmons, retired from the school administrator post and founded his own company, Master Counsel, which advises clients on real estate, funding and land acquisitions. The cabin was finished in 2006, and in their main home, a kitchen remodeling project was completed in August.

“We opened up the kitchen. Before it had the feeling of three rooms,” said LaDonna, who likes to describe her kitchen as “French Country Rustic.”

When they took out the partial walls, they lost some overhead cabinets, but they happily settled on additional drawer cabinets, one of which is directly across from the dishwasher.

“See” said LaDonna, showing off how easily it is to lift the dishes from the dishwasher directly into the drawer with wooden-peg separators.

LaDonna is a fan of distressed cabinets. She ordered her light-cream cabinets with cuts and rasping made to order in the factory.

Her darker wood cabinets are naturally distressed alderwood. It comes with knotholes and ragged accents. The large granite island — it weighs a 1,000 pounds — has creamy and brown shades, large brown and black veins and a prominent black spot that looks like nature dropped some ink in the middle of the granite.

On the wall in back of the range is a fireback, something normally seen at the back of fireplaces to protect bricks from overheating, but lately being introduced into kitchens as a decorative wall item. It’s a heavy black cast iron with a rooster relief.

The home in front of the cabin is a three bedroom, 3,000-square-foot residence. Throughout a color palette of white, cream, brown and green is employed. This year in the den, a Christmas tree has been added to celebrate their grandson, John Luther Jackson. He is the 4-month-old son of their daughter, Summer Jackson, and her husband Chris.

Like the tree in the cabin, the tree in the den was chosen in August. Each year the Bosts go to a mountain tree farm near Sparta to tag what some would call Charlie Brown trees — misshapen and scraggly.

“I like a tree you can look into,” said LaDonna, as she points to the lichen growing on the bark in the den’s tree. The tree farmer doesn’t charge the Bosts for the trees on one condition: They can’t say where they bought it.

“He was embarrassed because he thought they were ugly,” said LaDonna.

But with love, attention, cotton snow and homemade Christmas-card ornaments, they have become masterpieces in the Bost home.

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