One fascinating American country home style is known as a dogtrot house. Somewhere between a camp and a cottage it’s a supremely rustic dwelling that borders on the primitive. A phenomenon of the pre-Civil War south, a breezeway house, as it is also known, consists of log cabins connected by a covered bridge or walkway that functions as a hall. Like some homes in tropical climates, living spaces are not fully connected and screens play an important role. This 1840s dogtrot was acquired in Kentucky and moved near Madison, Georgia where it was extensively rebuilt and decorated by the owners, a former utility and exec turned nurseryman and his wife, an interior designer.
Together, they preserved the original character and informality down to interior walls filled by hand with a mixture of clay, mortar and sand between the logs, which produces a somewhat striped effect where it is left unpainted. Having never traveled extensively in the South, I was not familiar with the dogtrot (also called a possom-trot!) vernacular. But I immediately related to the elegance of weathered natural wood clapboard, hand-cut pine, and the straightforward simplicity. Although the cabins are located on a beautifully landscaped 55-acre property where the owner also grows ornamental trees, the house retains an intimacy and and a welcome austerity that makes it very sophisticated. Aunt Pittypat’s this is not.
Outside, the two-story cabins are set on a rise [top]. Porches attached under the eaves are shed-shaped extensions supported informally by rough-hewn beams.
Double screen doors are a necessity in a hot climate and help provide ventilation. A primitive chest and patina-ed rocking chair look as if they have been in their places for at least half a century.
A corner of the living and dining room shows how striations in the filled log walls are preserved for their beautiful pattern. In a home of this type, lighting can be a challenge. Spotlights, attached to the horizontal beams, below the ceiling help illuminate informal groups of vintage photos.
I’ve shown this kitchen before but not for its own elemental quality. I included it in my Crossbuck Kitchens post because of the X motif on the antique bench. I didn’t realize until now, though, that it occupies its own cabin from Appalachian Virginia and is attached to the main dogtrot house. An antique wood bench pushed up against the work bench helps conceal big items stored below the work top and makes it somewhat social.
A striped skirt conceals plumbing below the galvanized steel sink as well as shelves used for kitchen storage. A shelf suspended from the ceiling holds basic crockery. A fig vine that grew in through the window was left to grow across the sill and the ceiling.
Upstairs, the master bedroom has a screen door, stone rubble fireplace and whitewashed ceiling. The 4-poster bed was handmade by the owner using wood sections of a tree on the property.
A window under the eaves in a corner of the master bedroom offers just the spot for a draped table where fresh flowers are displayed.
One upstairs guest room reminds me of a whitewashed room in a Scandinavian country house. Perhaps its the Gustavian gray painted bed.
Even painted rattan furniture on one of the porches has a vintage feel that’s fully in keeping with a house that evokes a gentle spirit and pace from a distant time.
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