Dating back to 1865, this historic cabin enjoys a 21st century facelift without compromising its original character and integrity.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Matt Kocourek
When Randy and Leslie Treas were searching for some acreage just outside the Kansas City area several years ago, they not only realized the dream of owning property, but they also discovered a treasured gem in the process, a diamond in the rough at first, but something that, with a bit of love, passion and some elbow grease, resulted in something magical.
“We originally purchased the land (about 100 acres) five or six years ago and this deteriorated one-room, log cabin just so happened to be on the property,” noted Leslie, indicating county records show it dates back to 1865 and was most notably used as a hunting camp for several decades. “It had peeling floors, rotting paneling and mouse droppings everywhere.”
Even though the cabin had greatly deteriorated, there was still was something historically inspiring about the place, and the Treas family decided to roll up their sleeves and tend to restoring the cabin for use as a fun weekend escape, getaway, and cozy gathering spot for friends and family.
After about three years, the rustic log cabin was transformed for modern-day use without losing its historic charm and personality, something that is not lost on Randy and Leslie.
“I love historic fiction and often wonder about who lived here back in the 19th century; what they did; and what was going on in this country at that time,” reflected Leslie, who appreciates its historic appeal, as it brings forth memories of her own childhood growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania.
“We have a 100-year old cottage there and this place reminds me of it,” she said. “Just like the cottage, this cabin gives me peace, as there is something familiar about this kind of space.”
In order to go about preserving the cabin, the couple had to find things typical of a previous era. They also had to install preservation material to maintain its integrity while simultaneously bringing it into the 21st century.
“The original cabin had an open porch but in the late 1940s, it was closed in like a screened-in porch,” said Leslie. “There was also another detached porch added.”
When it came time to design the interior of the cabin, Leslie turned to long-time friend and professional interior designer, Beth Phillips, owner of Interior Design Beth Phillips. Beth brought in co-worker and Interior Designer Drew Harrison to work with her on the project. Her sister, Christine Anderson is the Business Manager.
“It was fascinating taking a walk back in time and design around the life of an abandoned log cabin,” expressed Beth. “There were many surprises along the way and absolutely nothing was plumb. The floor-to-ceiling fireplace is a story in itself. The hand-chiseled Kansas limestone had a personality of its own with its imperfect, yet beautiful rhythm rising to the ceiling. In the main room next to the fireplace, the sconces looked as if they were hand crafted or bought off a traveling wagon.”
The cabin has a full kitchen, bathroom with shower and enough sleeping space for up to eight people.
“We added a spiral staircase to the loft above, which houses a full size bed and two foam roll-out beds for additional sleeping space,” said Leslie. “We also put in a vintage teal leather sleeper sofa on the main floor.”
Surprisingly, the kitchen appliances, dating back to the early 1950s, still function.
“We chose to refurbish the rusted out porcelain sink and sink base and then built cabinetry to make the kitchen a useable and functional space,” explained Beth.
Other design elements include café curtains in the front room for privacy while allowing light to penetrate the space. The chairs in the main room are reminiscent of the Jenny Lind spool chairs of the 1850s and a small lamp table that was found in the cabin still remains. The deep rich hue color palette is also reflective of the historic time period.
Passionate about sailing, the Treas incorporated a few motifs in that regard, such as some paintings and a whimsical port hole window, installed to cover a hole in the wall in the loft and from which guests can peek through to the main part of the cabin. A few outdoor delights include a garden, walking trails, ample seating, a bonfire area and even the old outhouse which still stands.
“It was an absolute delight to work on this project with the Treas family,” said Beth. “The cabin has been used for many events and gatherings and is enjoyed by all.”
Just minutes from the main home of the Treas family, this log cabin frequently opens its door to host family and friends, Bible studies, bridal showers, business meetings, and more. It is its own complete little world, far away from the trappings of present day time.
What’s missing, however, is cable TV and Wi-Fi, but for good reason.
“We intentionally wanted this to be a place where people could visit and completely unplug,” smiled Leslie.
Contractor: Kaw Home | Interior Design: IDBP ~ Interior Design Beth Phillips | Landscaping: Rosehill Gardens | Iron Staircase: Charles Segebrecht Construction