Creek Fairy Home: A Cabin Full of DreamsNov 14th, 2010 | By philtucker | Category: Showcase Home
Some children have dreams, grow up and forget them. Others take hold of those dreams, keep them up front and allow them to come true. “As far back as I can recall, I have wanted to live in a tiny house in the mountains by a creek,” explained Lucy Tkachenko. She held on to that dream until it finally became a reality. Today her enchanting log cabin is really her dream come true.
When she bought the cabin, Tkachenko proceeded to tear it apart, wall by wall. Friends came in to help. As they removed walls, exposing the original logs, they loved what they found. A friend demonstrated the process of chinking which involves refilling the gaps between the logs with a mixture of masonry to make the cabin watertight. Armed with bags of concrete, chicken wire and a trowel, Tkachenko began the task. “One hundred and fifty bags later I was finally done! I never wanted to chink again as long as I live!”
Tkachenko did much of the work herself with the help of friends. “It took me six months to renovate it, working seven days a week,” she said.
Tkachenko has an innate ability to make the most of everything and any situation. This is apparent throughout her enchanting home. As she tore out the ceiling and exposed the rafters, she was delighted to discover that they were constructed from boards taken from railroad boxcars of the old Norfolk & Western. Some of the original stenciling was still visible. Because Tkachenko wanted to preserve this, she left it unpainted.
The floors throughout the cabin are red pine. Tkachenko bleached the wood and then pickled the boards. This process produced a light glaze with the wood’s grain showing through. Then she coated the floor with a layer of shellac. The effect creates a delicate element in the rooms.
Tkachenko has a knack for combining her unusual finds with contrasting treasures. On a shoestring budget, she has taken garage sale finds and bargain basement treasures to create an enchanting habitat.
Thrift shops, antique stores and house sales are all sources for her finds. Window toppers of old tin, reclaimed doors and even part of a cemetery headstone are incorporated into her home. Tkachenko likes the weathered look and has an eye for the unusual and unexpected. Used anywhere else, some of her finds might be considered trashy. Here they are whimsical and fanciful.
Tkachenko opened up a wall in her tiny galley kitchen and replaced it with a counter. She used tin from an ornate ceiling found on a roadside to face the counter and then topped it with a black granite slab purportedly from an old cemetery. Exactly how it came to be sold at a local salvage yard she is not sure, but it clearly belongs in this cabin!
Tkachenko enjoys showing off her collections. “If you like something, you find a way to incorporate it,” she explained. At a flea market she found a pair of chalk lamps decorated with white birds for her mantel. “When I first saw them I knew that they looked kind of tacky, but I thought they could work.” And they do!
A serious collector of angels, cherubs and fairies, Tkachenko explained how her collection began when years ago a friend called and asked if she could come over with a guest to see the house. As they sat on the back porch enjoying the sounds of summer on the creek an amazing Luna moth landed nearby. It was fluttering around them and when one of her guests asked, “What is that?” Lucy replied, “I think it is the creek fairy!” Ever since then, Tkachenko became known as the Creek Fairy. “It gained momentum, and then I started to collect little fairy things.”
Tkachenko also has a spiritual collection. “I am not a Catholic, but I have always been attracted to icons and religious art,” she explained. Paintings of various saints, crucifixes, rosaries and statuary abound. “They are peaceful and calming.” In place of a headboard in the master bedroom, Tkachenko hung a religious mural depicting three holy men. It originally came from a church, and she found it at a yard sale. “I tell everyone that I sleep with three wise men!” she laughed.
The master bedroom is quite cozy and just fits a full-size bed in one corner. The Bella Notte bedding with its luxurious linens, pillows and coverlets creates an air of perfection in this tiny room. An ever-so-small cubicle houses Tkachenko’s office. With just enough room for a laptop and a file cabinet, the space serves its purpose without any excess.
A side porch is painted a rich coral hue. It is lined with windows that look down directly onto the creek. “This is Bella’s room,” said Tkachenko. Bella is her Blue Front Amazon parrot that, according to Tkachenko, “Talks up a storm.”
When she added a small loft, it added 200 square feet to her existing 800-square foot cabin. With just enough room for a bed and bureau, it is a favorite spot for her grandchildren when they spend the night. And the staircase leading to the loft offers the perfect backdrop for the living room. A highlight of this cozy room is the stone fireplace with its roaring fire, an important element in a cabin with no insulation!
“I have wanted a Carol Bolton couch for ten years. They retail for $7,500.” Carol Hicks Bolton furniture is known
for its rich tapestries, old-fashioned turnings and aged finishes. Her sofas combine a palette of several fabrics and provide the perfect effect. Once again Tkachenko’s dream came true when she found a used one for a fraction of the original cost!
Tkachenko also has an eye for fine art and enjoys collecting local work. Her artwork includes a still life by Floyd artist Jeanie O’Neill and an abstract painting by Diane Patton of Roanoke. “As poor as we are in these days and times, somehow we can make it work,” said Tkachenko, referring to her expensive taste in fine art. She mixes better-quality pieces with her flea market finds to create an elegant yet budget-minded interior. And if it is something she really wants, she often barters, especially when it is priced beyond her means.
Tkachenko also collects cloches. They are everywhere and in all sizes and shapes. Usually these glass bell-shaped covers keep cheese fresh before serving, yet at her home there is nary a piece of cheese in sight. Each of her cloches holds some special treasure, be it a tiny fairy figurine, a special shell or other little find.
An unexpected element in this mountain retreat is Tkachenko’s extensive shell collection. Shells are here and there throughout the cabin covering little spaces on the walls, framing mirrors and resting seductively on shelves. Like her fairies and angels, their presence adds a special illusion to her home.
Tkachenko’s style for holiday decorations is subtle and not overdone. “I use things that I have, or borrow from friends.” To help with this year’s decorations, she asked her cousins Jason Jennings from Kentucky and Cynthia Dupps from Arkansas to come and help decorate. Both are artists with innate decorating skills, and together, the three created a little masterpiece.
A monochromatic color scheme using mostly white tones presents an elegant air to the cabin so appropriate for the holidays. Garlands are woven up the staircase and are secured with bows fashioned from sheeting. Tkachenko explained that she took an old sheet and tore it in long narrow strips, making perfect ribbons for bows!
Floral arrangements abound. One large display combines lace-capped hydrangea blossoms, pine boughs and little dolls’ heads framed with ruffled collars. Evergreen branches hang as valances over window frames and small Christmas trees are perched here and there. How perfect for this house!
White butcher paper tied up with reclaimed white ribbon conceals all of the gifts. “I spent about $22 for all of the decorations,” said Lucy. “I bought some white balls and a few other things. Most was stuff I already had. Plus I look in thrift stores year-round.”
In addition to her decorative talents, Tkachenko is a jewelry maker. She collects unusual stones from all over to create necklaces and pins. One of her specialties is heart-shaped stones. She visits her cousin, Cynthia, in Arkansas who lives along a river which she claims “spits out heart-shaped rocks.” These stones have holes that naturally occur in the rocks signifying that a spirit has moved through. She ships them to Indonesia for the silver work. Then she does the beading to finish each piece.
Lucy Tkachenko’s one-of-a-kind jewelry can be found at Valhalla Vineyard on Mount Chestnut in Roanoke, The Urban Gypsy on Grandon Road and Present Thyme near Towers Shopping Center.
Contact Lucy at email@example.com
“I started making jewelry over twenty years ago.” Her jewelry making has provided opportunities to travel as she locates sources for her stones and silversmiths. “My business has taken me all over the world and it has been a wonderful way to support myself.”
While Tkachenko enjoys designing her jewelry, she works wherever she can. She knows that sometimes there is lots of work involved in achieving your dream. So in her ‘spare time’ Tkachenko is a sales representative for a line of greeting cards and works at Valhalla Vineyard. She will also abandon her delightful cabin for a weekend and rent it to visitors. Lucky couples that choose this charming retreat may also opt for a gourmet meal that she prepares and delivers.
The outside of Tkachenko’s cabin is as charming as the inside. The exterior boasts those lovely logs and the white multi-paned windows are framed in bright red. Pieces of ornate iron fencing cover each window’s exterior, providing a decorative answer to security needs.
“What I like about living here is the sound of the water and the wildlife,” declares Tkachenko. “We have over eighty ducks living on the creek, including wood ducks and mallards. There is also a great blue heron here. People swear that it has been living here for forty years.” It is a special treat to drive home into the foothills of the mountains. Yet while “we are in the middle of the woods we are right around the corner from civilization.”
Patches of moss and groundcover carpet the earth. A steep staircase leads to the creek. Here a hammock offers a spot to relax and listen to the sounds of the water. Officially known as Back Creek, its nickname, “Crystal Creek” refers to the crystals that appear in the water when the sun shines a certain way.
Tkachenko explained that as she rushes home to be near her beloved creek she recalls the scripture, “He leadeth me beside the still waters, he restoreth my soul.” Tkachenko’s tiny cabin does indeed provide her with vitality and spirit. Her fairies and angels give her strength. Things happen for a reason and some things are simply meant to be. “Everyone has a destiny,” said Lucy Tkachenko, “and we must follow our fate.” With that in mind, she has fulfilled her dream with her beloved cabin.