On Warmth: The Home of George and Cindy Riedel

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The first day of spring this year finds our household digging out from under a round of the flu and six-inches of snow. So it’s nice to think back just a couple of weeks to our visit to the home of George and Cindy Riedel, of Akron, Ohio. As luck would have it a brilliant sunny morning, since we were visiting with our friend, Chris Uhler who would be taking photos of the Riedel’s home for us.

Theirs is a very special home, since it’s the first timber frame construction that Dan was part of, and where he first saw the technique up close. Outwardly, simply a stately brick residence, tucked back in the woods on one of the winding, twisty, light-dappled roads that those familiar with the Cuyahoga Valley area know so well. But step inside and be prepared to catch your breath. Words initially fail, but if I had to pick one, it would be warmth. The warm glow of heavy timbers and wood finishes in the late-winter, early-morning light. The warmth of two wood fires, one a masonry heater, one a soapstone stove, emanating the most delightful kind of heat all around. And the welcoming smiles of George and Cindy, two of the warmest people I’ve ever met. They greet Dan at the door like family, call him “Danny,” and express disappointment that we didn’t bring our son, Danny, with us.

The home was built in three phases starting in 2003. For the first, Dan was brought in as a sawyer, and with his portable Woodmizer band-saw he cut on-site many of the timbers needed for the home from trees on the Riedel’s own property. That’s when Dan first met Roman, a master timber framer, and the two subsequently joined forces for phases two and three, which added a timber framed sunroom and porch covering at the rear of the home. Cindy pulls out a sheaf of photos from a kitchen drawer and lays them across the countertop. These are pictures of phases two and three, and Dan features prominently in many of them, wearing a bright green shirt and that white-blond hair that was his signature in his youth. As Dan and the couple reminisce, Chris circulates through the house, capturing details of the hand-craftsmanship, the beauty of the wood, and how the light plays throughout the space. I’ve always had a theory--as someone who has never lived in a timber frame--that the light would be one of the best parts about it. George confirms this, and it’s not just the sunlight either: “We lie in bed and watch the moon move from one window to another.” He pauses to run a hand over a nearby brace which retains the curve and contrasting sapwood of the walnut log it came from. “It never gets old,” he says, confirming another of my theories of living in a timber frame home.

We owe many thanks to George and Cindy, as the people who first introduced Dan to timber framing, for cheering on his career since then, and also for inviting us to photograph their beautiful home for our website. Thanks also to Chris Uhler, who took the photos included with this post, as well as many more which you will begin to see on our website in the coming days and weeks.

Leah Ogonek