At the Butterfly Gap Retreat just outside Knoxville, Tennessee, managing the design, construction, and rental of modern guesthouses is a family affair. Built as alternatives to the ubiquitous log cabin found in the state, the 900-acre destination features six rental homes, among the most recent being a 900-square-foot, handicap-accessible wood-and-glass abode.
Years ago, Mike and Becky Johnson purchased the property with the goal of preserving as much of the land as possible and sharing the beauty of Tennessee with visitors from around the country. Though the duo are largely retired today, their daughter, Laura Lockwood, now runs the Butterfly Gap Retreat business, along with her husband, Ryan Lockwood, who also acts as one of the main builders of the homes.
"The idea behind all of the guesthouses stems from a desire to build an adults-only getaway that challenged the tractional concept of rentals in East Tennessee," Laura says. "We decided it was time to build a handicap-accessible one so that anyone could stay here." The new two-person house, designed by architect Gary Best of Best & Associates and built by Ryan, is ADA compliant but its aesthetics certainly didn't suffer because of it. Throughout, a concrete floor (with built-in radiant heating) creates a smooth surface, and simple furnishings keep wheelchair obstacles to a minimum. The low platform bed allows for easy access; the dining room table features a few slim supports so a wheelchair can fit underneath without difficulty.
In the kitchen, the cabinets were designed to sit eight inches above the ground so that the feet of a person in a wheelchair would fit underneath and let them be close to the shelves, counter, and Whirlpool appliances. The cabinets were specifically built without doors for easier access and the shelves slide out so items at the back can be reached without grandiose efforts.