Independence Day

Log Home Design - July 2007

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Log Home Design - July 2007

Laurie and Doug Pooch are no strangers to log homes.  In fact, ever since she could remember, Laurie knew she was destined to own one someday.

"I would get magazines and drool over how warm and inviting they looked in the photos," she says.  Despite her passion, however, Laurie hesitated.  Concerned about the maintenance and settling, she wasn't sure if she was ready to take the plunge.  "Then I read about half-log construction," she says.

Laurie and Doug learned that half-log homes are conventionally built and insulated, then the exterior is encased in logs that literally are split in half, while the interior walls can be covered in log or other materials, including drywall.  Laurie was intrigued.  To her, this meant she could live her log home dream with the design flexibility she craved but without the maintenance that she was unsure about.

With their zeal for log homes renewed, in 1992, the couple built their first half-log home, a two-story, three-bedroom house in Waukee, Iowa, that was well-suited for their young family.  But with their kids now grown, the couple dreamed of something different, and Laurie set to work sketching plans for a new house that would better fit their newfound empty-nester lifestyle.

That design consisted of a number of essential elements - particularly a master suite, laundry, kitchen, office, sunroom and greatroom all located on the main level; a loft; and two guest bedrooms as well as a family room on the lower level.  They were so satisfied with their first half-log home, there was no question that they would build that way again.  Laurie calls it, "The best of both worlds, because you can use as much log as you want."  This time around, they chose a handcrafted, kiln-dried log package from Oostburg, Wisconsin - based Expedition Log Homes.

"Often, people think of half-log construction as veneers.  That's not what we do," explains Jan Koepsell, owner of Expedition Log Homes.  "We start with a full log, which we debark and then cut in half, keeping the log's heart center because that maintains the integrity and strength of the wood.  The log is completed with a handcrafted finish using a drawknife to showcase its natural characteristics."  The Pooches chose pine logs with a consistent 8-inch stack height.  On the exterior, the corners are 10 inches in diameter and finished in the full-round butt-and-pass style.

Under the auspices of their newly established building company, Cabin Fever Construction, and as dealer representatives for Expedition, the couple broke ground for their new home in 2004 and never looked back.

A Home With the Works

The Pooches' home is highly energy efficient.  Expedition's log packages meet the Energy Star requirements for Wisconsin, and combining the high thermal mass value of half-logs with R-30 insulated walls (R-40 in the roof) and Pella windows increased the home's efficiency.  Laurie and Doug also chose Energy Star appliances, as well as a geothermal heating-and-cooling system that uses buried lateral loops and a compressor to extract warmth from the earth in winter and coolness in summer.  The result?  Cabin Fever's first certified Energy Star Home.

Not only is Doug and Laurie's home literally warm, the design and décor is snug and inviting, as well.  "Some log homes have very tall ceilings and huge expanses of glass, but this home is open and sunny without going over the top," notes Jan.  "The flow is wonderful, and the home is very relaxing and livable."

But remember, this house was designed with visitors in mind.  It's spacious enough to host 40 comfortably, and the couple enjoys entertaining church and community groups as well as their family.  "Everyone wants to have Thanksgiving and Christmas here," Laurie says.  "This house has a cozy feel, but there's still plenty of room for everyone to stay."

it a try."

As the family began designing the cabin, they went back and forth on the size before settling on a layout with 3,458 square feet of livable space on three levels, confident that would accommodate the family and fishing equipment.  Construction began early in 2004 and was completed by May 2005.

The main level starts with the entry, which leads directly to the great room.  On one side of the great room are the dining room and kitchen.  On the other is the master bedroom suite with a shower and two vanities.  The powder room adjacent to the great room features a distinctive vanity crafted from the lower trunk of a tree with a hollowed-out space where a sink is dropped in.  There's also a screened porch, which is accessible from the dining area and deck and has a terrific view of the lake.

A catwalk spans the loft, which has a large guestroom on one side, a bunkroom for the grandchildren on the other and a bathroom in the middle.  All four dormers on this level have built-in window seats to enjoy viewing the lake and surrounding forest.

The walkout basement is finished with pine tongue-and-groove paneling on the walls and has a full bath.  "There are couches, chairs, a big-screen television and a basketball hoop," David says.  "We are having too much fun using it as a playroom to section it off into separate rooms."

Even though they remained in St. Louis during construction, Gregg and Debbie eagerly searched for items to decorate the cabin.  They looked through log-home magazines for ideas, purchased some pieces on eBay and located the perfect wrought-iron railing in Colorado.

Hanne describes the cabin's decorating style as "hodgepodge," while David adds it is kid-friendly.  Overall, the family incorporated a North Country theme, with wildlife upholstery on many of the chairs.  Hanne and Debbie bought the upholstered furnishings and coffee tables from Slumberland in Hayward and the three-tiered antler chandelier, dining-room set and leather-covered barstools from Antler Creations.  "Regardless of what label might be put on our cabin, it is definitely not decorated for people to look at," Hanne points out.  "This cabin is for people to use."

Heating sources include in-floor radiant heat in the basement and master bathroom.  Propane-fueled forced air and a wood-burning fireplace provide warmth to the remainder of the home.  Central air conditioning moderates Wisconsin summers.

Because of the strict landscaping and building codes for the lake property, the Dukes left the majority of their acreage in a natural state, adding only a few pine trees and some annuals.  They did, however, make a path from the cabin to the lake, where a dock is handy for fishing and boating.

As a rule, David and Hanne Duke travel to Hayward three to four times a year to join whichever of their children might meet them there.  They traditionally spend Thanksgiving with the Winns at the lake.  "This is our favorite place.  It is so quiet at night, we can hear the loons calling on the lake," Debbie says.  "Our children catch largemouth bass right off the dock or even an occasional frog, and we sometimes see bald eagles."

Best of all, David ads, "Our children remember my parents and their grandparent's cabin.  We are so happy that our grandchildren also have the opportunity to experience the beauty and stillness of the woods.

Interested in seeing the Ashworth plan?  Click here!

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