Log Home Living - August 2006
Romance and lofty notions of craftsmanship have their place, but sometimes the reason behind the building a log home is fairly simple: it's a place to unwind and have fun with family and friends. For Mario and Julie Galdi, the goal for their 3,400-square-foot home in New York's Catskill Mountains revolved around entertaining.
"We wanted a gathering place for the family where we could relax, take our shoes off and have a good time," says Mario. "And sure enough, when our boys, Ted and Chris, come home from college, they bring their friends, and they all want to meet up at the cabin." Adds Julie: "It feels as if you've on vacation here, even if it's only for a weekend."
Let the Fun Begin The home's floorplan features a great room with a 30-foot wall of windows, "We wanted one room to flow into another and the deck to wrap around, so every room gave you a view of the mountain," says Mario. Big western hotels were his inspiration. "When my family and I used to vacation in Colorado, we'd stay in great hotels, and I was always attracted to that warm, comfortable book," he says.
In decorating, Julie took advantage of the home's Western-lodge inspiration. The house also brims with whimsy. "We've collected a lot of things that are fun," she says. "We have a big moose head on the wall, and between the great room and the dining room stands a full-sized bear that we decorate for all seasons - he goes from a skier to a Pilgrim to Santa."
The couple's sense of humor extends to the pool table area in the loft, where they hung a copy of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" - with their own faces painted onto the classic farm couple's bodies.
In the great room, a large leather couch and a buffalo rug in front of the soaring manufactured-stone fireplace make for a comfortable hangout. Tucked into a bay window is one of the most popular areas of the house - a bar crafted from old barn board that features cowboy saddles for stools, a wine rack and a beer keg on tap.
All that fun has lured family and friends for frequent visits. "We have a huge extended family. Until we had this home, we never realized how many friends we had," Julie says with a laugh.
Home Away From Home The Galdis had considered a vacation home for several years, but it wasn't until the events of 9/11 that they decided they wanted a getaway to share with family. Windham, in New York's Catskill Mountains, was an ideal location, just an hour and 45 minutes from their home in New Jersey. And with 61 acres, there's plenty of room for dirt-biking, snowmobiling, skiing at nearby Windham Mountain and just hanging out. "It's close enough to be a year-round second home," says Mario. "Our 12-year-old son, Michael, is on the Windham Mountain ski team, and we're digging a pond so we can swim in the summer."
Although the Galdis were attracted to the look of full-round logs for their home, Mario, a mechanical contractor, also was interested in facilitating wiring and plumbing, often a challenge when walls are solid log. After attending numerous log shows and collecting an armoire full of log home magazines, he and Julie chose Expedition Log Homes as their log provider.
"Our half logs give the look of a full round log with butt and pass corners, and each log is individually hung on the wall," says Emilie Mahloch from Expedition. The Galdis chose 8-inch round cedar logs for the home's exterior. "The combination of log and conventional framing is incredibly energy-efficient," says Mario.
For the interior, the Galdis took an unusual approach. "As much as we like logs, we didn't want every room to look the same," says Mario. "So we used a blend of log styles. In some rooms we used timber log, 2-by-8-inch planks with hand-drawn edges, and spaced them about an inch and a quarter apart with chinking for decoration. As you walk from room to room, the backdrop changes and adds allure to each space."
Mario says he and Julie had so much fun building and decorating the house that they can't stop. Now they're putting up a barn alongside the house, complete with a gym. "With all this partying and eating," says Mario, "we've got to stay in shape." The entire top level of the barn will be one big room with bunk beds.
Sound like the recipe for a crowd? Mario and Julie think so - and they couldn't be happier.
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