Heartland Classic

Log Home Living - July 2005

If your vision of Iowa includes frame farmhouses surrounded by waving cornfields, it's time to put on new glasses.  Ho, you'll drive through plenty of cornstalks to get to the house Jim and Kita Goodson share with their kids Josh and Meg in Van Meter, Iowa.  But the land rolls and rises in this area 20 miles west of Des Moines, and tucked down a hill, at the edge of an 80-acre stand of timber, is a surprise:  a log home as authentic as any you'd find in the Rocky Mountains.

Big Sky 04"Log homes are cropping up all over the place here," says Jim, whose family has lived on the 140-acre farm (in a frame farmhouse) since the first settlers arrived in Iowa.  "People see them and decided they like them."

Jim and Kita took the inspiration for their log home from their timeshare in Colorado.  But somehow, sheltered among the oak and hickory trees at the edge of a cornfield, the handsome three-story house looks right at home.

Half Logs for the Whole House
Because they loved the rustic look, Jim and Kita initially wanted their home built with full-round logs.  "our only hesitation was that full-log homes had to be built on jacks with brackets to enable cabinets, doors and windows to move as the logs shift." Says Kita.  But answering a newspaper ad led them to Expedition Log Homes based in Oostburg.  Wisconsin and the concept of half-log construction.

"Our half-logs have a full-round profile that's about 4 to 5 inches thick," says Expedition representative Doug Pooch, whose company Cabin Fever Construction in Waukee, Iowa, built the Goodson's home.  "You get the look of a full log, complete with full-round butt-and-pass corners, but we attach a half log to the exterior of a 2-by-6 studded frame.  On the interior, the half logs can be placed anywhere you'd like."

The Goodsons chose rustic hand-drawn pine logs for the exterior and, with a few exceptions, on most interior walls.  In order to keep the finish light, they chose a clear sealant.  "We talked a lot about how the logs would look as they started to season," says Jim.  "We didn't want them to darken a lot over time."

Big Sky 13Beauty on Budget
Upon entering the house, the great room, with its flagstone floor, is a stunning focal point.  A two-story wall of mullioned windows floods the room with light.  "The flagstone floor makes it look like you've walked into a ski loge in Colorado," Kita says.  The illusion is enhanced by a 26-foot chimney made from Cultured Stone over the fireplace.  "the stones are molded concrete, but they really look and feel like the real thing," says Jim.  "that kept the cost down without sacrificing the look."  The manufactured stone also is used for the kitchen island, on the wet bar in the basement and on the seamless exterior of the walkout basement.

To further keep costs down but also retain the warm look of wood, the couple chose laminate flooring in an oak style with a slight texture.  "We achieved the look of real wood floors without the expense," says Jim.  "It looks real and is easy to care for."

In the year before they moved in, Jim and Kita collected furniture from as far away as Oregon and Minnesota, often toting it on the bed of a rented truck.  "We pieced it all together," says Kita.  "We didn't have a lot of help and we were kind of second-guessing ourselves all the time, wondering if things were going to work, but it all come together."  Over the years, they had also been purchasing art at auctions.  "It was in storage for a long time, but now it's found a happy home," says Kita.  "It looks just right on the log walls."

A sprinkling of antiques ties the Goodson's new log home to the old family farmhouse, recalling the years Jim's family has lived on the land.  "We have a lot of things from the old farm - a secretary in the great room and old dishes," says Jim.  "In the sunroom, I have an old butter churn and the cowbell that my mom used to get us kids to come inside.  In the family room, we have some antique black kettles that we used to use."

It appears that, although the style has changed, the family farmstead has a stronghold on the younger generation, too.  Fourteen-year-old Josh loves the log house.  "he says he loves the place so much, he's never moving out," notes Kita.  "he's' going to live here forever."

Interested in seeing the Big Sky floor plan?  Click here!

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