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.
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
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
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."