Home on the Ranch
Log Home Living - January 2011
Ever since he was five years old, Larry has lived on his
family's 80-acre ranch in east-central Oklahoma. When he and
Dana planned for their retirement, they saw no reason to move
anywhere else. They'd lived in the same home on the ranch for
some 25 years, but now they just wanted more space - and a log
home. "We had spent time in Colorado and Montana and thought
the log homes we had seen there were beautiful and would fit well
on our property," Larry recalls. "We began attending log-home
shows, talking with different log companies and comparing the
different styles of logs, from handcrafted to milled."
Because the couple planned to act as their general contractors
and builders, they were attracted to the half-log style, which
combines logs and conventional construction to boost energy
efficiency. "Even though we don't have the exceptionally cold
winters found in the northern states, we still have nights where
the temperature can dip into the 20s," Larry explains. "Our
summers are a different story, as we can have long stretches where
we are in the 100s with it only cooling off into the 80s at
With the home's 12-inch logs sandwiching an insulated 2-by-6
stud wall, the half-log system results in an exterior wall 18
inches thick - more than adequate to maintain a fairly even
internal temperature year round. "Also," Larry points out,"
"a conventionally built home is easier to install plumbing and
electrical wiring than full logs," Larry says.
Dana and Larry situated 4,005-square-foot home on the highest
point on the property. The spot also happens to be the
highest point for seven miles in any direction, providing a
360-degree panoramic view that includes the Quachita Mountains to
the south and the North Arkansas River Valley to the north.
Having settled on Expedition Log Homes to provide their
handcrafted half-logs, Larry drew the preliminary floor plans and
sent them to Expedition for final structural engineering
designs. "This home is an excellent example of how you can
aesthetically incorporate massive half-logs into an
energy-efficient structure," Jan Koepsell, co-owner of Expedition
relates. "It also shows how incorporating large expanses of
glass can result in a dramatic architectural statement.
Because the home is so beautiful and efficient, including the use
of space, we now include this custom home in our floor-plan options
and have named it the Poplar Bluff."
The plan included a two-story fireplace to serve as a visual
divider between the entry foyer and the great room and a covered
porch off the dining room. "Then we thought we might as well
screen it," Dana says. "Finally, we decided to completely
enclose it with windows that could be opened for ventilation.
Since it is on the south side of the home, this room now doubles as
both a sun room and a game room."
Larry and Dana worked together on the kitchen design. "We
wanted it roomy enough for friends and guests. Anyone who is
in the kitchen preparing food also can communicate with guests and
family members, since he or she has a full view of the great
room and dining room," Larry says.
Knowing they were going to be building, a new home,
Dana began acquiring antique pieces before they broke ground.
To these, she added almost all new furnishings, along with her
collection of Aladdin lamps, to create a Western lodge look.
From the moment the first shovel of dirt was turned until the
final coat of paint was applied, Dana and Larry were at the
building site overseeing the subcontractors and rolling up their
shirt sleeves to dig in. "We did all of the painting and
staining, and most of the log-work and trim," Larry notes.
When you have a home in a southern climate, the outdoor living
spaces are as equally important as the interior. Larry and
Dana added a balcony off the upstairs office and a large patio
surrounding their pool. For their lawn, they selected zoysia
grass because it is extremely drought-resistant, a major
consideration in a portion of the United States that averages less
than 50 inches of rainfall per year. Sharums Landscaping of
Fort Smith, Arkansas, planted holly around the end of the pool,
roses, crape myrtle trees, azaleas and magnolias to complement the
logs. "To add interest to the exterior, we asked the garage
door company to build the doors for the attached two-car garage
from the same tongue-and-groove, 6-inch pine we used in the
ceiling. This helps tie the interior and exterior of the home
together," Larry says.
"The home is a comfortable, relaxed living space with plenty of
room for our lifestyle," Dana observes. "All of the glass in
the home makes us feel like we are outdoors, even when we are