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."Poplar Bluff7576

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 night.

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.

Poplar Bluff7581Knowing 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 inside."

Interested in seeing the Poplar Bluff floor plan?  Click here!

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