North Woods Haven
Country's Best Log Homes - September 2002
To Mark and Teresa, family is everything. With five
children and one on the way, the two have built their lives around
the notion of living life to the fullest with everyone in tow.
Mark, a physician, and Teresa, a full-time mom, were humming
along nicely tucked into their suburban life near Sheboygan,
Wisc. "Yes, we lived in a very nice ranch house on a cul de
sac, but I had always wanted a log home," says Mark.
The desire to live in a log home probably stemmed from the
couple's three-year experience living in Denver, Colo. "Being
in the Rockies afforded us the opportunity to experience the beauty
of the environment. I think we just wanted to duplicate that
type of lifestyle," says Mark.
When Mark's job took them to the woods of Wisconsin instead of
the mountains of Colorado, fishing and cross-country skiing would
have to replace rock climbing for the time being.
As the family of five continued to grow, it was apparent that
the burgeoning brood was busting at the seams in their ranch
home. They decided it was time to start looking for
allocation to build. "Our next-door neighbor John Zelm was a
builder and happened to mention that Oostburg-based Expedition Log
Homes wasn't far and was worth a look." Mark adds, "John had sold
us our first ranch house and we trusted him implicitly."
Teresa and Mark searched for over a year for a perfect spot to
build. One Sunday, an ad came up in the local real estate
section of their paper. "Ten acres, stream, woods, secluded area,"
that's all it said. Once they arrived, they knew this lovely
piece of property would afford them a taste of the outdoors, yet
was close enough to the hospitals for Mark. "Actually it was
already a development that included city sewer and water just a bit
farther out than we expected," says Mark. But they shrugged
off the distance and made an offer; they bought the property and
haven't looked back since.
Proceeding with plans to build a log home, the couple pieced
their dream home together on graph paper and took their ideas to
the Expedition offices.
Craig Seider, Expedition's Director of Design Services, met with
Teresa and Mark and everyone hit it off right from the start.
Mark admits that he was a bit more enamored of log homes than
Teresa, but one thing they both agreed on was that they wanted a
big house. Explains mark, "We're seven and growing.
We're always having people over, whether it's our families or
friends, so we needed space for them. And with five kids
everything's always in motion.
we designed for this family was a two-story, approximately 6,000
square-foot log home using standing dead 12-inch (diameter) lodge
pole pine throughout," says Seider. "We all decided on a
traditional Swedish cope with saddle-notched corners." The
walls are actually made of standard 2-by-6 stud framing, packed
with insulation. The lodge pole pine logs are split down the
middle - except at the corners - and attached to exterior and
interior. It is a building technique popular in the
"We wanted a very open two-story house with the kitchen, great
room, dining and master bedroom all on the first floor," says
mark. Front and back staircases lead to the upstairs where
Seider designed a loft adjoining two bedrooms: one for the
girls, one for the boys.
The foundation was poured in February 2001. When the first
of two semi trucks pulled up the next month, Mark and Teresa's
neighbor and builder John Zelm and his five-man crew were ready to
stack the materials and erect the house.
"John was terrific. Having worked on logs before, he knew
that if something wasn't right, he'd start over. He would
give us assignments," Mark laughs. "He'd say, 'Here's your
next task, go pick out flooring, or go pick out lights.' It was all
very systematic, with our goal to be moved in by Memorial Day
The building process went smoothly with few hitches. The
completion date to move in by May 2001 was on target. "Teresa
and the kids visited the building site routinely - the kids were
actually getting a pretty good education watching the house
progress," admits Mark.
"Because the family wanted a room-to-room concept with few
hallways, we designed the house in a 'Y' shape," says Seider.
"It was fine with them to have the house built with a plain front
façade. Then we could emphasize the back of the house with
banks of thermal double-pane windows opening onto the woods
beyond. Since 80 percent of our designs are custom,
accommodating the homeowner's plan wasn't difficult."
"For example," continues Seider, "Mark and Teresa wanted a
28-foot cathedral ceiling in the great room. It was designed
so everyone could enjoy the expansive views out the back from
either the first floor or the second story loft. To accent
the dynamic vault, two 25-foot trusses were made to span across the
aspen wood ceiling."
Teresa points out that "the original great room design had a
number of dead spaces. Then John suggested we make a gable
running from front to back. This would both simplify the
roofline and make the whole more energy efficient and cost
effective." Mark and Teresa estimate their average monthly
winter heating bill to be around $138.00.
"Because of the height of the room, a veneer of river rock was
applied to the fireplace," says Mark. "Had we used real
stone, the walls and flooring would have had to have been
Even though the family uses their fireplace, the home is heated
in six zones with two forced-air furnaces. "We put
high-density insulation in between the ceiling and roof so that the
36 R-value is maintained," says Seider. Additionally, there's
six inches of insulation in the walls between the log walls
yielding an R 19 to keep this house warm in the winter and cool in
Stained a very pale honey color throughout, the home is accented
with a very functional kitchen featuring a "U-shaped,
granite-wrapped island. Everyone pulls up a chair in the
morning because Mark likes to cook breakfast.
Between meals, the kids are content to pile into
the downstairs walkout basement. Here, it's toy central where
the kids can play to their heart's content. The basement is
also large enough to accommodate a spare bedroom and bath for
When it's time for bed or just a bit of time-out, the kids go
upstairs where the carpeted loft outfitted with a computer adjoins
two expansive bedrooms. "Everyone has their bunk (or will
have as they grow into it) and putting the boys together in one
room and the girls in another is our way of teaching, sharing and
caring," says Mark.
To supplement his passion for working with his hands, Mark
retires to his workroom under the three-car garage where he enjoys
building wood projects. "I had to have another hobby to
replace rock climbing when we left the mountains, so now I build
tables, chests and bookshelves," Mark proudly admits.
Teresa and Mark currently enjoy all the extra space their home
affords. "I'm actually a minimalist so the house isn't
fussy. Five kids fill up the space pretty quickly," says
The overall tone of the house is soothing and comfortable.
The couple chose bird's-eye maple with a clear polyurethane coat
for all the hardwood flooring, which stretches through most of the
house. In the kitchen, a monochromatic color scheme
dominates, accented only by the flecked granite countertops.
In the main living areas, decorative highlights combine texture and
good looks. The living room features cushy leather couches
for relaxation. All hardware on knobs and pulls is stylish
No treatments cover the windows. At most, there are slim
shades enclosed in the windows for privacy; otherwise the windows
are bare, allowing maximum sun exposure. "It's a holdover
from our days in Colorado where we saw lots of sun," says
In this family happy with their home? "You bet," says
Mark" "The staff at Expedition was great to work with and
Craig Seider now considers us like family."
"Now, if you'll excuse me,' the man of the house says, "I have
to go build a tree house."