Permanent Vacation

Log Homes Illustrated - May 2007

Anyone who relocates from the Chicago suburbs to a small, rural community in southwestern Michigan has to be a nature lover and a fan of four seasons.  And that is just how Frank and Dottie Petriko describe themselves, having sold their travel agency and taken the plunge to move to Dewey Lake after spending summer vacations there for more than 30 years.

Sleepy Hollow2527Several years ago, we purchased a lot with a small cottage and 75 feet of frontage on Dewey Lake," Dottie says.  "As we began discussing our retirement plans, I proposed the idea to Frank that perhaps we ought to move the cottage and build a log home.  I didn't have to ask him twice."

The couple spent the next year researching log-home companies.  After weighing the pros and cons of full-log and half-log homes, they decided on the latter, thus narrowing the field.  "One day we were out driving, and I saw a sign that read, 'If you love log homes, call 1-800-LUVLOGS.'  The phone number turned out to be Expedition Log Homes - one of the companies we had been considering," Dottie recalls.

Acting on this coincidence, Frank went online to find the manufacturer's representatives in southwest Michigan and came up with the name Sal Campagna.  Suspecting another coincidence, Frank phoned Sal and discovered that he was the same person Frank once worked for in Chicago.  The Petrikos made an appointment with Sal and his wife Denise, who explained about the company and took them on a tour of homes.

Once Frank and Dottie made the decision, time was of the essence.  They so cherish their summers at Dewey Lake that they didn't want to miss one day of the season because of construction.  When they insisted that the entire project had to be completed between Labor Dan and Memorial Day, Sal recommended Tom Pursley from Pursley construction Company in Paw-Paw, Michigan.  Tom assured the Petrikos that he could meet their deadline.

We have to admit that we were fairly clueless about log-home construction and would only be at the site once a week," Dottie says.  "That is why it was so important for us to have someone who was knowledgeable and who would solicit our input.  Tom was just the perfect fit."

Dottie relates that many of the subcontractors went above and beyond to assure the project would be completed on schedule.  For example, Mike Boyer of Lakeside Painting in Paw-Paw took the knotty pine tongue-and-groove paneling and stained it in his workshop so there wouldn't be any delays when it was ready to be installed.

Frank and Dottie selected one of Expedition's standard floor plans but made several modifications to the 2,456 square foot home.  For instance, because they planned to live there well into their golden years, they situated all of the living space they would need for themselves on the first floor:  the great room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and bath and laundry.  One of the changes was to expand the master bath and divide it so each would have individual space.  Frank's portion also is available to guests to use as a powder room.

The upper level contains two bedrooms, each with an attached bath, for the couple's two children, Jennifer and Mark, and their families, including spouses and grandchildren.  They also added an office space and a place for an entertainment center on either side of the loft sitting area.  "We would have loved to have a basement," Frank says, "However, because of the close proximity to the lake and the high water table, this wouldn't have been possible without raising the house considerably, and we didn't want high foundation walls.  Therefore, we built on a slab with a 4-foot crawl space."

Although the couple had the existing cottage moved, they retained the old barn that had been on the property when they purchased it.  Someday they intend to clad the barn with log siding, but for now they repainted it to match the house and converted it to an oversized two=car garage with sufficient space for their snowmobiles.

Sleepy Hollow2534As Tom promised, the Petrikos' log home was completed by Memorial Day.  The new owners kicked off their summer by moving in the furniture and memorabilia they had acquired over their years traveling the world together.  To achieve the fishing-lodge look the desired, they added waterfowl artwork, including four papier-mâché geese they purchased at a going-out-of-business sale.  "Dottie is a former home economics teacher and has taken several interior design classes," Frank says.  "She did a wonderful job in decorating our new home."

Over the years, Frank and Dottie have made many friends at Dewey Lake, several of whom followed their example and made their retirement homes there.  The couple enjoys entertaining, especially hosting theme parties.

When Frank isn't fishing for bigmouth bass, he and Dottie might spend the day making their own wine or volunteering at a nearby therapeutic horseback riding school.  Here, they lead the horses or are side walkers for physically and mentally challenged children and young adults.

Now that Frank and Dottie are able to devote their time to what they enjoy, they are finding life at Dewey Lake quite relaxing.  In fact, their lot on the quiet cove bears the legal description of "Sleepy Hollow" - a name that describes how they feel living there.  Perhaps not coincidentally, Expedition Log Homes replaced the plan that Frank and Dottie selected with their revised version, naming it the Sleepy Hollow.

The couple was delighted to learn that Log Homes Illustrated planned to feature their home but somewhat surprised.  "We thought only the most expensive homes made it into the magazines," she says.  "But our experience proves you don't have to be a millionaire to have a log home.  We found this has been no more costly then building a traditional brick home."

She adds:  "We love the earthiness of a log home.  This truly is our dream home."

Interested in seeing the Sleepy Hollow floor plan?  Click here!

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