Refuge in the Wilderness
Country's Best Log Homes - 2011 Annual Buyers Guide
The log home way of life is in the Sangmeisters' blood.
Charles grew up in Philadelphia with fond memories of vacationing
in a log home and never forgot the warm feeling it created.
Lana grew up in Montana and says log homes, along with the great
outdoors, are part of her heritage - her grandparents started their
family in a log home they built.
In 2000, the New Jersey couple took their first steps toward
making their lifelong dream a reality when they began to plan for
their new "working retirement" home - a log home in Lana's home
"We both knew we wanted a log home, but how to go about
purchasing one was daunting," says Lana. "We had gone to a
log home show and picked up some ideas, but were still unsure until
we met with Emilie Mahloch of Expedition Log Homes."
Emilie took a personal interest in guiding the Sangmeisters
through the planning process. "She took away our apprehension
about log-home building," recalls Lana. "We were intent on
having a home to withstand the rugged Montana temperatures while
being energy efficient and incorporating green building
principles." Their concerns were alleviated when they learned
about Expedition's insulated log wall construction.
"Our insulated wall system uses kiln-dried, heart-centered half
logs that attach to either side of an insulated wall," says
Emilie. "The Sangmeisters loved the look of logs that were
individually handcrafted with a drawknife and the full round
corners, which maintains the natural look of a log. Lana
especially liked the fact that she could choose where she wanted
log on the interior."
This log wall system had a further benefit when it came time to
adjust their plans along the way. "We learned that we
wouldn't be able to situate the fireplace in the corners of the
great room as planned," says Lana, "so we moved it to the center of
the room and it's perfect. If we had been building a full-log
home, we never would have been able to make such changes during
What was most important to the couple was providing unrestricted
views of Montana's Beartooth Mountains - no obstructed views with
posts or even a stairway. "I tried several different
arrangements in the great room, but Charles and Lana wanted as much
open space as possible," Emilie says, "They wanted their guests to
walk in the house and immediately be wowed with a view of the
mountains. We thought of bumping the stairs toward the front
of the two-story structure, and the turret was conceived."
The eye-catching turret, covered with architectural stone rather
than log, provides functional as well as visual interest: It
will serve as an elevator to the second floor in the future - a
nice amenity in a retirement home.
Every side of the home has a feature that mirrors the
Beartooth's landscape, from a covered open gable porch, to a loft
balcony, and triangular windows found at every gable.
Another small change was made with the size of certain
rooms. "all rooms were perfect in size, except for the master
bath design that the Sangmeisters had their hearts set on," says
Emilie, "I wanted in accommodate them without adding a lot of
additional square footage, so we bumped out the bath area a couple
of feet. To their amazement, this minimal change created
additional space in the first floor laundry and office, which they
The Sangmeisters wanted a gourmet kitchen to accommodate
Charles' culinary expertise (Lana acts as his sous chef).
They also planned for an area off the kitchen as a casual
dining/congregating area, which they call the Gathering Room.
Charles and Lana still wanted a formal dining room, which they
created with the placement of some cabinetry between the kitchen
and dining areas. To complete the first floor, the
Sangmeisters created an office off the foyer and the guest
bedroom with private bath.
The entire second level became a luxury master
suite. That included the loft space, where the Sangemisters
retreat to watch TV, read, or stargaze with their telescope.
Their bedroom has windows on two sides and some of the best
mountain views in the house. The enlarged master bath includes two
vanities, a spa tub, a glassed-in shower, a private water closet,
and a walk-in closet accessed through a full-length mirrored pocket
The basement level has a three-car garage. "The smaller
third stall houses our ATV," Lana says, "With a two -mile round
trip to the main road, we use it to retrieve our daily paper and
Building in this remote area could have been a challenge -
particularly since the Sangmeisters acted as their own general
contractors with local subcontractors - but the process went
"We started framing in October 2004, then had to pause for
hunting season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the new Year", Charles
says. "In the spring of 2005, we had a 100-year rainstorm
that caused flooding everywhere. Luckily, our home was high
enough that it was not a problem, but a dry creek bed on our
property swelled to several feet wide and deep and our construction
crew wasn't able to cross it. When the water finally started
to recede, I was able to bring the crew in, one at a time, on our
ATV. Even with these delays, we moved in to our home that
Named the Tadmor Springs (Tadmor has Biblical references and
means "Refuge in the Wilderness"), the Sangmeiseters are happy to
invite guests in to see the fruits of their labor.
The home, and its many unique features, went on to win a 2005
Excellence in Design award presented by the National Association of
Home Builders and the Log Homes Council.
seeing the Tadmor Springs floor plan? Clck here!