Log Home Design - May 2007
Barbara Callahan will never forget the day she moved into her
log home - her first child was born the very next night.
She and her husband, Matt, had been living in a trailer on their
Pennsylvania property for nearly six years, so when they got the
go-ahead from their builder to make the move, they didn't
hesitate. At nine months pregnant, Barbara didn't sleep well
that first evening, but she didn't let it taint her opinion
of the house. "At least I got to sleep one night in our
new home," says Barbara, laughing. "It really has such a
cozy, homey feeling. We had purchased 30 acres of wooded
land, and a log home just seemed like a perfect fit."
Located in a quiet town an hour north of Pittsburgh, the 2,704
-square-foot home is built into a small hill creating a functional
walkout basement. The Callahans designed the floorplan
themselves, craving an easy flow for entertaining and a comfortable
ambiance. But they didn't do it alone.
After researching local log dealers, the Callahans decided to go
with Dave and Sally Mitchell of nearby New Castle, representatives
for Oostburg, Wisconsin -based Expedition Log Homes. From
there, the company helped the couple transform their design ideas
into a workable plan.
"The floorplan is a basic ranch-style home with a loft," says
Jan Koepsell, co-owner of Expedition. "We helped Barbara and
Matt customize the design, and we now offer it - titled "The
Callahan" - as one of our stock plans."
The representatives from Expedition also recommended a local
Amish building crew, led by Sam Byler of New Wilmington, to take on
the building project. "Sam and his crew were just amazing,"
says Barbara. "though they spoke Pennsylvania Dutch to each
other and didn't own phones or cars, we were able to communicate
very easily face-to-face. They did really great work."
Since Barbara and Matt served as their own general contractors,
they were involved with every stage of the project. "Just
staying on top of it was a challenge," recalls Barbara. "It
took a lot of organization to keep it going, but Sam was a big help
Once all of the plans were finalized, Sam and his crew got to
work constructing the couple's half-log home. "The package we
provided features 8-inch Northern white pine," explains Jan.
"Both the interior and the exterior are clad in true half logs,
with full-log corners that are pre-notched in the butt-and-pass
versatility to the design, Barbara and Matt incorporated sections
of drywall in parts of the home, including the kitchen, dining area
and bedrooms, but used log trim in those rooms to continue the log
look. Decorative dormers help preserve the elegant log home
façade, while a functional layout captures the casual charm of log
And while Expedition produces over 40 log homes each year, the
Callahan home has something you don't see every day: a
matching log doghouse and shed, each covered with thick half-log
siding. "It's a great place for their dogs to hang out," says
In the end, the Callahans were rewarded with a house they are
proud to call home. They have hosted many large gatherings
there, but it's the simple, everyday moments that they cherish the
most. "My favorite time is when it's dark out and snowing,"
says Barbara. "We just sit with our family and look out the
front windows to see the lights from the living room and loft
reflecting on the snow." And, just like the first night in
their home, it's moments like these that become lasting log home
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