Traditional Look, Traditional Approach
Country's Best Log Homes - May 2007
What does it take to make a modern look with a touch of rustic
tradition from traditional plans and by using traditional research
methods? If you're Daphne and Tim Livingstone, it takes more
than 25 years of planning and effort.
Livingstone log home near Perryopolis, Pennsylvania, first appeared
on the couple's radar shortly after they were married. "I
introduced the idea of a log home to Tim in 1980," Daphne
says. "At that time I though it was something we would do for
retirement and it was put on the back burner. It came up
again when we purchased two lots in the country about 20 years
ago." That's when the couple began researching log homes in
"It was more of a chore back then," says Daphne. "Twenty
years ago, there was no internet, so it was a matter of getting
catalogs through the mail and pondering things."
The Livingstones spent time visiting log home models in their
area and attending log home shows. "I had a two-foot high
stack of all the catalogs I sent for and all the magazines I
bought," Daphne remembers. "To organize the whole
thing, I got myself a great big scrapbook and started clipping our
pictures - views, dormers, front porches - and putting it all into
my scrapbook. I think when you've dreamed about something for
so long, you've got some pretty clear mental pictures."
Daphne calls their choice of a log home company "a matter of
fate or providence or God's leading." She studied the back
pages of log home magazines and found a phone number for Dave and
Sally Mitchell, authorized representatives of Expedition Log
Homes. When she called, she learned that Dave Mitchell was
planning to visit the county fair in her hometown. "I went to
the fair, got the literature, and was almost sold from the start,"
She and Tim are happy with the home Expedition provided
them. "Their concept was what we were interested in - a
regular two-by-six studded home with log on the inside and
outside," Daphne says. "I really like that idea because I
know that between me and Mother Nature are 13 ½ inches of good,
solid insulation - including logs - and that really impresses
Their 2,700 square-foot home has eight-inch white
pine logs with standard butt-and-pass corners. "I call that
house two houses in one," says Mitchell, "because the front is so
conservative with a Cape Cod look, and yet from the back it has the
much more modern, attention-getting stance with those trapezoid
windows flanking the chimney on either side." Indeed, Daphne
says many people have asked why they didn't turn the house around
on their lot.
The folks at Expedition Log Homes were so impressed with the
couple's floor plan that they asked them to name it, and the plan
is now in the company's plan book. "[The Livingstone] has
been a key house for us," Mitchell says. "We've shown it to
so many people, and it's in all our company literature."
The Livingstones chose Roy Horrell as their general
contractor. He and Tim went to high school and played
football together. "This was the first log home he ever
built," says Tim, "but his track record as a builder was
excellent." Tim and Daphne were more than pleased with
Horrell's work, and Horrell enjoyed the project so much that he's
eager to tackle another log home. "I've built over 300
homes," says Horrell, "and building that log home was like being a
little kid again. It was a lot of fun."
Although the couple didn't do any of the actual construction
work themselves, they put considerable sweat equity into the
project. Their son Timbo, friends and other family members
spent hours clearing the lot in preparation for building the
home. They did all interior painting and staining, and last
summer, with the help of Tim's Uncle Ed, they refinished the entire
exterior of the home with Sikkens "Natural Light." "Looking
at the house now, it seems to glow," says Daphne. "It's very
beautiful. Tim just stood back and smiled when he watched the
rain beating off it."
Daphne had a long wish list of features she wanted to include in
her dream home. She always envisioned a long, rustic front
porch where she could sit in her rocking chair and watch the day
pass by. She loved the idea of dormers, and she knew she
wanted the center one slightly larger than those on either
side. She felt they needed a huge back deck to accommodate
their family, and she wanted a bump-out bathroom. "Soaking in
that tub with the morning sun shining in is such a welcoming way to
start the day," Daphne says.
At first she thought she'd like the coziness of a standard
height ceiling in every room, but their plan ended up "as open as
you can get" with high cathedral ceiling in the living room.
Now she likes the fact that she can be anywhere in the house and
still be connected. "I can be in the kitchen and holler clear
up over the loft into my son's bedroom to make sure he's down in
time for dinner," Daphne says. A laundry chute in Timbo's
upstairs bedroom does double duty as the house intercom. Tim
convinced Daphne to incorporate the tiny powder room off the front
entry so guests didn't need to walk through bedrooms to reach a
The Livingstones didn't consciously plan for all the angles in
their roof system, but they're happy with the interest they add to
the house. They definitely wanted the large tie beams that
cross the living room, but the original plan also called for
decorative V-beams above them. Horrell took them up into the
loft one day and asked them to look toward the fireplace. He
wondered whether they really wanted to obstruct the view with more
logs. They opted to eliminate the V-beams.
A massive fireplace of cultured stone that soars 22 feet is the
focal point of the living room, the family's favorite gathering place. Daphne and Tim excluded a
family room from their floor plan so that everyone would spend time
together in the living room.
The fireplace has a heatilator that blows warm air into the
house, and ceiling fans help circulate it supplementing the heat
from their propane forced air furnace. "We've been able to
reduce our heating costs pretty significantly on a monthly basis by
doing that," says Daphne. And because of the home's
extra-thick walls, Daphne is convinced that they are heating the
house rather than the whole outdoors.
Daphne covered the floors in the foyer, kitchen and powder room
with ceramic tile for easy cleanup, but she chose 8-inch
tongue-and-groove oak flooring for much of the living area over the
objections of their builder. "Everyone told her that it would
warp and cup, but she insisted," says Mitchell, "and I'm so glad
she prevailed. It is one of the finest floors I've seen in
any of our homes anywhere." Horrell's crew fastened the
flooring with nails and adhesive to ensure the planks wouldn't
The house was Daphne's dream, but Tim was behind her 100% and is
proud of the finished product. "It's not a run-of-the-mill
home," he says. "When my son and I are out working in the
yard, people will slow up and ask to see the inside. It makes
you feel good."
Daphne is content, too. "This house has been in my head
for so many years that when it finally became a reality I knew this
is where I wanted to be for the duration. I expect to live
out my days here."