Log Home Design - October 2007
Families are like snowflakes: No two are exactly the same. So why should your floorplan be identical to the Jones' down the road? After all, what's ideal for one family might result in utter chaos for another. But don't think that means you need to spend the time or the money on a custom design for your log home - you just need to find a stock plan that fits your family's needs best. Most log home providers allow you to make alterations and customize a standard plan so it fits your needs completely.
Take the "Maplecreek," one of Oostburg, Wisconsin - based Expedition Log Homes' most popular plans. The Expedition team has seen countless renditions and modifications to it over the years, and in this story, you'll meet four families who chose the design as their starting point. Though each began with the same floorplan, you'll see that the end result is four very different log homes, all fitting their owners to a T.
About the Original
What makes the "Maplecreek" plan so popular? "It has a great look." Explains Sue Hass, a sales representative for Expedition. "People like the gable dormers, open floorplan and the sunroom. The porch also gives the home some extra pizzazz. The plan fits the picture of what most people think of as their dream log home."
With 2,424 square feet of living space, the versatile stock plan feels more spacious than its square footage suggests and boasts open flow within a functional design. The main level is home to the shared great room, kitchen and dining area, as well as to two bedrooms, a bath, the spacious pantry and a utility room. The octagonal sunroom is a focal point, which sits off the dining room, while the upstairs is reserved for the master suite and an open loft.
"The private master bedroom is on the second floor and the extra loft space can be used either as an extra sitting area or office," says Sue. "Yet the plan is adaptable to many different lifestyles. For example, a homeowner could change the plan by swapping the bedrooms, with the master suite on the first floor, putting two bedrooms, a bath and loft on the second."
Although the plan is appealing as is, many customers modify it to suit their specific needs.
"Individuality is the key," explains Sue. "Most people choose something they'd like to tweak a bit."
The great thing is, with log construction you can alter to your heart's content.
Case Study #1: The Albares Home, Emily, Minnesota
Paul and Nancy Albares always loved the idea of a log cabin, so when it came to choose a home for their lakefront property, going log was a no-brainer.
Why They Chose the Plan:
"We liked the look of it," reveals Nancy. "One side of the house was nearly all windows, which we thought would be perfect for looking out onto the lake. We also liked the front porch, and we felt the plan really fit the waterfront location. The home looks like it's been here a long time."
What They Changed:
Since Paul and Nancy have three sons, they needed more bedrooms than the plan called for. So, in lieu of the large second-floor master bedroom, the couple created two bedrooms upstairs. On the main level, they kept two bedrooms but rearranged the space a bit, eliminating the pantry and elongating the home to accommodate a larger utility room. They also opted for a square-shaped covered deck in place of the octagonal sunroom and put the fireplace on a flat wall instead of in the corner.
As for the sunroom, Nancy felt the additional labor required to construct it would blow their budget, plus it would impact the home's distance from the lake. "The codes in our area dictate a home must be 75 feet from the water, and since the sunroom sticks out so much in the plan, our actual house would have to be set back even farther," explains Nancy.
Favorite Feature: "We really love the outdoor space, especially the big, long deck in front," says Nancy.
Future Plans: "We plan to screen in the porch on the back, and we're still working on finishing the inside of the home," shares Nancy.
Case Study #2: The Campagna Home, Lawrence, Michigan
With one log home already under their belt, Sal and Denise Campagna knew what they were looking for when they set out to build their dream retreat on a 10-acre apple orchard.
Why They Chose the Plan:
"We were drawn to the idea of the great room, kitchen and dining area being open to each other," recalls Sal. "In our previous log home, the great home and kitchen were separated by a wall."
What They Changed:
The core elements of the original plan stayed the same, but the Campagnas chose to add an attached garage and a finished basement, and they bumped out the front door to create a foyer area. On the first floor, the couple decided to go with one bedroom instead of two, plus they made sure the doorways were 3 feet wide, so they'd be wheelchair accessible in the future. They also flipped the floorplan to better suit their lot. "We went for a mirror image so that we could capture the views of our orchard," explains Sal.
They also decided to orient the stairs differently "Inside, we changed the staircase's angle so that we could accommodate a grand piano," says Sal. "The stairs in the original plan took up a good portion of the room."
The second floor still houses the master suite, but they reduced the size of the bath so they could expand the loft. Outside, they opted for an 8-foot-wide deck instead of the standard 6-foot-wide design.
Favorite Feature: "The best feature is the octagonal sunroom," gushes Sal, noting that they added an elevated deck off the space.
Future Plans: "We may move our master bedroom to the first floor someday," Sal says. And with the modified second master suite downstairs, there's no reason not to.
Case Study #3: The Hamilton Home, Dowagic, Michigan
From the time he was a small boy playing with Lincoln Logs, Ken Hamilton was drawn to the cabin look. So it's no surprise that he chose logs for his lakeside weekend retreat.
Why He Chose the Plan:
"Since my property is on a lake, I was drawn to all of the windows and the sunroom," recalls Ken. "I could just picture the home on this setting - I knew it would blend well with the surroundings. I like the flexibility of it; you can do what you want with it to make it your own.
What He Changed:
Ken reversed the original plan, swapping the location of the living room/kitchen/dining area with the bedrooms. "I flip-flopped the layout so that he living room would face out to the water," explains Ken. "I just played around with it for a while and determined what would work best for me." He also opted for just one bedroom (the master) on the main floor instead of two, and he changed the location of the fireplace. He also enlarged the downstairs bath, and eliminated the pantry and large utility room.
The second-level master suite was nixed so Ken could enjoy two-story ceilings in his great room, dining room and kitchen. Instead of the winding staircase in the standard plan, Ken stacked the downstairs and upstairs staircases to save space and make the rooms feel even larger.
Favorite Feature: "The sunroom has become the main gathering spot," says Ken. "I would make it even larger if I could."
Future Plans: "The home is flexible enough that I can add onto it later if I want," says Ken. "Maybe I'll add another bedroom and bath off the back."
Case Study #4: The Vogel Home, Wyndham, New York
David Vogel had been thinking about living in a log home for 15 years before he took the plunge in the rural Catskill Mountains of upstate New York.
Why He Chose the Plan:
"I loved how the design fit on the property," says David. "I really liked the dormers on the front, and I liked that the plan is just the right size - not too big and not too small."
What He Changed:
David took out the sunroom, and introduced an attached garage and cantilevered porch off of the second-floor loft. Other changes included adding a fireplace to the master bedroom; building a finished basement with an additional bath; incorporating 9-foot ceilings throughout the home; and creating a sunken living room, (In retrospect, David admits he wouldn't have done this, since it interrupts the flow of space and makes it feel smaller.)
The second-floor master bath was reconfigured to make way for a corner tub and an additional sink and vanity. David also incorporated outdoor balconies off of two rooms on the second floor. "I changed the elevation because the original design was a little square. This gives it more dimension," he says.
Favorite Feature: "I just love the great flow," says David. "The house is so open, but it still has a warm, cozy feel."
Future Plans; David just built a 40-by-30 foot barn on the property. "It's used for storing my toys right now," he says with a laugh, "but maybe it will be used for animals someday."
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