Guitars & Good Times: A Log Home in New Mexico

A New Mexico home inspires a Texas family to celebrate their mountain getaway through song.

Whenever Steve and Janna Lankford visit their New Mexico log home, it's not unusual to find them sitting on the front porch, surrounded by friends and family—and singing at the top of their lungs. It starts out simple: One person strums a guitar, someone else pulls out a harmonica, others start clapping, and before long, a full-scale hootenanny is under way.

Exterior of the Southwestern Lodge

This kind of casual family gathering is exactly what the Lankfords had in mind when they began searching for a vacation home in Ruidoso, a mountain resort town in southern New Mexico. The region's fragrant pine forests and clear skies felt like a world apart from their normal lives in Houston, Texas, where Steve works for British Petroleum and Janna works as a school teacher. "We stopped in Ruidoso on a vacation about three years ago," Steve recalls, "and we loved how cool and refreshing it was there. There was a full moon rising, and the sky was full of stars."

After about a year of house hunting, the Lankfords purchased Panther Lodge, a previously owned home designed by West Coast Log Homes of Gibsons, British Columbia. The Lankfords were immediately impressed by the sheer size of the logs, which are nearly 3 feet in diameter. "The cabin is a work of art," says Janna. "The first time I saw it, I felt like I was in the Louvre in Paris."

With its 28-foot ceiling, the living room feels both snug and spacious, boasting comfortable furniture and distinctive Southwestern decor.

The Western red cedar logs used in all West Coast Log Homes are hand-picked and pressure-washed to remove the bark, which gives the wood an attractive high-gloss finish, according to Kuna Sekaren, manager of the company.

Panther Lodge was built in the classic full-scribe style, with exposed logs stacked horizontally and notched at the corners, and each consecutive piece marked or "scribed" to ensure an exact fit. "It's an intricate process," Kuna says. "The joinery is detailed, and the logs fit like a glove."

The bedrooms in Panther Lodge are cozy and comfortable, which is an attractive selling point to vacationers who may rent the property when the Lankfords are not using it. The family hopes to spend even more time at the house in the future.

Panther Lodge packs a lot of living into 2,000 square feet, including three bedrooms, two baths, a loft and a laundry room. T he kitchen and dining areas open to the great room, which boasts a 28-foot ceiling and a distinctive carved panther that gives the house its name. West Coast often works with wood carvers and other artisans to craft signature pieces to make each house special.
The carved panther is a signature element—West Coast Log Homes often works with wood carvers and other artisans to create a unique piece for each home they build—and how the home got the name "Panther Lodge."

"The front porch is still my favorite place," Janna says. "It's where guitars are played, and where we can view deer and elk."

The Lankfords make the 12-hour drive to Ruidoso at least four times a year, sometimes joined by their three grown children and other family and friends. Recently, they offered their minister and his wife a vacation at Panther Lodge as a gesture of gratitude for his service, and they work with Condotel, a Ruidoso property management company, to rent out the house when they're not using it. In a few years, the Lankfords hope to retire and spend even more time at their mountain getaway. Until then, they have memories to tide them over. "When I'm stuck in Houston traffic," Janna says, "I think of Panther Lodge and it gives me peace."    

Home Plan Details:

Square Footage: 2,000

Log Company: West Coast Log Homes