These 6 tips could be your recipe for success.
By Roland Sweet
People planning their log home’s interior layout often worry that the undertaking will involve greater challenges than for regular houses. It won’t. Log homes have the same rooms regular houses do, and you live in them the same way.
You may desire a dream kitchen as part of your dream home, but log or otherwise, kitchens boil down to refrigerators, sinks, cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting fixtures, stoves, appliances, storage space and elbow room. Maybe eating and seating room. And TV or not TV.
Although these ingredients constitute any kind of kitchen, log homes do have certain aspects that require additional planning. Here are areas to think about as you begin visualizing your kitchen.
Some folks want their logs to show through. Others avoid any trace of logs in the kitchen. How will your logs fit in, especially with floors, windows and any built-ins? If you forsake or cover up log walls, you can still define your kitchen as log by including log trusses overhead to support a peaked ceiling or log beams that support the upper-level loft. Logs go beyond looks. They shouldn’t intrude. Big round logs with over-sized cabinets attached can overwhelm smaller spaces. Flat-surface logs work well with cabinets. Round logs can easily handle cabinets, but they also merit free-standing cupboards or copious lower cabinets, supplemented by island storage and ideally a walk-in pantry.
Many log-home layouts connect the kitchen with the living room, dining room or both. Defining their different functions presents challenges. Dining and living spaces are easy to plan compared with kitchens. Kitchens work great when you’re fixing meals and want cook and guests to converse, but afterwards, visible dirty dishes might spoil the scene. You can’t hide your kitchen in an open layout, but you can distinguish it visually. Islands and breakfast bars do this job beautifully. Subtler cues are lofts above that lower the kitchen ceiling, a change of flooring material and log posts, structural or not, that mark the perimeter. A rare but effective tactic is to elevate the kitchen to turn it into a real command post. However you distinguish the space, it’ll borrow from and contribute to adjacent areas. Plan it accordingly, especially when it comes to sharing natural light.
Big windows and skylights can brighten your kitchen but only during daylight. Most time you’re cooking, it’ll be dark. Plus, logs absorb light. Aim it strategically. Type and placement of fixtures should ease the chores and accent the decor.
Most log homes are built off the beaten path, rarely near gourmet groceries and often not near any grocery. That means stocking up on provisions for long hauls, especially in snow country. Walk-in pantries are handy, especially if you’re figuring on fewer cabinets so as not to cover much log.
Kitchens require pipes and wires. They aren’t hard to install, but they require planning. If full logs surround your kitchen, this planning must be precise. Fortunately, the abundance of fixtures in kitchens conceals plumbing and electrical.
Because log homes are often the culmination of home ownership, people tend to live in them longer than in other homes. This fact requires specific planning. You’re wise to include universal design features, even if you’re young and fit. The home will accommodate you as you age and if you suffer a debilitating disease or injury in your prime. You also want to plan for not just all currently available appliances, but also ones you might conceivably add, whether for convenience or your new log-home lifestyle, and any not yet invented that might come along. Allow adequate electrical outlets and storage space, both atop counters and inside cabinets. After considering these six steps, you might still find yourself struggling to come up with a kitchen design that works for you and with logs. The best solution is to pay attention to photos of log-home kitchens to see what others have done that might make sense for your kitchen.
In homes with hand-hewn or hand-peeled logs, getting upper cabinets to hang level and square can be a challenge because of the irregular shape of the logs and their natural tendency to settle slightly after construction.
You can build a 2-by-4-inch stud wall next to the logs to block out the kitchen cabinets. It will provide a straight and level surface to hang the cabinets and allow for wall settling behind the cabinets and for a Formica or tile backsplash to be installed.
This method also provides a place for plumbing vents from the sink to the roof. If you’re planning on having logs in your kitchen, consider using Formica or tile between countertops and overhead cabinets, rather than log walls.
The logs may look better, but they can be difficult to keep clean and over time may become stained and dark from water, oil and grease. If you prefer to see logs all around your kitchen, a good builder ought to be able to attach your cabinets directly to the log walls without problems. Many other options for concealing water lines and vent pipes are available.