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Making a Luxury Log Home on a Budget

If the phrase “champagne taste on a beer budget” means something to you, take heart. We’ve got a few tricks that will quench your thirst to bring a little luxury to your log home.

Written by Janice Brewster

 
Log homes are for everyone — not just the rich and famous. If photos of over-the-top showplace houses spark envy instead of joy for you, take heart. Many high-end amenities can be replicated within real-life, normal-people budgets. Here are a few ways you can bring home a little luxury for less.
 

Freestanding soaking tubs are the “it” feature in today’s master baths, but they can come at a hefty price. Shop around for the best bargain. To keep the savings coming, choose inexpensive, timeless chrome for your faucets and fittings.
 
 

1 . Freestanding Tubs Aren’t Free

Nothing says high-end spa like a glamorous tub for your master bath, but you could spend thousands on the tub itself (not to mention the fixtures). Your inner bathing beauty will be delighted to learn that less-expensive versions are readily available — and only you will know the difference. You can find tubs that offer plenty of immersive capacity and a design you prefer (whether it’s for one person or two) right around the $700 mark. It’s easy to blow the budget on faucets and fittings, too. Just remember that chrome is typically the least expensive finish. Fortunately, it’s also easy to clean and provides timeless appeal
 

2 . The Not-So-Built-In

For both style and function, built-in cabinets, shelves and storage are at the top of homeowner wish lists. Built from scratch on site and completely customized, built-ins don’t come cheap. Fortunately, with modular furniture systems and stock cabinetry, you can have the same functionality and achieve a high-end look for a whole lot less. Take the mudroom, for instance: While built-in lockers with shelving and doors are nice, you can create storage with units from Home Depot, Pottery Barn, IKEA or other mass retailers. Design tip: If you already know you’ll take this route at the beginning of your home project, you could design your mudroom to make a ready-made system fit perfectly and look built-in. The same is true for bookcases or other shelving units throughout your house.   
 
 
 

Get the high-end look for less by limiting handcrafted logs to design details, like the character logs used to trim out this cased opening.
 
 

3 . Handpicking Handcrafted

Choosing massive, handcrafted log walls for your home can make an impressive style statement. It may also make an impressive dent in your building budget. While some will say it’s worth the expense to capture the rich character and feel of naturally shaped logs, you can echo the style within a modest budget. The key is to look for places you can afford to include hand-finished or full round, natural-shaped logs. Talk with your designer or log producer about adding a few handcrafted posts or beams in a public area like the great room. Consider a character log for your fireplace mantel or spring for hand-peeled wood railings for your stairs. By choosing that route, you add a handcrafted element to a place in your home that you touch every day.
 

4. Hot Tip

A real stone fireplace that soars up to the very top of a vaulted ceiling is a drool-worthy log home feature. The cost of a true masonry fireplace (one built on site by a mason using full-size stones) easily runs into five figures. If your budget has fewer zeroes earmarked toward a log home hearth, try this idea on for size: Choose veneer or manufactured stone. These materials, which are either thin slices of real stone or synthetic materials cast to look like stone, are lighter, cheaper and don’t require a stonemason to install. Another way to save money is to limit the size of the fireplace surround. Could you make the fireplace area cozier with a lowered ceiling? If you’re after a cabin look, a wood or gas stove will not only cost less for the appliance, the installation costs will be lower, too.
 

5 . Deerly Beloved

There’s a reason genuine antler chandeliers and light fixtures cost thousands of dollars: Their assembly requires meticulous craftsmanship and artistry to turn irregular, natural materials into an aesthetically pleasing whole. So, what if you love the look but can’t justify the splurge? Track down faux or cast-antler fixtures instead. You’ll find them at a range of prices, starting as low as $150, depending on size. To add a bit of wink-and-nod attitude, choose a fixture with brightly painted faux antlers, or those that are dipped in a metallic finish. Saving a bundle can be whimsical and fun!
 
 
 

 If you’re watching your wallet, you don’t have to say “no” to unique, high-end finishing materials like hand-painted tiles — just use them judiciously. Installing small quantities at focal points, like behind the range, and supplementing with less expensive field tile, is a smart way to achieve beauty on a budget.
 

6. Counter Offer

Sure, acres of marble countertop look beautiful in a custom home kitchen, but falling in love with a pricey countertop doesn’t have to bankrupt your project. Mixing materials is a smart way to lower costs and still get the look you love. For example, top your (not-so-big) island with marble and price out a less costly material for the rest of the countertops. The same approach works for tile backsplashes. Use a small number of expensive, handcrafted tiles in a prominent spot, like over the range. Then fill the rest of the space with a complementary and budget-friendly field tile.
 
The bottom line is, don’t assume you can’t afford to replicate the ideas you see in magazines, model homes or manufacturers’ catalogs. With a little creativity, you can create a drool-worthy design that won’t make your jaw hit the floor when you get the bill, so don’t be afraid to dream big.