Designing Quality Log Homes For Comfort
by: Deirdre Schwiesow |
No matter how high-end a log home may be, the natural warmth of logs lends itself to a decor with an inviting, informal feel. Whether you want to combine comfort with casual style throughout your home, or just want one room in which to slip off your shoes and kick back, here are some tips for creating a cozy environment.
Putting up Your Feet
Nothing quite makes you feel at home like putting up your feet. In a truly casual home or room, then, your furniture has to be up to the task. Ottomans and footstools should follow the guidelines for furniture described above. When it comes to coffee tables, “anything that has a distressed finish is going to look better in the long run if you’re going to give it hard use,” says designer Michelle Minch, whose company, Moving Mountains Design, is based in Pasadena, California. “Don’t get a shiny enamel coffee table, because the first time you put your feet up, it’s going to get a scratch on it.”
Instead, think about a slate-top coffee table, or one with a glass top. “Glass is a little more dressy, but if you don’t want to live in a ‘coaster’ house where you expect everyone to use coasters, glass is good because you can just wipe it down,” Michelle explains. “And glass is not going to scratch if you put your tennis shoes up there. It is going to scratch if you put your cowboy boots up there, but the good thing about glass is that if you scratch it, you can replace it.”
The Substance of Style
“You can have a comfortable, casual home that’s also stylish, if you’re willing to take a little bit of care—they’re not mutually exclusive,” says designer Michelle Minch, whose company, Moving Mountains Design, is based in Pasadena, California.
The key is making sure that the elements of your decor are sturdy enough for informal use, which means buying “the best-quality furniture that you can,” Michelle explains. “If you can find well-made furniture with a hardwood frame, you can always have it recovered.”
Amanda Heys, an Interior Designer with Locati Interiors in Bozeman, Montana, suggests choosing over-sized furniture—nothing too delicate that you’re afraid to sit on. In a log home, she creates an informal feel with Western or traditional rustic-style furniture, rather than straight-lined pieces. For an inviting sunroom or screened-in porch, Amanda likes wicker furniture, or a combination of wicker and wood, with fabrics that stand up to moisture and sun. Designer tip:
If you’re someone who likes to plop down on the sofa at home, then we suggest doing the same in the showroom to make sure the furniture isn’t not wobbly or wiggly.
Solid construction is one factor; another is the surface or fabric of the piece. “You want people to be able to put their feet up,” Michelle explains. Read: Don’t use delicate upholstery fabrics. Choose fabrics and materials that are sturdy and can take wear and tear. “And stay away from light-colored things, because they show dirt more,” she says.
Canvas is always good (though if you have a natural canvas sofa, it should be slip-covered), there are some chenilles with a cozy feel and wear very well, Ultrasuedes are great, and you can’t beat leather, which ages beautifully. Michelle prefers natural-looking leather instead of shiny. Natural looks a little distressed, and shiny leather tends to show things like scratches and soiling. Designer tip:
Before buying a leather piece, scratch it with your fingernail in an inconspicuous place; good-quality leather won’t show the scratch.
The Art of Placement
The determining factor in furniture placement for an informal setting depends on how the room will be used according to Michelle. “Is it for playing board games, or having people over to watch the football game?” In the great room, she says, you should arrange your furniture for comfortable conversation. (Chatting can be tough if everyone has to sit on one long sofa.) Instead, “it’s nice to have a conversation group with pieces of furniture placed opposite each other,” she says.
To maximize comfort in any gathering space, the goal of furniture placement is to make sure the room flows. Michelle explains that one aspect of this is minimizing any seating with its back to the door—particularly the sofa. Many homes have a fireplace opposite the main entrance to the room, which would make it tough not to have one piece of furniture with a back to it. Michelle’s solution: an arrangement with the sofa positioned perpendicular to the fireplace, two chairs across from the sofa, and a coffee table in between.
Finally, anchor the seating area with an area rug. “This also makes the room feel warmer and cozier, and gives it that ‘finished’ feel,” Michelle says. “Persian-style rugs are heavily patterned and don’t show dirt, and they go with almost any type of furnishings.” Designer tip:
In the case where there are several focal points in a room, such as a television and a fireplace, put the television above your fireplace. (Flat screens, obviously, work best.)
Around the House
A casual kitchen equals a practical kitchen. That is, you’ll want to select countertop materials that make cleaning and maintenance easier, such as CaesarStone quartz, which doesn’t scratch or stain. It also looks good stylistically in a log home, according to Michelle. While granite, tile and wood countertops are attractive, they require more maintenance. For kitchen floors, she recommends porcelain tile, a heavy- duty and easy-to-care-for option with aesthetic versatility.
Similarly, for informal bedroom decor, washable fabrics translate into less worry and more freedom. Other key elements are a comfortable mattress and drapes that can darken the room and offer some sound-buffering possibilities. You also should have bedside tables equipped with lamps bright enough for reading, and perhaps an over-sized reading chair in the corner. “Your bedroom should be your sanctuary,” Michelle says. “It needs to feel safe, quiet, dark and private.”
In any room, to complement the warmth of your interior log walls, Amanda suggests cozy colors such as taupes, khakis, reds and greens. Also, buy the best quality that you can afford, because it will last longer and maintain better. Designer tip:
Eggshell, pearl or satin finish reflects more light than flat paint and is easier to keep clean.
The Personal Touch
Your choice of accessories can do the most to set the informal tone of your log home, so think personal and eclectic, says Amanda. She suggests travel souvenirs, books, personal photographs grouped on walls and on tables, and nature-themed artwork. Layering is a great way to create a casual vibe. Try textured pillows and throws in (faux) fur, hide or a fun print, instead of matching your upholstery exactly.
Lighting sets a strong mood, too. Rather than spotlights, invest in lamps, sconces, candles and chandeliers—though nothing too fancy. Remember, the goal is dressed down. The ultimate symbol of a cozy home is the fireplace, so definitely accessorize it. For the mantel, Amanda suggests candles, a clock or bronzes. Designer tip:
Don’t overload your mantel with knickknacks. The goal is to make the hearth inviting, so that it becomes a gathering place.