Hybrid Wood Home Getaway in Wisconsin

A couple builds their retirement home in order to "get away from it all" without giving up everyday conveniences.

“Getting away from it all” used to mean vacationing in a rustic cabin on a lake and taking it easy. Simple living and simple pleasures like reading, fishing or soaking in the sun. The everyday comforts of home that we take for granted were stripped away, leaving you with a greater appreciation of the little things in life.

A side view of the front of the Zientek home

  Today’s log homes still allow you to enjoy the simple pleasures, but with a bit more comfort. The comfort you find with spacious rooms, large windows, and quality materials. You can still get away from the everyday life without giving up everyday conveniences. Dr. Jim and Carol Zientek have been getting away from it all in Eagle River, Wisconsin, since their children were young. “Our family shared a vacation home with my brother and sister,” says Jim. “But when Carol and I dreamed about retiring someday, we knew we would need a place of our own. So almost 18 years ago, we began to hunt for land.” “Each summer our realtor took us to several lake lots but we were always somewhat disappointed,” Carol says. “In 1998, our realtor led us to a remote eight-acre lakefront lot with 1,600 feet of shoreline. Before we left the site, Jim said we would take it.”  

For 10 years, the family pondered the style of home to build. They sketched out an angled floorplan that would take advantage of the 180-degree view of the lake from atop a rugged hill. At the top of their wish list was plenty of glass for the views and a bit of wood for a rustic feel. When the wish list became long and specific, the Zienteks realized it was time to contact a builder.

Zimpelmann Builders, a contractor of premier homes in northern Wisconsin and also affiliated with Rocky Mountain Log Homes, was selected to take on the project. “Being a design/build firm we obviously try and get inside our client’s heads as much as we can,” says Paul Zimpelmann, “primarily so that the design, as it evolves, can really match the homeowners’ vision, and secondarily so the specifications can be bid out and help us provide the owners with as detailed a cost estimate as we can.”
The lower level features this bright game room for entertainment

  The Zienteks decided to use stucco panels for the exterior with log framing to save on maintenance. “We didn’t want too much wood, so we chose a balance of wood, stone and plaster for the exterior and interior,” Jim says. Logs still dominate the style. Structural posts and trusses, archways, and wood accents are found in the kitchen and on the fireplaces.

The home’s interior was also designed with retirement living in mind, placing the most vital rooms on the main floor. Called “universal design”, it is very forward thinking and provides for all future circumstances. The plan called for accessible five-foot-wide kitchen aisles, five -foot-wide stairways, 36-inch-wide doorways, and four-foot hall openings. “The extra space is not that noticeable,” says Carol. “The angles and wood trick the eye and keep it looking warm and cozy. In fact, the corners and nooks keep the house from feeling vast, even though there is almost 3,500 square feet of living space on each floor.”

Much more about this home, plus floor plans, ran in Country's Best Log Homes' 2008 Floor Plan & Design Guide.