Life, it is said, is a series of choices, with only the benefit of hindsight to gauge your success. When my wife, Amanda, and I set off on our journey to design and build our dream log home
, we knew we were making one of the biggest choices of our lives — one with the most long-lasting impact to our family. Now that our house is done (and has been chronicled in Log Home Living for the past year-and-a-half), we are finally living in our dream. It’s nice to be able to take a breath and look back at the myriad choices we made along the way and see what everyone thinks of the home we’ve built together.
One of the things I hear most from visitors as they see our home from the outside is, “This place is huge!” I won’t disagree that it’s larger than average house and that the facade it presents to those coming up the driveway or viewing from across the valley may even make it feel imposing. But a major part of our design principle was to create an exterior that makes a statement, with large exposed timbers and truss work, striking rooflines with generous overhangs and an angled garage that visually extends the home’s size.
The irony is that for us as a family, and for most of those same visitors once they step inside our home, is that it’s very cozy and has a lot of the small-home feel that belies its larger-than-life exterior. It’s here that the logs make all the difference, with their warm honey-toned finish and gracefully flared butt ends. There’s warmth to wood that doesn’t exist with drywall or other typical home finishes. See also The Log Home Journey: How to Make Moving Day Easy
Our home’s layout also fosters togetherness. The kitchen
, great room
, dining room and bar area all flow together better than even Amanda and I had hoped.
“I love my kitchen,” Amanda says time and again. “It’s big enough to cook in while the kids run around, color at the island, watch iPads at the table or ‘help’ me cook. In our last kitchen, we were always stepping all over ourselves. Now I feel like I can breathe.”
The kitchen island is the most striking part of the room’s design, and Amanda fought hard to keep it the size that it is. There was a lot of concern from many folks, myself included, that it would be too big and have unusable space, but Amanda was adamant it stay as drawn. It was definitely the right decision for us, and it has worked out fantastic as a spot for the kids to eat and do school activities, as well as for us to set up buffets for dinner parties.
While the kitchen is where most of life happens, it is the great room that’s the true centerpiece of our home, because it’s the part with the awesome log truss work that draws the most astonishment from our guests. A lot of planning went into the design
of the core of our house. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to see when I walked in the front door and faced the great room: logs, a grand stone fireplace
and a view of outside through a wall of windows. And that’s exactly what I have.
The wood-burning fireplace is the room’s anchor, capped by a one-of-a-kind burled redwood mantel crafted by Redwood Burl in California. The adjoining log staircase makes its own statement and doubles as a fun conversation piece. Inspired from the pages of Log Home Living
, the hand-hewn “canoed” treads crafted of the same lodgepole pine as the other timbers were assembled into ash stringers by a local stair craftsman and our builder. For all its unique structural components, it’s the view that really makes the room, though, and the oversized windows frame some of the most beautiful sunsets in New Jersey. Amanda says, “With all these windows, it’s like being outside all the time, and it’s just so relaxing to sit and watch the deer walk by.”
The smallest members of the family have their own points of view, too. All three, of course, love their rooms. Outfitted with bunk beds in each space, it’s where they enjoy playing with toys and an impromptu game of hide-and-seek. Though our son, Shane, admits, “The kitchen is pretty cool, too. There’s a lot of room … and a lot of hiding places.” When asked to name her favorite space in the home, Molly was non-committal, “I love everything, because it’s soooo cool!” For as much arguing as I do with my 4-year-old daughter, I find it difficult to find flaw with that statement.See also Meeting Challenges in Log Home Construction
For those that have followed our journey with us, I’ve tried to share my opinions of things as we have moved along, and if I were to share all my favorite aspects of our house, we might need a book instead of a magazine article! One late addition I can share since the last “Log Home Journey” installment is that my great room bar has quickly turned into one of my favorite spaces in the house. The cabinets are from the same Omega line as those in the kitchen, albeit a different style. I absolutely love the Cygnus quartzite countertop with its rustic chiseled edge. It was a frontrunner for our kitchen, but lost out because of its darker color. I quickly revisited it when the bar opportunity came up. As an Irishman, having my own “Murphy’s Bar” is, in the words of my daughter, “soooooo cool.”
As proud as I am of my hybrid log house
, what I enjoy most is watching my family and our friends enjoy it as they discover all the little things that Amanda and I did to make the home comfortable and inviting.
Amanda summed it up the best: “You keep asking me what I love most, but what I love most isn’t a ‘thing’ or a ‘place.’ What I love most is that this house is us, and we made it together.” And perhaps that statement is the reason I love her most.
We are grateful to Sean for sharing his journey with us. He, in turn, would like to thank the following companies/people for contributing to his beautiful log home:
Tour the Hyrbid Home
The log work is on full display in the Murphys’ great room. Dramatic 25-foot-tall ceilings are accentuated by the golden queen post and parallel chord truss systems. The fireplace is the heart of the room and draws the eye to the glass panels that frame the view.
See also How to Make Your Log Home Dream a Reality