No Place Like Home

For a fireplace mantel to make its full impact, it's got to be the right size, shape and style for your room.

When Jill Koontz was a little girl growing up in Kansas City, she loved her family's summer treks to majestic Montana where her father was born and raised. Jill reveled in these carefree days under seemingly endless blue skies. She especially loved visiting her grandmother, who lived in Exterior Fronta log home. "It was such a warm, comfortable feeling," she recalls. Fast forward to the early 21st century in Kansas City's not-so-Wild-West suburbs. It was a time when Jill and her husband Ken (a Wichita native) frequently enjoyed their own outdoor adventures. On  camping, hunting and fly-fishing trips to Idaho and Montana, the couple stayed at several luxury ranches and resorts, which allowed them to "test drive" modern log home living. "We got to see if a log home was something we felt comfortable in for the long haul," says Jill. "Turns out it really suits our style." The two became so enamored with building a log home, they quickly began hunting around for land near Kansas City. But that proved more challenging than they expected. For starters, the flat, sparse terrain of Kansas offers little in the way of rolling hills and forests. To adapt a line from The Wizard of Oz: "Jill, you're not in Montana anymore." "We were looking for something about 30 to 40 acres," says Jill. "But when we came upon this 100-acre plot in Louisburg, we reconsidered." Finally, the couple found their storybook scene: a wooded site dotted with creeks and ponds. Not only an ideal setting for a log home, the location also provided Ken with a manageable commute to his radiology practice acrosGreat Rooms the state line in Kansas City, Missouri. After finding their dream site, the couple faced their next decisionÑchoosing a log producer. Jill clipped out magazine articles and ads, then got on the phone to interview log home companies. She and Ken eventually chose Rocky Mountain Log Homes in Hamilton, Montana. "It had gotten to the point where I'd flip through a magazine and say "That's a Rocky Mountain home,'" says Jill of the company's sophisticated designs. "And sure enough, I was right." Ken and Jill looked at several of Rocky's floorplans from their home in Kansas—hand-marking modifications and sending them back to the design team. At the same time, the couple was expecting their first child. Plus, with alterations, their initial home plans had ballooned to 8,000 square feet, which was just too exorbitant for their tastes. FloorplansSo the duo put on the brakes and started small—building only a road and barn on their property. Once baby Charlie was born, they went back to the drawing board. Here are some of the design ideas that went into Jill and Ken's home project:
  • A large mudroom accommodates the family's three yellow Labs: Kota, Belle and Hank. Also on the main level you'll find the laundry area, master suite, kitchen, living room and dining room.
  • The second-floor loft area includes three bedrooms and two baths, while a lower walkout level houses a billiard room, play room, fitness area and both a full and half bath.
  • A 15-foot-wide deck extends along the entire back of the house and wraps around both sides.
  • Another outdoor escape is the screened gazebo—a great hangout, even on rainy days. To enhance the experience, the couple built a water garden beneath the gazebo, which trickles into a koi pond. And on hot summer days, the glistening swimming pool awaits.
  • In the foyer powder room, excess fireplace stones run up the wall, creating a unique border. More leftovers surround the kitchen island.
  • The kitchen features a sheetrock ceiling and stone-topped island. The cherry cabinets are curved, as in nature, rather than squared off. And even the modern stainless-steel appliances are softened with rounded edges.
More information on the Koontz family home was featured in the March 2006 issue of Log Home Design.