Planning a Custom-Built Log Home

Richard Johnson’s love of log homes goes much deeper than the usual appreciation for their earthy coziness and woodsy good looks. You could say it’s in his blood.

The lakeside dock

Richard Johnson’s love of log homes goes much deeper than the usual appreciation for their earthy coziness and woodsy good looks. You could say it’s in his blood. “One of the very first log homes on this lake was built by my great-grandfather, and it still stands,” says Richard. “We spent our summers there.” These days, the lifelong log admirer again spends his summers—along with his falls, winters and springs—in a log home on those same shores of Wisconsin’s Columbia Lake, only this time the home is an Eastern white pine stunner of his own. At 3,800 square feet, the five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home is plenty big enough for Richard and his dog, as well as for his two grown daughters, who visit often. And, just as important, the place is roomy enough for the countless one-of-a-kind furnishings and tchotchkes that make Richard’s home, well, his. “Over the past 30 years, I’ve accumulated a lot of things that are historic in nature, and they seem to fit very well. I have presidential signatures throughout the home and trunks from Norway that are more than 100 years old. I was in the service for five years, and I collected antiques from Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan,” says Richard. “It’s sort of a hodgepodge,” he admits, “but everything in the house means something to me.”

Likewise, building the place to his specifications meant something to the Waupaca, Wisconsin-based Strongwood Log Home Company, which used 8-by-12-inch square logs with a smooth finish inside and a rustic finish outside to give the home the down-to-earth “Americana” feel Richard wanted. The company also helped Richard tweak one of its standard designs to make the place uniquely his—often with spectacular results. “One thing he did is something most people don’t think about,” points out Bob Marcom, Strongwood’s director of sales and marketing. “They typically have a deck running across the back of the house, but Rick didn’t want to break up the windows, so he has a private deck off the master bedroom and another off the dining area.
A view of the custom log home

“Since there’s no deck running between the two sides of the house, it makes the rear view even more impressive. From the ground level all the way up to the peak in the gable, it’s one big wall of windows.” And from the front door to the back, it’s a space that Richard can truly call his own—even if his eclectic decor did raise a few eyebrows at first. “The designer for Strongwood was amazed that everything worked as well as it did,” chuckles Richard. But everything in the home “evokes a memory of something I did or someplace I was. Decorating like this is something a guy can do and get away with.”

Home Details

Square footage: 3,800

Log Producer: Strongwood Log Home Company

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