Planning a Hybrid Log Home in Pennsylvania

A homeowner expands his Pennsylvania home by using materials and designs that flawlessly integrate into his hybrid log home.

Purchasing a log home had never crossed Andy Holtzman’s mind when he began to shop for a second home in Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1994. But the born-and-bred New Yorker knew he’d stumbled upon something good when his real estate agent showed him a quaint cabin on two and a half rural acres.
Hybrid Log Home

“We were looking at a lot of old stone houses from colonial times, but I wasn’t finding anything that really clicked,” Andy recalls. He and his agent pulled into the driveway of a home encased in chiseled pine logs at what Andy describes as the perfect time. “It was before dusk and had started to snow, and there was a fire in the fireplace. The whole house glowed. I immediately fell in love it.” 
Loft Gathering Area

A rustic-home novice, Andy began to learn everything he could about log architecture, especially its history and construction. The self-education served him well when he decided to make some changes starting in the late 1990s. Andy’s first major project, in 2001, was the addition of a pool, reminiscent of a lagoon with a waterfall. “It was important to show that this pool belongs to a log house,” Andy says. “I wanted it to feel more rustic, rather than a rectangular baby-blue swimming pool.”

Further complementing the pastoral pool is a pool house, converted from the home’s original log potting shed. The space was updated to include a changing room, tile and a full bar with microwave, refrigerator and coffeemaker. The pool, located in the back yard, provided a new vantage point of the house that allowed Andy to envision his next project: an addition. Andy and his partner, Michael Mele—who spend every weekend at the log home and regularly host guests—found that the existing space was cozy but not necessarily practical. “The kitchen we inherited was nice but small. I wanted a true cooking kitchen,” Andy says. “The loft served as the master bedroom overlooking the great room, so when I decided to go to bed, my guests felt they had to go to their bedroom, too.”
Great Room in a Hybrid Log Home

Andy hired George Bassert of George Bassert Precision Construction Inc. in Bucks County to complete the addition, which included a new kitchen, mudroom and upstairs master bedroom and bathroom. Although logs were used sparingly in the addition, George ensured that the old blended with the new by incorporating pine details stained to match the original log, along with cypress flooring.
Interior of a Hybrid Log Home

“From the inside, you don’t really feel any major change running from a log structure into a non-log structure,” George notes. “It helped homogenize the entire home.”  

Andy used the addition as an opportunity to update components in the existing log structure. The former kitchen was converted to a dining room, which didn’t exist in the original home. The loft, meanwhile, became a true den with a flat-screen TV, desk and built-in bookcases. Iron lighting fixtures from Hubbardton Forge lend an Arts & Crafts feel in each room. The wide-plank cypress floors from the addition flow into the original structure as well. Hunter-green aluminum windows from Kolbe & Kolbe, along with new metal and imitation-slate roofing, enhance the log home’s exterior. Throughout the process of the renovations and addition, which brought the home to 2,200 square feet, Andy always let the integrity of logs guide his decisions.

“I’m more in love with the concept of the log home than ever before, because it was so accepting in marrying itself with other materials,” says Andy, who hopes to eventually make his log home a full-time residence. “The thing that I continually brought up with George—and he did a great job in perfecting it—was that we could never forget that the heart and soul of this building is a log house. Log led the way.”

Home by: George Bassert Precision Construction Inc.