Planning an Old-Fashioned Log Home

A Wisconsin couple builds a new log home that exudes old-fashioned charm.

Tucked away in the heart of Chequamegon National Forest in northwest Wisconsin, you’ll find a veritable treasure trove of antiques — also known as the getaway home of Scott and Karen Durham. Built a decade ago, the 5,500-square-foot abode, like its contents, has aged graciously and now exudes a timeless appeal.

Classic Log Cabin Walkway

Imparting an old-style feel into the five-bedroom home, required a two-pronged process of design and decoration, but the couple didn’t do it alone. Hayward, Wisconsin-based LaCoy Construction had a large part in helping the couple achieve the desired timeworn aesthetic in their new log home. “The Durhams had specific ideas of what they wanted, and they were very involved in the details of the designing and building process,” says builder Ken LaCoy, who usually completes two custom homes per year. “For example, Karen came to me with antique doorknobs that she wanted to use, and we worked those into the design.”

Classic Log Cabin Rec Room

The doorknobs were just the beginning. The home features a number of distinctive design elements that hearken back to a simpler time. Six floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, laid by a local father-and-son team, Frank and Frank, give the home old-fashioned warmth, while a wood-burning stove set into stone lends the finished basement a nostalgic flair. And a dumbwaiter installed next to the great room fireplace acts as a conversation starter and practical convenience, allowing the firewood harvested from the couple’s property to be transported throughout the house with ease.

Classic Log Cabin Great Room


In building the home, the couple made decisions carefully to emphasize the antique look they longed for. The hand-scribed larch and lodgepole pine logs range in diameter from 10 to 16 inches and a Swedish cope log profile with saddle-notched corners perfect the rustic cabin look. A weathered stain finishes off the aged effect. “Because none of the logs are the same size, it looks more authentic, like a home you would have found in the olden days,” Karen says.  

The home’s decor imbues a comforting aura to the Durham’s charming retreat. Stained-glass windows purchased during the couple’s countless antiquing excursions make a striking statement, while an array of colorful quilts — some inherited from the couple’s great-grandparents — hang over the wooden rails above the great room, lending a soft touch to the rustic surroundings.

Of all the Durhams’ prized possessions, one of the most impressive is a yellow birch bedroom set custom-made in Ashland, Wisconsin, from reclaimed logs found at the bottom of Lake Superior. “According to a logger stamp, the tree was planted in 1523 and harvested in 1887 by a man named R.D. Pike,” Scott says. And for the perfect old-fashioned hideaway, the secluded location makes visitors feel as if they’ve stepped back in time. Good thing the Durhams took their time choosing the ideal acreage.

Classic Log Cabin Catwalk

“We wanted southern exposure. We had to be on the lake, have evergreen trees and birch trees, and a northern look,” Karen says. “It took us a few years to find that, but it was worth the wait in the end.” And despite that search, the 80-acre property ended up being right in the back yard of one of the couples’ favorite vacation spots, where they had enjoyed getaways with their family for the previous 20 years.

“We spent so much time there with our family, we figured it was the perfect place to build our own log home,” explains Karen, a mother of two and grandmother of four. “And, having our own place is so much nicer. It’s a warm, happy, comfortable place. It truly is a part of us.” And with its soothing surroundings and inviting atmosphere, the Durham’s log home offers an ageless charm that will never go out of style.