The exterior of the home displays an abundance of intricate
design elements to match its size. “You have to get a lot of architectural
features into a design of this scale so that it has curb appeal,” explains
designer, Mike Orr of Wisconsin Log Homes.
At more than 11,000 square feet, it’s no secret that Jim and Susie have a big house. And, if you spend more than a few minutes with the couple, you’ll quickly find out they’ve got big hearts to match.
No one knows that better than the 17 teenagers from the local Boys and Girls Club who attended a week-long summer camp at the couple’s lakeside home
this past year. During the week, the house bustled with the usual pursuits — boating, swimming, fishing and campfires — but what made the activities extra-special was that they were being experienced for the first time.
“These kids had never had those opportunities,” says Susie. “They’d never made a s’more, been on a boat or held a fishing pole, and through a lot of coordination, we were able to create a wonderful experience for them and for us.” Jim adds: “It was a dream come true for us. When we first saw this house on paper, it was like, ‘God, if you let us have this house, we will find a way to share it.’”
The couple’s desire to share their blessings with others is, in a nutshell, what prompted them to build their spectacular eight-bedroom getaway on the shores of the same sandy-bottomed, spring-fed lake where, for two decades, they’d spent weekends, summer vacations and holiday breaks with their own children.
After 20 years, the couple had outgrown their first lake house — a rustic log cabin they built from a Wisconsin Log Homes
catalog — and were ready to move on … but not too far. “At first, when we thought of building another cabin, we thought maybe we should look at another lake or part of the state, but the kids said, ‘This is our lake,’” recalls Jim.
And so the decision was made to stay put and purchase what Jim calls “the best lot on the lake,” a former public park with a flat walk-out to the water, southern exposure and expansive oak trees. (It serendipitously became available just as the couple began their site search.)
With the perfect property in place
, it was time to create the perfect plan to match. The couple returned to Wisconsin Log Homes, but this time, they were seeking something more modern
. “We call their house a hybrid timber-style home because it’s conventionally built but features lots of wood accents, timber trusses and stone columns,” explains Mike Orr, the home consultant at Wisconsin Log Homes who spearheaded the project.
The couple started with a 5,800-square-foot stock plan, then nearly doubled it, adding four new bedrooms and three bathrooms. “Our goal was for each of our children’s families to have their own little space,” says Susie. “Every bedroom has its own bath and an extra bunk bed.”
What wasn’t on the couple’s dream home wish list? Having anything showy. “It’s bigger than we planned, and we laugh about that,” says Jim. What was on their seven-page-long list of ideas was a place where their guests — whether family members or local teens — would always feel welcome. “We wanted it to be comfortable for a large number of people, 25 or 30 of us at once,” says Jim, “but it also needed to feel comfortable for the two of us.”
To accomplish this, Mike and the Wisconsin Log Homes design team drew up a floor plan
that places the master suite, great room, kitchen and outdoor living spaces in close proximity. “Those are the spaces Susie and I use when we are at the house,” says Jim. The remainder of the rooms are tucked away for privacy, including all of the guest suites and the bunk room above the garage that sleeps 14. “Because of the way the house is laid out, you forget those additional spaces are there, so the house doesn’t feel as big as it is,” says Jim.
While the couple is aware of the home’s sprawling size — “It’s a lot of work, a labor of love,” says Susie — they wouldn’t change a thing. “It’s incredible, and it’s a place we hope will stay in the family for generations,” says Jim. He adds, jokingly: “The newest grand baby came here at eight days old, and we won’t rest until the bunk room is filled with grandkids.”
Until then, the couple is happy to spend their days with the family, friends and community members who frequent their home. “During the day, we do a lot of lawn and activities, all blessed with fellowship and laughter,” Susie says. “In the evening, we take cruises up and down the lake and end up around the campfire with s’mores. It’s our happy place.”
8 Full, 1 Half Log Provider: Wisconsin Log Homes