Summer Camp | A Log Home for Outdoor Living

A couple's upstate New York log home provides family fun for all members during the summer months and beyond.

You might get the idea from the large wooden deck,screened-in porch and inviting great room that Nelson and Caryl Tilden spend a lot of time sitting around at their upstate New York log home.Not exactly. For this pair, retiring didn't mean sitting back and relaxing.

"We're outdoor people," says Caryl. "Our lifestyle is very recreational." When they're not hosting their five children and 14 grandchildren, the Tildens are out boating, kayaking, water-skiing and fishing on Lake Chautauqua, their home base seven months a year. Living RoomThe pair calls this place "Summer Camp" and not just for its back-to-nature setting nestled between the lake and a cluster of oaks, maples and cherry trees.

When their family visits throughout the summer, the property is decked out with life-vests, fishing gear and sporting equipment. The only thing missing is a camp counselor's whistle. Come late fall, Nelson and Caryl snowbird off to south Florida where the two credentialed master naturalists volunteer in the great cypress swamps of the Everglades.

Whenever the couple leaves, they say they miss the smell of the wood, the great views and the breezes they enjoy while dining on the screened-in porch. "It's Bemus Point we call home," explains Caryl, who was born in the resort town, about 45 miles from Erie, Pennsylvania. "This really is our dream house."  

Retirement Planning After finishing up their careers as hospital administrators in West Virginia, the Tildens relocated to Caryl's hometown. But Bemus Point is more than just the place where she was born. It's the town her great, great, great-grandfather founded in the early 19th century. In fact, the plot beneath the Tildens' log home was deeded from the original family homestead. The couple had often thought about a log-style retirement home. They loved the idea of exposed beams and the strong, sturdy look of wood.  Log Homes in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, they were sold. FloorplanThe Tildens found a Kuhns Bros. stock plan they liked, then made a number of alterations, customizing the home to fit their lifestyle, leaving them with a 2,000 square foot home in the end. Here are a few design ideas that went into the Tildens' home project:

  • An extended roofline makes the garage look like a natural part of the overall design.
  • A screened-in porch was added that the Tildens use for meals, entertaining or just relaxing nearly every day.
  • The floorplan has an open, airy feel with an exposed beam-and-purline roof system that adds a dramatic flair often associated with larger spaces.
  • The house is constructed of 6-inch by 8-inch, D-profile logs that are round on the exterior and flat on the interiorÑcreating a convenient surface for hanging artwork and shelves.
  • A virtual wall of windows dominates the great room, with its 21-foot-high vaulted ceiling.
  • Throughout the home, stained oak flooring continues the theme for a clean, streamlined look that's also easy to maintain.
  • There's also a grandkid-friendly basement with a TV room, Ping-Pong table, workshop and some extra room for storage.