The 23 Coolest Amenities Money Can Buy

From elevators to wine cellars, an extravagance or two can turn your future log home into a dream log home.

When it comes to customization of a home, the carefully plotted floor plan is only the beginning. Homeowners love to include amenities. But what qualifies for luxury in today’s world of log and timber homes? Options seem limitless as the home building industry continues to expand with more creative products, allowing owners to personalize based on the lifestyle of each individual in the family — including pets. Still searching for the one idea that matches your lifestyle and ideas? Here are 23 amenities worth looking into.

Photo: Russ McConnell

1. Architectural Detailing Whether you’re looking to create a one-of-a-kind log staircase or include nature-inspired log accents on the exterior of your home, architectural details are a timeless addition. With details such as flared posts, hand-hewn railings, or balusters to larger-scale design elements such as octagonal-shaped rooms or turrets, homeowners can design their home with true craftsman inspiration.

2. Custom Crafted Decor & Furniture Commissioned furniture or handcrafted decor can easily add dimension to a home. Whether it’s a one-of-a-kind piece created by a local craftsman or an item you have recreated based on a picture, personalizing your home can encompass more than just its design.

Solar energy

3. Eco-Friendly Choices With the desire to preserve and protect, more homebuyers are looking for ways to build and live with environmentally friendly materials. Builders, designers, and architects are looking for ways to incorporate green items into their designs; similarly, manufacturers ramp up product offerings that use fewer non-renewable resources. Whether it’s low-flow showerheads, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, EnergyStar products, Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood flooring, or solar panels, homeowners are looking to make less of a footprint on the environment.

4. Elevators Although not something every home may need, a majority of custom homes become vacation or retirement homes, and may even be used generation after generation. Whether planning for the future when age becomes a factor in getting up and down in the home or simply planning for the unexpected medical needs that may arise through life, it may be the one thing that keeps the home a dream home.

Photo: Roger Wade

5. Customized Front Doors Custom front doors allow an owner to make a statement before guests have even walked through the door. Homeowners can have a large role or leave the crafting up to the craftsman, but the end product will always be a one-of-a-kind door.

6. Extravagant Garages We seem to have come a long way from one- and two-car garages designed to store your car and some gardening tools. Now owners are choosing to add two-and-a-half-, three- and four-car garages onto homes, many of which are becoming home not only to cars, but trucks, boats, and other outdoor toy collections. The additional space created in the rafters hasn’t been overlooked, as more people finish the space and convert it into additional living space.

7. Window Walls With many custom homes built in beautiful places, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the splendid view? Installing a window wall to reveal a showstopping view is a right of passage for a custom wood home. Another step is incorporating an entire glass wall and door through which you can enjoy an unobstructed view and walk outside to see it up close and personal.

Photo: Roger Wade

8. Home Office Suites The home office is now one of the most vital rooms in the floor plan, as many entrepreneurs are able to work from home. As the room expands in importance and in size, it’s starting to encompass more than the standard desk, workspace and bookshelves. Dedicated bath facilities and small sitting areas for clients are becoming more popular.

9. Home Theaters Home theaters are expanding their functions to include more than just the role of in-house venue for the latest window-shaking blockbuster. Comfortable seating and a large screen make the room ideal for game nights, including family friendly tournaments with the Nintendo Wii or PS3 systems. Homeowners are also incorporating more one-of-a-kind decor elements which can be appreciated when the room is used for other social gatherings.

10. Pet Rooms The family is running off to the mountain or lakeside retreat — why not bring Fido along? And since the dog or cat is now considered a full-fledged member of the family, that means outdoor kennels are on the outs. People are now adding features to a planned mudroom to make it useful for pet maintenance or designing a room specifically for the pet’s eating, sleeping and bathing habits.

Photo: Roger Wade

11. Portico Entrances Maybe your guests won’t be greeted by a valet when they come to your home, but a covered entrance or portico for them to park under upon arrival ensures plentiful cover in inclement weather and makes for a beautiful entrance feature.

12. Radiant Heat Radiant floors in bathrooms are quite popular, but people building their dream homes take it several steps further. Kitchens, great rooms, basement floors, garages, driveways and sidewalks can all get the warm-floor treatment.

13. Smart Technology Who doesn’t want to enjoy the ease of flipping one switch and having all the lights turn on or off when needed? Or maybe it means lights coming on when you walk into a room or the ability to turn the heat on at your vacation home by making one phone call. Whatever your desire, chances are the technology has either been created or is in the works.

14. Spa Bathrooms Whereas the jacuzzi tub and walk-in shower used to be the way to upgrade a master bathroom, more options are changing the bathroom into more of a personal spa and health-conscious venue. Spacious saunas, fireplaces, heated floors, chromatherapy, sound and light systems, and water purification systems have extended the room beyond simple function to overall relaxation and healthy living.

Photo: Lindal Cedar Homes

15. Outdoor Kitchens From full size sinks, ovens, cooktops, refrigerators, television or stereo systems, warming drawers and fireplaces, an outdoor kitchen space can easily function from dusk to dawn.

16. Toy Rooms/Hobby Rooms A toy room would be a fabulous addition for young children or grandchildren, but are usually intended for the bigger kids — the baby boomers who grew up with baseball cards, autographed photos, record collections, action figures, model cars, coins or other hobbies with high-end collectibles that practically beg for a display other than a bedroom shelf. It’s  also a great idea for hobbies such as sewing, scrapbooking, painting or music.

17. Wireless Technology Custom wood homes have large open spaces, and finding the best location for light switches can prove challenging. Wireless technology gives the choice back to owners, even long after the home has been completed.

18. Stained Glass Windows Picture windows and odd-shaped and decorative windows have been used for generations. In response, a form of stained glass window has been created, which allows beautiful works of art to arise within regular windows, while leaving a glorious view unobstructed.

Photo: Jon P. Janzen

19. Exercise Rooms Dedicated treadmillers and weightlifters don’t have to sweat driving to a gym that’s 45 minutes away, and planning an exercise room is usually not too difficult.

20. Pools Either indoor or out, pools still have plenty of attraction — for kids, grandkids or for exercise-minded owners. Today’s pools feature sophisticated shapes, tile or smoothed rock-lined surfaces, larger surrounding patio spaces, temperature-controlled water climates, and even vanishing or disappearing edges. The options for the area surrounding a pool has exceeded design expectations as well, as homeowners include elaborate landscaping, pergolas, grottos, saunas and waterfalls.

21. Butler Pantry Hosting more dinner parties has paved the way for the comeback of the butler pantry. Designed originally as a staging area for food between the kitchen and dining area, the room also allows for extra storage space of china, serving dishes and linens. It can also be used to display collectibles or for informal social gatherings, encouraging a more custom-designed butler pantry than those created nearly a century ago.

Photo: Lindal Cedar Homes of Seattle

22. Wine Cellars It starts with one or two bottles. Then far-flung adventures, visits from friends, and gifts turn it into a collection. Suddenly you’ve become a wine connoisseur and you decide you need a proper way to store your new collection. Temperature-controlled rooms with wine storage racks and space for wine tasting or intimate dinner parties have brought the wine cellar to the forefront, making it more than just a nook carved out of the dining room or basement.

23. Flat-Panel and LCD Televisions With the ever-expanding technology of flat panel and LCD televisions, homeowners are finding ways to be more creative with hiding the box that we love to hate behind paintings, mirrors or in entertainment cabinets.