A customized log home provides plenty of space (not to mention fun) for one budget-conscious Wisconsin family.
If there's one thing that Ceil and Dick Jaworski have learned, it's that there are vacation spots and then there are vacation homes--places you go to visit and places you go to really feel settled in, to get comfortable and relax.
After cramming into their Colorado condo for years, the Jaworskis longed for the latter of those two scenarios and decided it was finally time to start building that home they'd always dreamed about. But before diving into the details, they decided on two things for sure: First, they were going to build their home in the North Woods of Wisconsin; and second (but perhaps most important), they were going to build a log home.
In fact, Ceil and Dick had previously owned a 1950s-style cottage in the North Woods. But after their 11 children were grown and in-laws and grandkids were added to the Jaworski census (their six boys and five girls range in age from 21 to 41, and have already given the couple seven grandchildren), the couple decided the family needed something bigger.
"This is the place where we can all gather," Ceil says fondly of their home. And with three stories, 5,000 square feet of living space and gorgeous views of a 500-acre glacier lake in their own back yard, their family gets together often, which is just how Ceil and Dick envisioned it all along.
Before deciding on a log package, the Jaworskis looked at model homes and talked to a number of established builders. As fate would have it, they wound up choosing Gary Elmer of Neenah, Wisconsin, a relatively new addition to the building industry. "I guess you could say we took a chance by not going with a more established company, but it was a worthwhile risk," Ceil says of Elmer. "He guided us through all of our choices."
Many of those decisions involved ways to maintain a high level of quality while still saving money. Architect Edward Carlson of Architecture North Ltd. in Woodruff, Wisconsin, helped that process by scaling back the size of the rooms of the main floor, while maintaining the basic layout and open feel that Ceil and Dick were aiming for.
The Jaworskis also saved money by following Elmer's recommendation to use veneer logs in areas that were not load-bearing and to opt for conventional framing on the second story. For the rest of the home, though, Elmer pushed for larger logs (think 14 to 15 inches in diameter), which the Jaworskis bought from Yellowstone Log Homes of Rigby, Idaho. "The girth of the logs leant a homier feel, which was important to us," says Ceil.
And though the couple wasn't sure if they could afford to finish the 2,000-square-foot basement during construction, Elmer convinced them it was "the most economical way to increase the living space," Ceil says.
"We were able to use the same crew, whose work we trusted and knew," Ceil continues. "Plus, getting it done at the same time meant we wouldn't have to deal with the construction mess in the future."
Currently living in Madison, Wisconsin, about a four-hour drive from the North Woods, Ceil and Dick spend most of their weekends at their new place, frequently joined by their family and a host of friends. They take advantage of the season at hand for sporting events ranging from tennis to cross-country skiing. As for the less active, they can spend their time watching the wildlife that surrounds the home, including foxes, otters, wolves, birds--even bears.
When the warmer weather hits, it's time for "wine and cheese cruises" on the couple's pontoon boat, which is stored in the oversized two-car garage during winter. "I never thought we'd use that garage space, but it's become home to all the off-season sports toys," Ceil says with a laugh. Extra storage space was also built into the eaves of the upstairs, including one built-in chest for clothing.
Another favorite feature: The screened-in porch, located just off the dining room. "It can get kind of buggy along the water," Ceil says, adding that the porch has been both a beautiful and practical way to make the house a four-season experience.
Furnishing the home has clearly been a joy for Ceil who based the home's decorating scheme around two ceramic pots one of her sons made in a high-school pottery class. "They were the first and only things he ever made, and I absolutely love them," Ceil says of the oversized aqua-colored pots that rest on the living room mantel. The bluish-green hue, paired with shades of orange, rust and red, turns up throughout the home. In the master bedroom the colors are reflected in Ceil's collection of Pendleton blankets, and on the main floor, multicolored rugs cover the maple wood flooring.
When asked about her favorite part of the house, Ceil is initially stumped, but her voice sings when she describes time spent sitting fireside and watching the light reflect on the logs.
"There's nothing more magical than being right there at that moment," she says. "But I like to think that's the way we all feel about this entire place."
This article is featured in the September 2006 issue of Log Home Design.