At Tom and Louis Benoit’s log home in rural western Pennsylvania, “welcome” is more than just a casual phrase inscribed on the doormat—it’s a way of life.
No matter how many curious passersby stop to knock on the door of the couple’s home (“When it was first built, people would stop by once a week,” Tom reports), the Benoits are always more than happy to offer a warm greeting and show folks around their just-under-2,000-square-foot masterpiece. And without fail, every admiring onlooker turned impromptu guest leaves impressed.
“Most of them seem to be in awe of the house,” Louis remarks. “They’re taken aback at how much space we have in such a small area.” “I think it turned out magnificent,” Tom adds.
Just as location and happenstance often play a role in strangers’ encounters with the house, both were instrumental in getting it built in the first place.
It all began when the couple purchased a plot of land from the state, which was formerly owned by Tom’s grandparents. Just a mile away from their new property, a log home was under construction. Seeing it piqued the couple’s interest, so they took their questions to Jim and Joy Mulkern at J&J Log Homes, Barna Log Homes' local distributor—located (naturally) just a few miles away.
For their general contractor, the Benoits went even closer to home, relying on Tom’s company, B&B Property Management.
“We didn’t do a lot of the hands-on work, but we did most of the trim work inside. The rest was handled by subcontractors,” Tom says.
With their home-grown team assembled, it took the Benoits only seven and a half months to move into their new home after breaking ground in March 2006. According to Tom, the project didn’t divert from the scheduled timeline once.
Authenticity was a prime objective for Tom and Louis—not a single panel of drywall can be found inside their home, just gorgeous 8-inch yellow pine logs with full interlocking corners.
To enhance the time spent outdoors on their wooded property (also home to the couple’s stable of 15 Percheron horses), the couple modified Barna’s standard Grandview plan with a screened-in patio.
The prominent, 15-foot-high stone hearth in the great room, along with granite countertops and steel appliances in the kitchen, add sleek contrasts to the home’s abundant wood.
"Basically we sat down, threw our ideas around and decided to make some adjustments according to what we liked. We pretty much did everything together," Louis says.
As the home’s contractor and interior designer, the Benoits left a noticeable imprint on their little haven, thanks in part to experience gleaned from previous home building experience.
“We’ve built houses before," Tom says. “We’ve tried different things and used many materials—stone, brick, wood.”
But as so many people come to realize, it isn’t until you build with logs that you truly build a log home.
Square footage: 1,887
Log producer: Barna Log Homes
General contractor: B&B Property Management