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"Home on the Range"

Log Home Living, August 2002

 

Cowboy style meets country club living in Kansas.

 

Eventually, Jeff Pennick would have the last laugh. But all spring and summer long, while he spent every minute of his free time working on his new log home, his golfing buddies would wave and honk their horns on their way to the golf course.

 

"Except for the roof and the concrete work," says Jeff, "I worked on almost everything in the house-every weekend and every evening. There wasn't a lot of time for golf." To make matters even worse, Jeff could even sometimes see his buddies while they were golfing: His new house was located right off the fairway.

 

When the opportunity to buy the course-side building lot came up a few years back, there was no question that Jeff and his wife Brenda were going to put a log home on it. Both had admired log homes for years, and had already cut their home building teeth on a fixer-upper: an older log home that had required plenty of TLC. While they loved their antique-filled old house into which they had put so much sweat equity, they had had enough of recaulking, resealing and restaining. It was time to build exactly what they wanted, exactly where they wanted it.

 

After buying their homesite (and the two lots on either side of it), the Pennicks began searching the Internet for log home floorplans that featured plenty of open space. Once they had narrowed down their choices, they sent away for more information from those manufacturers offering packages that most closely resembled the home they had in mind.

 

Jeff says that they came to the project without any preconceptions, but it's obvious that their decade long experience living in their old log home had taught them a few things about what to look for. For one thing, they had difficulty keeping their rough logs weathertight, so uniformly milled, kiln-dried logs were a priority. Jeff also liked the idea of a through-bolt system, where logs are stacked on top of threaded rods that tie into the foundation.

 

The Pennicks particularly liked the construction details and full-round double tongue-and-groove log profile offered by PrecisionCraft Log Structures. Based in Idaho, the company features a number of kiln-dried log profiles and wood species options, and produces about 200 log home packages a year, which it ships worldwide. A visit to the company's headquarters and a tour of a few of their homes convinced the Pennicks that their new home should come from Precision Craft.

 

The couple chose a package based on a stock design called the Teton. Because the floorplan had more square footage than they needed, they worked with in-house designer Tim Brock to downsize the floorplan. Fortunately, the company had aleady developed a smaller plan based on the Teton for another couple, and easily adapted the plan for the Pennicks.

 

Construction began around Thanksgiving in 1999. With Jeff able to steal time away from their family-owned glass business to work on the house, the couple could move into the basement about six months later, while the upstairs of the house was being completed. By July 2000, the house was virtually finished and the Pennicks moved upstairs. "We were putting our builder up in a local motel, so we were anxious to move things along and get into the house. But in retrospect, I guess eight months from start to finish is pretty quick," Jeff says.

 

The Pennicks started the project with a relatively short wish list. "I wanted a new log house; Jeff wanted to live on a golf course. We both got what we wanted," Brenda says. They both also wanted a great room encompassing the kitchen and living areas, as well as a master suite on the main level of the house, with a loft and guest bedrooms upstairs. With 2,080 square feet upstairs and another 1,000 square feet finished in the basement, Brenda calls the home "perfectly sized for the two of us." Most of the logs used in the house are 10 inch round Spruce, while Douglas Fir is used for the load-bearing logs.

 

One of the features that contributes to the Southwestern feel of the house is the extensive use of tile and stone. The master bathroom has a tumbled marble floor, while the tub deck is tiled with the same stone. Rosa Verona marble accents the floor and the profiled edge of the tub deck. The twin vanities are topped with rough-edged stone slab cut from the same stone used in the fireplace and chimney in the great room. The stone, which is called chestnut limestone, is quarried in Kansas. The Pennicks gave mason Mike Nevious-a neighbor and long-time friend-plenty of leeway in the design of the stonework.

 

The focal points of the master bath are the hand-carved and faux-finished mirrors by local artisan Mike Livingston. Mike also carved the front door, as well as the sofa table in the great room. "I wanted to get away from antiques, so I sold most of ours when we sold our house. Now I really like the cowboy feel of Western lodges," Brenda says.

 

One of the few remaining antiques from the Pennicks' first log home is the butcher block table in the kitchen. Originally from the meat department of an old Dillon's grocery store, the table made its way to an antique store, where Brenda found it years ago.

 

The cabinets in the kitchen were custom-fabricated by a local cabinet shop. Built of Pine, the cabinets feature a distressed and whitewashed finish to brighten up and contrast with the wood surfaces in the rest of the house. The kitchen appliances are all stainless steel, including the range hood. Low-voltage lighting located in the toe kick of the cabinets adds a decorative accent when entertaining and makes a practical nightlight system.

 

While Jeff and Brenda agree that the great room is their favorite part of the house, both admit they spend most of their time in the finished basement. Here is where their entertainment center is located, with its large-screen television and house-wide stereo system. The stereo system is wired into all of the rooms upstairs. A wireless remote, which can be used upstairs, controls all of the system's functions.

 

The basement also has a wet bar and gas fireplace, which they admit gets used far more than the wood-burning fireplace upstairs. But the real highlight in the basement is Jeff's professional three-hole putting green, which he claims has improved his game by several strokes.

 

As many home owners find, a whirlpool tub is a nice luxury, but the pace of life rarely allows one to slow down enough to enjoy it. If the Pennicks were to change anything about the house, it might be to replace the tub with a larger walk-in shower. Otherwise, they are two satisfied home owners. As Jeff says, "It would take a major change in circumstances to get me out of this house." Now, with the house finished, Jeff has more time for golf, and a choice location right off the 15th fairway. You could say that his buddies are now "green" with envy.