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"The Natural Philosophy"

May 2008, Country's Best Log Homes


Custom Log HomeGrowing up in Arizona, Jon Jacobs enjoyed the outdoors: Hiking, golfing, and hunting were major influences during his formative years. In college, Jon wrote a composition about how he planned to retire early and build a log home in the mountains. His goals were clearly set.

Even after Jon took a job in the city and worked 70-hour weeks, he and his wife Tiffani kept his dreams in sight. They planned ahead for the day when Jon would retire and build their dream home. They even purchased some furniture in advance of the log home construction project. Finally, the time was right to pull the trigger, so Jon and Tiffani attended several log shows and spoke with various companies about mountain-designed homes.

Meanwhile, the couple went to select their land. Jon’s passion for outdoor activities pointed them toward the Rocky Mountain states. Tiffani’s father, a real estate professional, helped them locate a 5.4-acre parcel near Island Park, Idaho, on the shores of Henry’s Lake. Located just 15 minutes from Yellowstone National Park, the area provided Jon with all the wildlife and scenery he always envisioned for his log home plans.

The Jacobs then narrowed down the list of producers to three companies, and eventually chose PrecisionCraft Log and Timber Homes after sales representative Todd Gailey helped them put their ideas on paper and prioritize their ideas. At the top of the list, Jon and Tiffani wanted an open layout, cathedral ceilings, large unobstructed windows, and a professional kitchen.

The chalet-style floor plan they chose is a modified Tahoe model with a smaller footprint, according to Tim Schafer of M.T.N Design, an associate business of PrecisionCraft. “A first floor laundry room was eliminated to allow for the smaller footprint, along with rearrangement of the master bath and powder room,” Schafer says.

The stairway went from an L-shape to a U-shape configuration (which, according to Schafer, can be an engineering challenge), and the plan was reversed so the kitchen and dining room would face the best view of the mountains and lake.

"Modifications were made to the great room too," says Jon. The fireplace was relocated to a corner position so an entertainment center could be located along the one full wall. A couple of structural posts that obstructed some of the views were eliminated and the ceiling beams were reinforced to redistribute the load.

The Tahoe plan calls for each bedroom to have an attached full bathroom and access to either a balcony or a deck, something Jon and Tiffani felt was important for a vacation-type home. “The whole floor plan is incredible and very functional for one or more visiting families,” says Jon. The next step was to find a contractor who could handle the job. After a few bumps in the road and a few false starts, the building project was handed over to Chipper Smith, a local general contractor who saw the project through. “In a remote setting, it can be very difficult to find an experienced company and a crew of skilled workers,” Jon adds. “It was a relief to find one that could finally turn my dream home into reality.”

Log Home Great RoomOnce the home was in place, Jon and Tiffani moved their collection of furniture the couple had collected over the previous seven years. A variety of pieces were purchased from Scottsdale Art Factory, Old Hickory Furniture Company, and Lodgecraft Rustic and Log Furniture. The overall décor theme can be described as Western rustic with Navajo blankets, heavy wood pieces, and simple lines.

The accents feature plenty of natural materials, including antler lighting fixtures, a river rock fireplace and breakfast bar, slate and wood flooring, and rustic knotty maple cabinetry. When the interior was nearly done, Jon turned his attention to the landscaping. He sat down with Merrill Quality Landscaping and mapped out the yard, which was a tree-less blank slate on which to work. “We were able to create a stone fire pit area, flowing garden beds and a sitting space that overlooks the lake,” Jon says. “We had trouble with our new trees and a hungry moose over the winter, but we have found a natural solution spray on the trees and keep the moose away.”

Realizing a lifelong dream has been a pleasure for both Jon and Tiffani. “Living in this secluded location means your closest neighbor may be a den of foxes and your visitors could be migrating birds making their way south,” Jon says. “The log home is the perfect structure for this rustic setting and lifestyle. I hope I can inspire others to retire when they are able – and enjoy life to the fullest.”