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"Paradise Calls in McCall"

Country's Best Log Homes, May 1996


After fifteen years of vacationing there, they decided to build their own 4,300 square foot log vacation house.

Sandi Bromagen went to another room to find solitude. She wanted to talk about the vacation home she and her husband, Glenn, had built hundreds of miles away from their permanent home in Lexington, Kentucky. Here three children followed her into the room. no matter. They are part of her building story.


"We started going out to McCall, Idaho, fifteen years ago. An acquaintance, Bob Kemp, has a condominium out there. He invited us to stay with him for four of five days when I was pregnant with our first child. It was a lot of fun. We absolutely loved it. The next year when our daughter was nine months old, Bob insisted that we come back. In fact, our daughter took her first steps in McCall.


"McCall is really cold. I remember there were other kids in the lake and our daughter was all bundled up in towels, but she kept crawling straight into the icecold water up to her neck," Sandi laughed. "We'd pluck her out all blue and shivering, and she'd crawl right back in the water!"


"Every year as the family grew, we'd find our selves heading right back to that cold, clear lake for our vacations. We'd rent a condominium or stay in one of the local hotels."


The Bromagens began to think about a vacation home and particularly a log home. Sandi chuckled, "It was silly economically. It was ridiculous. We lived too far away. We couldn't spend enough time there. We weren't sure we wanted to build there. Even if we want to build it, how could we do such a thing from Lexington? But finally, after talking for years and looking at other houses, we just did it."


They met Bob Kemp's soninlaw, Jim Young, president of Precision Craft Log Structures. They had seen pictures of some of the homes his company had built and liked them.


"Tim Schafer, lead architect at Precision Craft, drew up plans for the new log home and we changed the plans several times," says Sandi. "We kept flipflopping bedrooms and bathrooms around. We really wanted an extra guest bedroom and laundry room in the basement, so we just modified the plans and pieced other ideas together."


Sandi discusses that planning stage. "I don't see in 3-D. Other people can look at plans and say this room is too small or that room is the wrong shape, but I can't see a house that way until it's done. I knew what the floor plan was, but I could never see how it was going to look. When I actually did see it, I was so excited. I really liked it."


The Bromagen's 4,300squarefoot vacation house was completed in six months. The walls are 12inch Douglas fir from Idaho and eastern Oregon. There are five bedrooms and four baths.


It's a threelevel house with three children's bedrooms on the top floor. There are two baths on the same floor. The main floor contains the great room with a full masonry fireplace and adjoining deck, kitchen, dining room, and master bedroom. The master bedroom has a spacious walkin closet, bath, and exit to the deck.


The lowest level has a guest room and bath, a large recreation room, and a laundry room. "My favorite room is the kitchen," says Sandi. "The kids all come in from playing outside and sit at the counter with their hot cocoa."


An elegant wine refrigerator rack is built into the kitchen cabinet. From the area of the sink, there's a view of woods, the public beach, and glimpses of the lake. Track lighting and abundant windows give the kitchen a modern, sleek look. The kitchen is 320 square feet, allowing plenty of room for cooking, entertaining, and family gatherings, which always end up in this popular room. The blue and white tile backsplash adds to the colorful and contemporary styling.


Leaning on acquaintances again, Sandi sought out Michele Rufenachp, wife of Glenn's business partner. Michele is an interior designer in Scotsdale, Arizona. "Michele took some of her Western decorating ideas and placed them in our home in McCall, where they fit perfectly," acknowledges Sandi. "Some of the furniture she chose was built by a man and his two sons in their garage in Arizona.


"The front of the house facing the lake is all windows, especially on the middle floor where the dining room, kitchen, and great room are located. The fireplace stretches up two floors into their son's room and was built with Salmon River rock. "We actually use the fireplace on our summer holidays, especially when it's cold and rainy," Sandi explains. In the coldest weather, the electric heating system is turned on.


Despite the dramatic windows, Jim Young says the home is very warm. "We used thermal insulated windows. All logs provide really good insulation. Those logs are 12inch Douglas Fir. We needed a bigger log size for this fairly large home.


"The home has spectacular views," Jim Young adds. "We did find the site's slope a bit of a challenge. We had to excavate and build deep foundations, and locate immense boulders to prevent erosion.


"The Bromagens were very receptive to our designs. They were so enthusiastic about the whole project. I can say that it was an enjoyable six months building a milled home for this family, who'd dreamed of their ideal vacation home since they first came to McCall," Jim says.


One of the reasons Sandi and Glenn could build a milled home across the country was that they had great confidence in their builder. "There is the feeling about Jim that no matter what he says, we believe him. He has really good judgment," Sandi says. She advises people who are looking for a building contractor to consider more than his workmanship. "You also need rapport. You have to feel comfortable with him and trust his decisions, especially when you are far from the building site."


Most of all, Sandi and Glenn learned that building a vacation home, however impractical it seemed, was attainable. They advise: Find the site. Find the builder you trust. Then choose the plans that fit your dream. And, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."