"Stop & Stare"Log Home Living, November 2002
A Canadian log home attracts attention along a remote mountain lane.
Bob Fleck lives along a not-so-busy road near Chilliwack, British Columbia, on a mountainside overlooking the Frazier River. But even though he's chosen the road less traveled, he's certain there's going to be an accident some day--a real pile-up. Weekends are the worst, when the out-of-towners slow down to a crawl just to admire his log home.
Bob wanted a log home for a long time, and he finally got his wish a few years before he retired from the telecommunications industry. His inspiration came from a floorplan that he'd picked up at a log home show years before. And as the weekend traffic jams prove, the result is spectacular.
The uncomplicated design consists of three log units--two squares on each end with a center square set on a diagonal to capture the 180-degree view of the valley below. An octagonal-shaped sunroom holds a hot tub and adds to the home's curb appeal. "It's a pretty simple house," Bob says. "Not cheap, but simple."
To build his home, Bob was fortunate to have excellent nearby resources. He selected Chilliwack-based handcrafter Canadian Walden Log Homes as log producer and Ron Ediger & Son, also of Chilliwack, as general contractor. Bob was well aware of Canadian Walden's owner Vern Reimer's fine reputation, and he'd heard good things about Ron, too. Plus, the two companies already had a history of working together, and their joint projects included many log residences, a restaurant in Japan and a fishing lodge in Russia.
Ron was involved with the project right from the beginning. When the log package was first assembled at Canadian Walden Log Homes' logyard, Ron was there to measure the foorprint before he broke ground for the foundation. "We did nothing beforehand," Ron explains. "We always work like that."
Bob chose 13-inch Douglas fir timbers for his 2,570 square foot house because he liked the light, rich look of the wood. Ron had worked so closely with his team during the early phase of design and log preparation, the Canadian Walden crew was able to stack the log walls and build the elaborate truss system with ease. "That's always gratifying," Ron says, "especially since it means that the house takes shape quickly. Even though there may be as much as a year's worth of work left inside, when the logs are up in a couple of days, it's a real big 'Wow!'"
The prow-shaped central section of the house serves as the main living area, flanked by the kitchen wing on one side and the master bedroom suite on the other.
The master suite includes a walk-in closet, a spacious bathroom and a laundry room--a smart location, since that's where the laundry is generated. The original plans called for two bedrooms in this wing, but since Bob lives alone (except for his miniature pinscher, Nico) it made sense to merge the two into one comfortable private suite. The spacious lower level holds guest bedrooms for visitors, as well as a game room and extra storage.
The kitchen and dining wing mirrors the bedroom suite at the opposite end of the house. But whereas the bedroom is designed for privacy, Bob wanted the kitchen to be very open toward the living room. To accomplish this, Canadian Walden created a wide archway with a curved top called a flying arch measuring about 15 feet across. "I left it up to Walden and that's what I got," Bob says with great pleasure. The unusual shape of the archway draws attention to the wood grain, as does the bevel cut around door and window frames.
The kitchen is designed for entertaining, with its six-burner stove and enough workspace for multiple chefs. The ample seating at the center island provides plenty of room for both guests and gourmets to chat during meal preparation.
With maple cabinets, Doulas fir log walls and the massive trusses overhead, Bob wanted to make certain there would be plenty of natural light, so two of the house's 10 skylights are in the kitchen. White appliances, tile floor and back splashes as well as light laminate countertops make the most of the sunshine by reflecting light around the room.
The gas-burning fireplace is the focal point of the open living area. Faced with local river rock, it's surrounded by a stone hearth. Oversized seating upholstered in deep burgundy leather is situated around the fire, creating a favorite spot for Bob and Nico to unwind at the end of the day.
The great room is also where you get the full effect of the logs overhead. The house features double trusses to minimize supporting columns and keep the floor space unobstructed. "It's an interesting technique because it gives the house an open feeling and accentuates the timbers," Vern says.
In addition to employing interesting techniques, building this home has afforded some unique opportunities with the interior layout. "Once you have the structure up, a plan that looks good on paper may be different than you expected, and you may have a different feeling about what you want inside," Ron says. "That's why we initially left out a lot of interior walls and made those decisions onsite. It's nice to have that flexibility."
This easy going design was such as success, Precision Craft Log Structures in Meridian, Idaho, which represents Canadian Walden in the United States, acquired it and now offers it as a stock floorplan.
Not to be outdone by the house itself, the view is a big part of what stops traffic around Bob's home. To take advantage of it, a wraparound deck follows the V-shape of the house's footprint. The deck's log handrail is inset with tempered glass so that the scenery is not interrupted by balusters. The natural landscaping features rock walls that shape the hillside into terraces holding low maintenance rhododendrons, azaleas, evergreens, and dogwoods.
After 10 months of construction, Bob couldn't wait to settle in. Now he can't quite figure out what his favorite spot is. It could be the kitchen, maybe the great room, but there's no doubt about Nico's preference. Since chasing cars down the street has become less of a challenge, Nico has taken up a more sedentary way to pass the time--sitting on a blanket in front of the television.