"Breaking New Ground"November 2007, Country's Best Log Homes
“I had definite ideas about the look and function of the home,” says Carol, who built three previous homes. “I found a great floor plan by PrecisionCraft Log & Timber and its design division, M.T.N Architects, then customized the design to fit the land I had purchased.”
The hillside lot had a beautiful view of the sweeping mountains of Western Maine, near ski resorts, trout streams, and the Appalachian Trail. Carol brings her family here for getaways from her primary home in Florida. “I knew right where the home had to sit on the lot to get the best view,” she says.
Her next step was to find someone in the area who could build a log home. “Not your typical log home either – one with unique rooflines, custom windows, and a 10-foot foundation,” she says.
The general contractor she found was willing to learn, but had many questions along the way. A standard element of its Total Home Solution, PrecisionCraft sent a technical advisor to the site to help install the log structure. They were also was available for assistance throughout the project.
Carol’s ideas were radical enough that the contractor questioned the design. “My kitchen design looks more like a restaurant than a residential kitchen,” she says. “I have no standard cupboards or countertops. The majority of the room is made up of separate and movable pieces.” Stainless steel equipment and utility lighting is also restaurant-quality, but Carol finds this form and function to be timeless and can be rearranged to suit the cooks in the family. “I even have a stainless steel sink in the nearby laundry room for added prep space or for cleaning fresh-caught trout,” says Carol.
Also new to the builder was a cement floor installed throughout the home. From Carol’s standpoint, cement allowed her to easily integrate radiant heat, it created a faux stone look she loved, and it’s easy to clean. “It looks very natural and the stone look works perfectly with the log interior,” she says.
The rest of the home is everything but utilitarian. Carol’s background in art and design is evident with her choice of furniture and accent items. The semi-formal dining room spills out onto the spacious deck through French doors.
The deck was placed on two sides of the home with a gazebo-like corner structure that houses the spa. “Sitting in a warm spa while watching the wildlife walk by and viewing the scenery is very peaceful,” says Carol. “Being nearer the outdoors is the sole purpose of a deck’s design.”
Back inside, the soaring two-story great room is flooded with natural light by three levels of glass windows. The focal point of the room is the custom stone fireplace, upon which hangs one of Carol’s vintage French posters that she collects. “I love to bring in pieces of old art or furniture and work it into the new setting,” says Carol. “This can be hard to implement, but I just use what I love and it works.”
The first-floor master bedroom has its own fireplace, private balcony, and two walk-in closets. “I had a unique idea about a stone clad-shower and spa that the tile layer was not sure about,” says Carol. “With a little persistence and someone willing to try, the project turned out great.” She also chose a cutting-edge Kohler lavatory and faucet that blends a bold look within a casual setting.
The second floor was built with the kids in mind. They have their own loft with an entertainment center and comfortable video-game seating. This is flanked by two large bedrooms that offer plenty of storage for seasonal clothing and items that stay with the home when the family travels back home to Florida. A split full bathroom on this level solves the problem of two people needing the facilities at once.
One of Carol’s biggest challenges was her request for a 10-foot ceiling height on the lower level. The local contractor did not have cement forms that were that tall enough, but after much discussion and encouragement, he fashioned new ones to accommodate Carol’s plan. In fact, it worked so well that other homeowners in the area are building 10-foot foundations.
The lower level was designed to host parties and entertain guests. It contains a pool table, ping-pong table, wet bar, fireplace, and French doors that open to the back yard. The tall ceiling height opens up the room.
Carol’s inspiration for the exterior came from designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright, who used the term “organic architecture” for the use of natural materials such as stone and wood. Carol adopted this philosophy and chose a hand-scribed ponderosa pine exterior with tapered Swedish cope corner notching, burgundy trim, the imposing stone foundation, and a composite slate roof.
Customizing a log-home project such as this commands attention to detail, so Carol recommends hiring an on-site supervisor to other like-minded trailblazers. The supervisor can keep blueprints on track, answer questions, coordinate the construction, interpret the unique details, and keep the communication flowing.