"Old West"Country's Best, July / August of 2010
Along the banks of a southern Idaho river, a homeowner sought out to build a place where he could indulge his passion for fly-fishing and his family could soak up the isolated beauty of the 11,000-foot mountain peaks. But the breathtaking site east of Sun Valley demanded a get-away that wouldn’t clash with is pristine surroundings. The answer: a log home with carefully chosen detailing to give it a historical presence.
“[The owners] wanted something that was very rustic and kind of old-fashioned,” says Matt Franklin, chief architect of M.T.N Architects in Meridian, Idaho. “All the forms of the building are pretty straightforward and simple. They wanted it to look like something that had been there for 100 years.”
The house is the result of a collaboration between M.T.N Architects and its partner, PrecisionCraft Log & Timber Homes; Kearns, McGinnis and Vandeberg, Inc.; Lone Star Interior Design; and, of course, the homeowners.
The two-story Idaho log home has a master suite on the main level, and two bedrooms and a roomy loft on the upper level. Downstairs, living and dining areas adjoin the kitchen, making a large open space. An angled bump-out, or prow, in the living/dining area offers dramatic views of the mountains and valley through two stories of glass. Outside, a porch that encircles the main level more than doubles the 2,243 square feet of living space, creating plenty of room to store firewood and fishing gear, as well as to relax under cover.
The log portion of the handcrafted home was designed by M.T.N Architects and assembled at PrecisionCraft before it was moved to the site and completed.
“It’s a handcrafted house,” the architect explains. “Each log is a natural log with its own dimensions and taper. Our craftsmen here in the yard, once we’ve put together a set of plans, cut all the notches and stack the logs by hand. Once it’s all erected and put together, we break it down and truck it to the site and re-erect it.”
PrecisionCraft reassembled the exterior walls and other log sections of the home on a foundation that Erin McGinnis and Kearns, McGinnis and Vandenberg, Inc. provided. Then McGinnis took over and completed the home by installing the roof, upper level, interior partition walls, windows, trim, masonry and staircase.
The bathroom floors were finished using local quarry stone, and interior wood paneling was milled from recycled timbers, still showing marks from the saw used to cut it. With many of the raw materials local and local subcontractors on the job, transportation and shipping was minimal. “I think it’s as green as you can make a log house,” the builder claims.
Although the house is meant mostly for season use, a roof insulated to R-50 and a conventional forced-air heating system make it usable any time of year its owners want.
Finishing details to help the building look aged were key. “We helped the owner with his vision of this cabin being something that was indigenous to the spot, that looked like it had been there a while,” says Terri Demun of Lone Star Interior Design. “We used materials with age and real patina, things that were really old, that didn’t have someone pretending they were old. Our theme was things with age.”
A woven rug, made locally, contains pieces of old cotton and wool. Leather chairs are really broken in with time, not just made to look that way. Some of the curtains are made with grain bags. Even finishes on the roof and outside walls are designed to make materials look broken in.
“I loved going over and working on it,” the interior designer recalls. “I mean, how can you not? You pull up there, and you go up on the deck or into the house and take in that view looking down river. It always was incredibly gorgeous, whether there was snow there, whether it was raining, it didn’t matter. It’s a really special place.”