"Western Character"Fall 2007, Custom Wood Homes
During their 24 years of marriage, Vern and Dottie Ratzlaff have been partners in their financial planning business in Las Vegas. When the couple decided several years ago to embark on a joint venture of creating a log and timber home community in Mount Carmel, Utah, their Quarter Circle H Ranch was the first home built on the 350-acre property located near Zion National Park. A portion of the development, about 120 acres, has been in Dottie’s family for 50 years.
“I always wanted to have a log home, so it’s one of those things that worked out great,” says Vern, who notes that the community, which comprises 160 sites, is the first of its kind in Southern Utah. “I got a log home, and we’re doing it for a lot of other people.”
The Ratzlaff’s expansive home, with more than 8,000 square feet of living space, sits on five acres, perched atop a massive bluff overlooking Long Valley. Located near four national parks and several state parks, including Zion, Bryce Canyon, the north rim of the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell, the site offers a variety of recreational opportunities.
When they started planning their log home, the couple selected a floor plan from Idaho-based PrecisionCraft Log and Timber Homes. They worked with architect Tim Schafer of M.T.N Architects, PrecisionCraft’s architectural firm, to modify the design to fit their needs. The spacious and open great room, kitchen, and dining areas provide an area for the Ratzlaffs to do their frequent entertaining. And with a master bedroom on the main floor, two bedrooms upstairs, a loft large enough to accommodate an office and library, design has everything they need. Added to that, the recreation room and bunkroom in the basement provide an ideal spot for their 10 grandchildren to play when they visit.
“The general layout is a pretty formal, but it’s still pretty open,” says Shafer. Any serious cook would be drawn to the kitchen. The custom-built cherry cabinets feature grape leaves carved around the top, as well as “garage door” cabinets that hid small appliances like the toaster and blender. The couple selected all Viking appliances, including an ice maker, a bread warmer and two dishwashers: “You can get everything washed at one time,” Vern says, “and you don’t have to come back and refill it.” The granite countertops and slate floors complete the elegant look, a nice contrast to the rustic wood elements.
To achieve the old Western look, the couple selected PrecisionCraft’s 12-inch double tongue-and-groove Western red cedar for the exterior walls. The logs have a draw-knifed finish – roughed up for a rustic texture. The load-bearing logs, both inside and outside, are Douglas fir. Additionally, the Ratzlaffs selected gnarly, rough “character posts” for the interior, Schafer explains, as well as dark stains. Some of the character cedar logs used inside came off of the property.
“We wanted it to be pretty large looking, and we wanted it to look like it had been there a long time,” says Vern.