There’s this new phenomenon in construction that homeowners are trying to describe. It’s not strictly log construction or timber construction.

More than ever before, a mix of wood, stone, and other exotic or regional materials is used to realize a home that truly blends with its natural surroundings.

The buzzword currently used is “hybrid,” as in a hybrid of log and timber. Here’s a look at some typical traits of a hybrid home.

Arrange the natural materials in a practical and aesthetic design

Owners Ron and Kay Ann Andrews let the landscape dictate the materials that would be used to build their northeastern Pennsylvania home — fieldstone, eastern white pine logs, and cedar shake. The countryside played an important part in the design of the home as well.

“Building a total log home on top of an exposed hillside would seem out of place and a little too obvious,” says Ron. “To blend in with the view meant incorporating lots of stone and other natural materials like cedar shake. The colors, textures and single-level construction kept this home close to the land.”

Rough-cut cedar shakes that lighten over time provide linear contrast to the roofline and walls. Stacked stonework resembles an earthy stone ledge and, with the log walls, provide a natural architectural flow to the one-story home.

Kuhns Bros. Log Homes model home manager Roger Hanna, who served as the liaison, believes this blending of materials into a hybrid home is the ultimate customization technique. “Using logs in combination with stone and shakes creates a certain harmony that wraps you in the landscape,” he says.

The stone came from nearby property they own. Piles of fieldstone from years of clearing the land were chiseled and dry-stacked to form the two fireplaces that make up the center and end walls. Additional stone was brought in from Ron and Kay Ann’s family farm to complete the exterior walls and patio areas that surround the outdoor pool.

Mix interior materials for a unique presentation of colors and textures
The rooms inside hybrid homes augment the exteriors with natural materials and tones. “Each room has a different amount of light and color which provides an interplay with the variances of stone, logs and painted walls,” says Kay Ann. “I look at the rock and wood and see shades of burgundy that I then used to choose the furniture and materials for the couch, window treatments, and bedding.” The apple green faux painted walls complement the burgundy decor and brings the cabinets, wood trim and beams to the forefront.

Hybrids provide flexibility in design. The 24-foot tall timber frames, salvaged from a barn that belonged to Kay Ann’s great-grandparents, outlines the open kitchen and dining room. “We started out with planning just a simple ranch home, but we wanted to blend with our surroundings and incorporated the natural materials in our possession into the plan,” says Ron.

Lighting shows contrast. In the kitchen (which adjoins the dining room), curly maple cabinets with mossy green face frames accent the timbers and offset the drywall. Ambient (general) lighting was set into the soaring timbers, and accent lighting was hung from the ceiling to show off the island. Task lighting directly over the counters provides specific lighting needs when cooking.

Combine contrasting cabinetry, flooring and walls
The bar, located in the trophy room, is dressed with locally made cherry cabinets, tiled backsplash and grass cloth wallpaper. The cherry was selected to stand out from the red oak flooring and chestnut barn timbers and barnwood mantel. The combination of materials and colors draws the eye from place to place in the room, providing interest and distinction to each wooden detail.

Intersect the primary materials in the great room
This is where a hybrid creates some distance from other homes with an interaction of timbers, drywall, stone, and log. Two walls in this room are covered with three-dimensional green grass cloth. This neutral backdrop, made of heavy-duty paper, was applied to cover the one-inch plywood wall that was used to provide strength when hanging up the trophies and artwork.

Multi-faceted homes, such as the Andrews residence, usually take a little more time to build than the average log or timber home. “The various craftsmen that worked on the design were not rushed to meet a deadline. We knew that each component would need time to develop as each layer was added to the home,” says Ron. “It was an overwhelming process at times, but the final look was well worth the effort.”

There were more photos of this home in the Summer 2007 issue of Custom Wood Homes.

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