While visiting a friend in Crested Butte, Colorado, a decade ago, Florida resident Kevin Logan eschewed typical souvenirs, such as refrigerator magnets and key chains. Instead he wanted a more lasting memento to bring home to his wife Susan: the deed to a 1-acre lot offering panoramic views of the snowy ski slopes.
Susan recalls that the keepsake was a welcome but very unexpected surprise. “Those mountains just call to you,” explains Susan, who fell in love with Colorado years ago. “Besides, Kevin’s enthusiasm was contagious,” she says.
“He said, ‘You’re going to love the town,'” Susan continues, noting that Crested Butte is home to roughly 1,600 residents. “It’s one of the last cowboy towns left–small, remote and laid-back.”
Kevin and Susan were a perfect pair when it came time to design and build their second home: Kevin owns a lumber company in Florida, and Susan is an interior designer. Together the couple envisioned a home that captured the charm of an Old West lodge where they could vacation with their three daughters, Annie, 16, Sarah Jane, 14, and Katie, 11.
Susan also welcomed the chance to spread her designer’s wings to create a warm ranch welcome–a definite departure from the beach cottages and Mediterranean-style homes she’s grown accustomed to outfitting in Florida. But that didn’t mean she was gung ho for Grizzly Adams’ style, either.
“We didn’t want just a log cabin,” she explains. “I like a mixture of different textures and treatments to give it a little variety.”
The designer’s solution? Structural log trusses paired with stick-framed walls that introduce wood accents to the home without locking Susan into the wall-to-wall-log look.
Home Sweet Hybrid
The Logans weren’t the first to appreciate the versatility and style of a mixed-media design. Architect Bob Brotherton of Sunlit Architecture began designing this type of hybrid home 15 years ago at a client’s request.
“Those owners didn’t want a log wall in the house, but they wanted big trusses and big beams, akin to a timber frame,” explains Bob, who applied similar principles to the Kevin and Susan’s 5,000-square-foot floorplan, though their home does bear more interior woodwork.
According to Timber Works Inc. president Scott Moss, who manufactured and erected the Engelmann-spruce fan trusses that support the Logans’ roof, this hybrid design has multiple advantages for both the owners and the builder.
“On a full-stack log home, you’re going to have movement, shrinkage and settling,” he says. “In these post-and-beam configurations, we eliminate that.”
Incorporating a fair amount of drywall and other non-log surfaces is easier on the subcontractors, too, Scott explains. The reason being that running mechanicals, such as wiring and plumbing, is much easier to do behind hollow drywall than through solid logs. “Trying to chase plumbing through log walls can be a bit of a challenge,” Scott says.
New Life, Smart Style
The Logans’ general contractor, Scott Hargrove of Hargrove Construction, complemented the home’s log accents by adorning the exterior stick-framed walls with 3-inch-thick slabs of Colorado spruce. He dovetailed the planks at the corners of the home and used chinking in between, creating the illusion of stacked square logs.
Inside, Scott used reclaimed Douglas fir salvaged from an old slaughterhouse in Pueblo, Colorado, to fashion the exquisite architectural details found throughout the home. “I like the history, the nail and bolt holes and the stains,” he says of the richly hued timber, which he used to create the doors, trim, paneling, bookcases and bar. “It has a little different patina and luster than new wood. It’s the real deal.”
The impact of the reclaimed lumber is obvious from the moment guests walk through the front door. An 8-foot-high wall of recycled timbers stretches to the height of a chair rail, separating the foyer from the kitchen. Above the chair rail, drywall painted in neutral tones provides gallery space for paintings of cowboys and girls, establishing the theme of the home.
In the master bedroom, Kevin and Susan turned to the old fir paneling once again, but here, they added chinking between the slabs to create a more casual feel. “It gives it an Old West look,” Susan notes, especially when paired with accessories like a tooled-leather settee and bedside lamps crafted from well-worn cowboy boots.
Throughout the home, rough-hewn wood treatments overhead and underfoot further enhance the home’s rustic character. Circular-sawn Douglas fir planks cover the vaulted ceilings, and 100-year-old reclaimed heart-pine floors, scarred with age, seem only to improve with each generation of abuse. Scott used a buffer on the floor to eliminate any splinters. “But we didn’t sand it down because we wanted the old surface to show through,” he says.
“I was looking for durability,” explains Susan, who furnished her home with leather and sturdy antiques that can withstand her family’s active lifestyle. “I want people to sit down, hang out and have a cup of hot chocolate, especially after we’ve been skiing, snowshoeing or hiking all day. It’s not just a showcase house,” she insists.
Indeed, it’s a home: a comfortable Colorado getaway that has enabled Susan and Kevin to collect the best souvenirs of all–memories of time spent with family and friends.
More on this story ran in the November 2006 issue of Log Home Design.