If you're like us, daydreaming about winning the lottery translates into a vision of the ultimate log home with every possible luxury. If money were no object, which posh amenities would come first on your wish list?
Maybe you dream of living like James Bond, with a bevy of sports cars in a heated garage that resembles an 18th-century barn—not to mention a 100-yard basement firing range underneath the driveway. Or perhaps you'd rather play Esther Williams in a heated lap pool that's both inside and outside the home, thanks to a retractable glass wall.
While these features may seem over-the-top for many folks, they're proof that anything's possible in today's luxury log homes. And some buyers will spend millions (and millions more) to build an exclusive abode brimming with all the latest trends and technology.
Enter the baby boom generation. Weaned on Bonanza and Davy Crockett, many boomers now have the wherewithal to buy luxurious log homes as primary residences or as second and third homes.
"Most of our high-end clients are successful entrepreneurs, who have worked years to earn their money and now they're rewarding themselves with a log home," says Matt Franklin, design department manager at Precision Craft Log Homes in Meridian, Idaho.
Builder Tom Dobell, who constructs Alpine Log Homes in Jackson Hole, agrees. "Recently I've built homes for two Dell computer executives, a shopping-center developer and an engineer who designed side-mirrors for cars."
Log homes are also becoming popular in the cash-laden celebrity world. While the producers—log home producers, that is—would love to name drop, confidentiality agreements keep these identities guarded more closely than our nation's nuclear secrets. [Hint: One is a female media mogul who rules daytime TV.]
And don't rule out the mainstream buyer. More "everyday" people are looking to infuse little slices of luxury into their log homes, too. Whether it's a spa-style master bath or an indoor rock-climbing wall, choosing a few special amenities works for many buyers—and their budgets.
After talking with many industry leaders, it's clear that new design trends are emerging in the luxury log home market. Here's what more buyers are requesting these days.
Big Backlash. Say goodbye to supersized McMansions. In many types of residential construction, buyers are downsizing square footage—relatively speaking.
"Most of that living space is dedicated to common areas for relaxing and entertaining," explains Dennis Kelvie, plan development manager at Rocky Mountain Log Homes in Hamilton, Montana.
Hobby Habitat. Elite buyers are also designing spaces specifically for their hobbies.
Chuck Meyer, vice president of Town & Country Cedar Homes in Petoskey, Michigan, recalls a client who installed a computerized golf simulator—allowing him to "play" the world's most famous courses from his basement.
Details, Details. While today's luxury log homes may be smaller than their ancestors, they're often equipped with the very best in materials and technology.
Think custom cabinetry, professional-grade kitchen appliances, radiant heat, wireless Internet access and plasma TVs (sometimes concealed behind retractable paintings).
One Of A Kind. Indeed, upscale buyers seek out building materials that are unique. "We recently had a client ship ancient stones from the streets of Jerusalem for his flooring," says Chris Bishop, manager of client services at Alpine Log Homes in Victor, Montana.
Awesome Angles. Another design trend: angled walls.
"Tilting an interior wall by 20 degrees to meet a log wall adds some 'wow' factor to your layout," says Russell Palmer of Palmer DesignWorks in Frisco, Colorado.
Another bright idea: Design your roof to include a large insulated glass panel for stargazing.
Size Matters. Nothing adds drama like large timbers. That's why upscale buyers are requesting large (even massive) posts, beams and trusses.
Guest Relations. With smaller homes, some buyers design (or add) a guest cottage or bunkhouse.
"The latest trend we're seeing is a mother-in-law suite above the garage that's equipped with an elevator and connected to the main house via a breezeway," adds Jay Karusoff, national sales manager for Centennial Log Homes in Columbia Falls, Montana.
Posh Porches. Today's outside living areas are often as well appointed as their interior counterparts, with elegantly faced fireplaces, full kitchens (wood burning pizza ovens are popular), ceiling-mounted radiant-heat units and designer furniture covered in the latest indoor/outdoor fabrics.