For many years David and Susan vacationed with Susan’s family on sandy shores of Lake Thompson in northern Wisconsin. Whether it was wakeboarding, pulling inner tubes, swimming, fishing during the summer, or hopping on a snowmobile or cross-country ski trail during the winter, the area had much to offer and was never crowded. They hoped to built a vacation home in this quaint area someday to relive those happy memories with their own families.
During one of their visits, the couple took a leisurely bicycle ride around the lake. To their surprise, they found a new subdivision taking shape along the western shore. When they meandered down the gravel road and past all the empty building lots, they found a spectacular site — one with views of the front and back of two different lakes. “We had been looking for property for about a year when we came across this piece and instantly fell in love with the lakes,” says Susan.
“We originally thought it was a peninsula, but when we looked at the map, we saw that there was a smaller unnamed lake on one side of the property,” says David. “It didn’t take us long to decide that this was the one.”
During the research phase, the couple started toying with the idea of building a log home. David especially had vivid childhood memories of living in a log home with his parents. “The feeling you get in a log home cannot be explained,” he says. “You have to feel it. It gives you the true feeling of being at home and truly comfortable.”
David and Susan began to seek out a company that could build their home. They wanted someone from the area who could connect them with a builder and also provide one-stop shopping for all the home’s interior materials and not just a shell. They selected Golden Eagle Log Homes of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.
“They have a complete package that includes a choice of wood floors, cabinetry, counters, plumbing fixtures, and fireplace stone,” says David. Other samples on display in their showroom include sinks, spa tubs, carpeting, windows, and roofing colors. They even recommended a local builder/dealer, Coffen Construction, which would take on the log project and had handled hundreds of custom home projects.
The highest priority during the design phase was the ability to capture views of both lakes from within the home. After working with Golden Eagle’s design team, the couple determined a plan that had two full window walls on either side of the home. The interior required an open, unobstructed view of both from one end of the home to the other.
Since the majority of entertaining would take place in the kitchen that opened to the great room and dining area, it made sense to use that area as an anchor point for the plan. “With the help of Golden Eagle Log Home kitchen designer Janet Felton, we were able to create a kitchen that kept all the major elements to the side and not block the windows,” Susan says. “The kitchen cabinets and all the appliances were kept to the sidewalls, as were the fireplace and stairway in the great room. That provided a clear view all the way through.”
Susan chose three-foot-deep granite countertops on the kitchen island (instead of the normal two-foot countertops) to accommodate all the roasters, coolers, salad bowls and dishes that accompany holiday gatherings. The raised breakfast bar area has seating for 12. A substantial kitchen table handles the larger meals and the open design keeps the room from feeling crowded.
The prow side of the home features a 28-foot tall wall of glass that has an unobstructed view of Lake Thompson. The Golden Eagle designer suggested a way to keep the view from the room unobstructed: Rather than placing the deck right off the great room, the deck was situated to the side, so the railing would not block the view.
The front of the home, with its equally majestic window wall, faces the smaller lake. Sitting in either the great room or in the loft offers a full view of both lakes.
Third on the “must-have” list was outdoor access. “We knew we’d have snowy, wet or dirty boots or feet into the home and we wanted the back door, garage door, powder room and laundry room all in the same location,” says Susan. “We then decided to use a durable stone tile in this area for easy clean-up.” The balance of the home is covered with either knotty hickory flooring or cushy carpeting.
The laundry room was designed to accommodate large piles of laundry. With two walls of cupboards (for spare towels and cleaning supplies), and 18 feet of countertops (for folding or storing kitchen equipment), the laundry room has become an indispensable area of the home.
Another area that received a lot of attention during the design phase was the lower level. This is the designated kids’ zone; it includes a kitchenette for cooking pizzas, room for game tables, video games, an indoor spa tub, and access to the patio and fire pit. “The lower level turned out better than anticipated,” says Susan. “It keeps the action and associated sounds in one place.”
A bonus space was created when they were designing the foundation. “Our builder, Mike Coffen, steered us toward this alternative,” says David.
With the use of Spancrete garage floor, they were given the option of building a bonus room under the garage, which is usually very difficult. “For just an extra $24,000, we added more than 1,000 square feet to the home for more storage or a possible theater room,” says David.
The relaxed décor was selected throughout the home to reflect the rustic ambiance of the Northwoods. The use of leather chairs and quilts, bedcovers, hand-hewn wood beds, and wrought iron chandeliers sets an easy-going tone. Beautiful accents can be found in on the walls in each room; the details and color palette were coordinated with the pre-purchased furniture and linens. Embossed designs of trees or pinecones were affixed and glazed over for a 3-D effect in some of the rooms and free-hand patterns of plaid or stripes applied to others, to give each space an identity all its own.
Behind the scenes is a full-scale home security system to give David and Susan some peace of mind. It ties into the home’s sound system and to several web cameras. “Keeping an eye on the home from wherever we are helps us relax. Now we can spot human or animal intruders, we also can keep track of any weather issues that could damage the home,” says David. “Getting to our cabin is only a click away.”