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Woodland Beauty: Handcrafted Utah Log Cabin

A new log home is built to look like it’s always been part of the surrounding mountain landscape.
by Regina Cole | Photos by Heidi Long

Perched 8,000 feet above sea level, the 5,000-square-foot, six-bedroom Huntsman family vacation retreat demonstrates the beauty of handcrafting, which is evident everywhere, from the exterior walls down to the dining room table. Western red cedar logs measuring an average 14 inches in diameter comprise the Huntsmans’ mountain getaway.

The 8,000-foot elevation makes for cold, snowy winters. Unlike conventional house construction, which aims to reduce heat loss through the envelope, log houses hold the heat absorbed by their massive walls. Cedar's porosity imparts especially good thermal properties.

“I always wanted a log cabin,” says Kade Huntsman, a Salt Lake City orthopedic surgeon who definitely wanted to emphasize the log aspect of his home. “This was my chance to have one, so I couldn’t see using anything but real logs.”

“In that Scofield, UT, subdivision, this house is known as ‘the one with the beautiful logs,’” says Robert Lockerby of Boise, Idaho-based Summit Handcrafted Log Homes, which produced the logs for the home. The logs attribute their satiny appearance to the company’s Latewood finish.

“We harvest the trees late in the season, after they have finished their annual growth cycle. Then we peel off the bark and the cambium with a high-pressure water jet,” he explains. “Cedar has flared bases and a lot of knots and burls. Treating it this way highlights the natural character of the wood.”

Builder Ryan Turner often applies tongue-and-groove sheathing to the ceilings of log homes, as evidenced here in the upper-level master suite. Although most interior walls in the house feature log interior walls, the bathrooms and bedrooms on the upper floor are finished with smooth plaster.

With five children, ages 7 to 20, Kade and his wife, Kalli, use their second home to fish, water ski, ice fish and snowmobile in the magnificent wild country near the Manti-La Sal National Forest and Scofield State Park.

“For us, it’s a place to go play,” Kalli says. “Our retreat is only an hour and a half from home, but when we get there, our blood pressure drops!”

Green slate and knotty alder define the luxurious master bathroom. To ensure that the shower stall would fit against the irregular surface of the logs, designer Karen Teerlink specified a shallow second wall; it hides plumbing and provides a flat surface to which the slate tiles adhere.

Their vacation-home building process began in 2002, soon after the family moved back west to Kade’s and Kalli’s home state. They found a dramatic lot high above the Scofield Reservoir and contacted Lockerby. He, in turn, connected the Huntsmans with builder Ryan Turner of Red Wolf Construction in Springville, UT.

Turner put together the handcrafted logs — each cut and numbered to fit — built the interior walls, floors, ceilings, stairs and doorways, and installed the windows to finish the house.

To account for settling, the builder installed settling jacks on vertical interior posts. He also added tan-colored chinking to the interior walls to help finish them off.

The kitchen's knotty alder island and cabinetry coordinate with the cedar logs. Above the stove's exhaust fan, stone blocks add another massive, organic element. Granite counters and slate flooring echo the soft, earth-toned hues that suit the interior.

“Settling is a two-year process,” he says. “Most is done by the time we finish, but these logs are so massive that it continues for a while.”

“For a year or so, we’d see sawdust as the house settled,” Kade recalls. “Thankfully, Ryan alerted us to the fact that, with real logs, there’s a lot of shrinkage. We loved watching his crew come in and lower the roof down as the house contracted.”

Under that roof, the interior features an open floor plan organized around a soaring great room, which is flanked by the kitchen and dining areas, with a master bedroom suite at the opposite end. The children’s bedrooms and another master suite occupy the upper-level loft. The walkout basement features a theater room and another master suite, in addition to the garage.

“We want this house to function as a family gathering place after our children are grown and have children of their own,” Kalli explains. “The garage has another master suite above the cars.”

A tall case clock standing just inside the front door is one of the few timepieces in the house. "We bought it after we realized that we never knew the time," homeowner Kalli Huntsman laughs. A door opens into a laundry chute. An afterthought, it is now indispensable to the family of seven.

Kalli and Kade chose hard-wearing, comfortable furniture upholstered in earth-toned shades of green that happily coexist with the dominant wood tones.

“Kade knew that he wanted a green slate floor,” Kalli states. “That, and the logs, drove the color choices. We chose fabrics we wouldn’t have to worry about when kids come in muddy or wet.”

For kitchen and bath design, she turned to Karen and Steven Teerlink of Teerlink Cabinet in Holladay, UT. Karen handled the built-ins, including the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and toy storage for the children. Although not a log-home specialist, her experience has helped her learn a few lessons over the years.

“A particular challenge is the irregular surface of the walls,” she says. “That’s where craftsmanship comes in — things have to be scribed to the wall.”

Additional steps had to be taken for plumbing to adjust during the settling process, and the settling presents a challenge to hanging a picture on the walls. But Kade wouldn’t have it any other way. “This is what I dreamed of all those years,” he states. “This is the real deal.”

Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 5,000 (including a walk-out basement, not shown)
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 4.5
Log species: western red cedar
Builder: Red Wolf Construction, Mapleton, UT (801-319-1700;
Chinking; sealants; stain: Sashco, Brighton, CO (800-767-5656;
Interior kitchen and bath design: Teerlink Cabinet, Holladay, UT (801-278-4400;
Log provider: Summit Handcrafted Log Homes, Boise, ID (866-610-4074;
Roofing: ASC Building Products, Sacramento, CA (800-360-2477;

Published in Country's Best Cabins
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One Response

  1. If available, please send a floor plan with dimensions for this design. The plan is very interesting.

    George MarksDecember 9, 2010 @ 1:40 pmReply

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