Most homeowners build their log cabin and then decide how to decorate it. But Lisa Trahan and John Mathieu aren’t most homeowners.
“My husband and our son, Spencer, are avid hunters, so we pretty much had our living room decorated like a taxidermy shop,” says Lisa, laughing about the family’s primary home in Manchester, New Hampshire. “The deal was, when we built the cabin, all the animals were going.”
And so they did — to a beautiful 1,140-square-foot eastern pine cabin in the foothills of the Granite State’s White Mountains.
Today, the partridges, ducks, deer, moose and other trophies look right at home in John and Lisa’s 2-year-old hunting cabin — which makes sense, given that the 5-acre site has always been about hunting.
“I had a little camp up there originally, and it was pretty rundown,” John recalls of the ramshackle place he’d owned since the late 1990s. “So I decided it was either put money in the old hunting camp, which needed a lot of work, or just demolish it and start from scratch.”
Once he and Lisa realized what they really wanted was a comfortable, year-round log cabin, the decision was made. Demolition it was.
After visiting trade shows and doing lots of research, John and Lisa fell in love with a log package from New Hampshire-based Coventry Log Homes. Not only were the logs harvested locally, but their clear finish makes the smallish cabin feel airier than it might if the stain were darker. And, naturally, the finish also provides the ideal backdrop for John and Spencer’s animals.
The cabin’s open concept floor plan means family and friends can relax in the living room and still chat with Lisa, who says the kitchen is one of her favorite places to be. Though not a hunter herself, she’s happy to cook whatever the guys bag. Just don’t ask her to taste it.
“I don’t eat any of it,” she says with a laugh. “It’s really not my thing.”
Surprisingly, the country was never much her thing, either.
“John and I are kind of like ‘Green Acres,’” she admits. “‘New York is where I’d rather stay…’ But now I love it up here. I really do.”
Log cabins have a way of bringing people around.
Focus on the Future
John and Lisa built their cabin with retirement in mind, hoping one day to live in it all summer before heading south to escape the harsh New England winter. In the meantime, they make use of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom retreat as often as possible.
“I go up all year long,” says John, an equipment operator for the state highway department. “I hunt every fall. There’s great snowmobiling in the winter and great trout fishing in summer.”
Lisa, who works for an insurance agency, gets there less frequently, but is as eager as her husband to one day retire and start summering at the cabin.
With a caveat. “We need to add a screened-in porch because of the big bugs!” she exclaims.
Beyond that, there’s not much John and Lisa would change. Builder Bruce Elliott of Bruce Elliott Carpentry was a joy to work with, and the modestly sized cabin has plenty of space for the family and their bird dog, Ruger.
It’s also a nice parent-free getaway for Spencer, a recent college grad, who heads to the cabin — sans his mom and dad — whenever he can.
“He informed me that he’s already got plans to have a party up here,” says John. With the nearest neighbor more than a quarter-mile away, “they can do all the hootin’ and hollerin’ they want, and no one will hear.”
Not that anyone who did hear would complain; they’d likely ask to join in the fun. Whether it’s sitting around the outdoor fire pit design, hiking to the nearby pond with rod in hand or simply relaxing in the gorgeous surroundings, John and Lisa’s mountain cabin feels like a woodsy welcome mat.
And to think it all started with a few too many animal heads.
Square footage: 1,140
Architect/designer; log provider; stairs: Coventry Log Homes (800-308-7505; coventryloghomes.com)
Builder/general contractor; landscape designer: Bruce Elliott Carpentry (603-787-6197)
Front door: Therma-Tru Doors (800-843-7628; thermatru.com)
Interior doors: solid pine
Knobs/hardware: Schlage (888-805-9837; schlage.com)
Roofing: IKO Roofing Products — 35-year Architectural Shingles (iko.com)
Stain: Behr (877-237-6158; behr.com)
Windows: Andersen Windows & Doors – 400 Series Tilt Wash (800-426-4261; andersenwindows.com)