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Old West: An Idaho Log Home

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

Expansive exterior decks finished in Alaskan yellow cedar provide a good place for a meal, a conversation, or a place to relax and take in the view.


Along the banks of a southern Idaho river, a homeowner sought out to build a place where he could indulge his passion for fly-fishing and his family could soak up the isolated beauty of 11,000-foot mountain peaks. But the breathtaking site east of Sun Valley demanded a getaway that wouldn’t clash with its pristine surroundings. The answer: a log home with carefully chosen detailing to give it a historical presence.


“[The owners] wanted something that was very rustic and kind of old-fashioned,” says Matt Franklin, chief architect of Mountain Architects in Meridian, Idaho. “All the forms of the building are pretty straightforward and simple. They wanted it to look like something that had been there for 100 years.”


The house is the result of a collaboration between Mountain Architects and its partner, PrecisionCraft Log and Timber Homes; Kearns, McGinnis and Vandenberg, Inc.; Lone Star Interior Design; and, of course, the homeowners.



The two-story home has a master suite on the main level, and two bedrooms and a roomy loft on the upper level. Downstairs, living and dining areas adjoin the kitchen, making a large open space. An angled bump-out, or prow, in the living/dining area offers dramatic views of the mountains and valley through two stories of glass. Outside, a porch that encircles the main level more than doubles the 2,243 square feet of living space, creating plenty of room to store firewood and fishing gear, as well as to relax under cover.

The log portion of the home was designed by Mountain Architects and assembled at PrecisionCraft before it was moved to the site and completed.

The kitchen achieves old-time appeal with appliances that incorporate blue enamel panels. Coupled with natural wood cabinets and a farmhouse sink, the appliances help make the kitchen comfortable and informal, but completely up to date in performance.

“It’s a handcrafted house,” the architect explains. “Each log is a natural log with its own dimensions and taper. Our craftsmen here in the yard, once we’ve put together a set of plans, cut all the notches and stack the logs by hand. Once it’s all erected and put together, we break it down and truck it to the site and re-erect it.”

PrecisionCraft reassembled the exterior walls and other log sections of the home on a foundation that Erin McGinnis and Kearns, McGinnis and Vandenberg, Inc. provided. Then McGinnis took over and completed the home by installing the roof, upper level, interior partition walls, windows, trim, masonry and staircase.

One end of the home’s great room extends outward in an angled prow and enhances views of the valley and mountain peaks. The dual-sided stone fireplace and chimney are made from material quarried in Oakley, Idaho, with the opposite side serving the exterior deck.

The bathroom floors were finished using local quarry stone, and interior wood paneling was milled from recycled timbers, still showing marks from the saw used to cut it. With many of the raw materials local and local subcontractors on the job, transportation and shipping was minimal. “I think it’s as green as you can make a log house,” the builder claims.

Although the house is meant mostly for seasonal use, a roof insulated to R-50 and a conventional forced-air heating system make it usable any time of year its owners want.

The main-level master bedroom suite includes a set of doors that open directly to a covered wraparound porch. Interior designer Terri DeMun used a variety of materials to impart a sense of age to the home’s interior, including old grain bags that were fashioned into curtains.


Finishing details to help the building look aged were key. “We helped the owner with his vision of this cabin being something that was indigenous to the spot, that looked like it had been there a while,” says Terri DeMun of Lone Star Interior Design. “We used materials with age and real patina, things that were really old, that didn’t have someone pretending they were old. Our theme was things with age.”

A woven rug, made locally, contains pieces of old cotton and wool. Leather chairs are really broken in with time, not just made to look that way. Some of the curtains are made with grain bags. Even finishes on the roof and outside walls are designed to make materials look broken in.

“I loved going over and working on it,” the interior designer recalls. “I mean, how can you not? You pull up there, and you go up on the deck or into the house and take in that view looking down the river. It always was incredibly gorgeous, whether there was snow there, whether it was raining, it didn’t matter. It’s a really special place.”

Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 2,243
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Log species: Douglas fir
Architect: Mountain Architects, Meridian, ID (800-729-1320;
Builder: Kearns, McGinnis and Vandenberg, Inc., Ketchum, ID (208-726-4843;
Dining room chandelier; great room lighting: Lindley Lighting, Los Angeles, CA (323-653-6840)

A loft overlooking the open, main-level great room has access to the same panoramic views from a more intimate setting. Also on the upper level are two bedrooms and a bath.

Great room armchair, buffet and love seat; interior designer; loft chairs and table; master bedroom bed, bedding and nightstand: Lone Star Interior Design, Antiques and Home Furnishings, Hailey, ID (208-788-9158)
Great room coffee table: American Garage Antiques, Los Angeles, CA (323-951-9418;
Great room rug; master bedroom rug: Line of the Spirit, Creston, CO (719-256-4739)
Great room side table: Sonoma County Antiques, Sonoma, CA (707-938-8315;
Great room sofa: Ralph Lauren Home (888-475-7674;
Kitchen appliances: Heartland Appliances, Ontario, Canada (877-650-5775;
Kitchen cabinetry: Ketchum Kustom Woodworks, Ketchum, ID (208-726-1905;
Kitchen lighting: Fire Mountain Forge, Livingston, MT (406-222-9732;
Kitchen sink: Rocky Mountain Hardware, Hailey, ID (208-726-2345;
Log provider: PrecisionCraft Log and Timber Homes, Meridian, ID (800-729-1320;
Master bedroom lighting: Bruce Eicher Inc., Los Angeles, CA (310-657-4630)
Master bedroom quilt; outdoor metal furniture: Sundance Catalog Company, Salt Lake City, UT (800-422-2770;
Outdoor wood furniture: Great American Log Furniture, Bellevue, ID (208-578-3555;

Published in Country's Best Cabins
Comment Feed

4 Responses

  1. May I ask the cost of building this home?

  2. By chance, Are they soapstone counter tops in the kitchen?

    • Hi Terry,
      We don’t have that information, but you can contact the builder, Kearns, McGinnis and Vandenberg, Inc. in Ketchum, Idaho (208-726-4843; for more details.

      Log HomeApril 16, 2012 @ 7:24 pmReply
  3. Why are the floor plans so small. It would be nice to really see them.

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