Constantly, readers ask us, “How do I get my log home featured?” Well, this is the story of one couple, Bud and Patty Eidam of Illinois, who pursued their home being photographed. More specifically, it’s the story of the actual photography shoot, attended by creative director Karen Sulmonetti and me.
–Peter Lobred, Editor, Log Home Living
For years, we wore out all our copies of Log Home Living,” read the letter I received in January 2001 from Illinois log home owners Bud and Patty Eidam. “Well, three years ago, our dream came true. And we tore down our old house and built our log home.
“It’s taken some time,” the letter continued, “but friends and family finally talked us into sending you some pictures to see if you would be interested in doing an article on our home.”
As I looked through the snapshots—actually color copies of Christmas photos—it didn’t take long to realize that this was indeed a special home. The photos I’d received revealed an elaborate holiday decorating scheme (Bud takes six days to get the trimmings just right) but, more importantly, an open, inviting home designed and crafted in a variety of unique ways. It’s the type of home that’s sure to give our readers a number of ideas for their own log home projects.
I called up Bud and Patty, leaving the message that we’d love to photograph the home and that one of our photographers, Jim Yochum, would be in the area during late spring if that was convenient. I had one other piece of information that made this photo shoot slightly out of the norm: I planned on attending along with Log Home Living’s creative director, Karen Sulmonetti. It’s not often that we get to attend a shoot, but the Eidams were more than accommodating if we could make it.
Karen and I flew to Illinois from our suburban Washington, D.C., offices last May for the photo shoot. The weather was decent—though rain was in the forecast—as we planned to meet up with Bud, Patty, Jim and his stylist, Gisela Rose. Our rented Jeep pulled up to the Eidams’ home at 8:15 in the morning (Dunkin’ Donuts in hand!) ready to tour the house—produced by Wilderness Log Homes in Plymouth, Wisconsin—and take in the photo shoot. Bud, Patty and Sault Ste. Marie, the friendliest rottweiler you’ll ever meet, welcomed us immediately and guided us through the home. The tour included Bud’s workshop in the basement, which doubles as sleeping quarters during the holidays, and the outline of where the family’s old stick-built house once sat.
Jim and Gisela set up shop; it was decided that the first shot would be the exterior, due to the anticipated rain showers. The flower garden and pond would appear in the foreground, as this area is an integral part of the Eidams’ dream home. “I spend so much time out here,” Patty says.
Also clearly visible in the shot is the green asphalt roofing that the Eidams opted for, due to its natural fit with the log home. The roof’s sharp prow covers a porch area that’s on the back of the house. “We wanted this to look like it could be either side,” Bud says, “so there’s no real difference between the front and rear of the home.”
Jim’s camera is actually situated just inside a wooded area on the Eidams’ 4 acres. The “forest” includes a makeshift campfire, and soon the property will feature a playhouse, as Bud and Patty will become grandparents this spring.
From the wooded area, we headed inside to photograph the dining room, an open though cozy space that features drywall as well as log, plus a view of the pond and garden. In preparation for the photo, a few wall hangings came down, candles were lit, and flowers were placed with care to add color to the shot. As the finishing touches were put on this angle, Gisela was already busy whipping up a pie she’d started early that morning to serve as a prop for the next shot: the kitchen.
To reduce glare, the kitchen’s undercounter television was removed, and the pie, along with assorted pantry items, was placed “just so” in the room. Several shots were taken, as Jim constantly cursed the sun going in and out of the clouds overhead.
The kitchen shot reveals where the dining room’s hickory flooring meets ceramic tile, as well as portions of the adjacent bar, to which Bud happily tends as guests frequent the Eidam home. “He loves getting behind the bar,” Patty says.
From the kitchen, we headed to the entryway. Since the rain had yet to come, Jim opted to open the front door to show the Eidams’ front yard, where Bud lets his hunting dogs run whenever they’re out of the log kennel. (The property’s third log structure is a detached garage.) The shot, taken from the great room, shows the log arches, not to mention Bud’s hunting gear for when he grabs the dogs and heads out.
That hunting and camping theme continues in Patty’s favorite place of all: the Goulais Bay room, an added space attached to the kitchen and dining area. “My folks had a log cabin up in Canada that we used to go to growing up,” Patty says. “We patterned this room after my parents’ cabin.”
The Goulais Bay room is an inviting space, a sunroom but with a much more intimate feel. We photographed the room with the best props we could think of: beer and popcorn. The latter disappeared rather quickly after Jim wrapped up the shot. “It’s really just a nice room to hang out in,” Patty says, “and it’s a special place of memories.”
It’s probably the most unique space in this 4,080-square-foot home that Bud and Patty literally sketched on a napkin, then hammered out in an eight-hour meeting with Wilderness. “We just always knew what we wanted in this house,” Bud says. “And we had a folder full of notes from your magazine,” Patty adds.
Opposite the Goulais Bay room on the home’s first floor is the master bedroom, complete with vaulted ceilings and a cozy loft getaway overhead. As captured in Jim’s photograph, the master bedroom opens to the porch out back. Jim also photographed the master bathroom in such a manner as to capture its connection to the rest of the master suite.
Once the master suite had been restored so that all items were returned to their rightful place—inevitably, certain props had been “re-positioned” throughout the day—the crew headed upstairs. The home’s second floor begins with a balcony-sewing area and includes two bedrooms with a shared bathroom. We photographed the rustic, moose-themed bedroom that family and friends frequent. Outside, artificial lighting was placed on the roof overhang to ensure that the bedroom would be bright and visible in the photograph.
With the bedroom shot behind us, we headed downstairs for the final and most important shot: the great room. Most log homes have centrally placed great rooms, and the Eidams’ home is certainly no exception here. Whether guests enter from the front or rear, the massive river rock fireplace quickly catches the eye. Hanging on the great room’s wall is a complete family tree. Of course, it’s the wood-burning hearth that dominates the space. And, being May, there was not much wood in the home, so Karen and I went to work loading up the stack that appears in the corner of the photograph. (It may not look like much, but trust me, it’s two or three deep on that pile.)
We completed the day with a few photographs of the group and a nice dinner out to celebrate Bud’s birthday. “It took a while and was a meticulous process, but it didn’t matter to us,” Patty says of the whole experience. “We’d allotted for it.”
Bud’s favorite part of the process? “Dinner at Giovanni’s,” he says with a laugh.
“But,” he adds, “we were really very excited about the whole thing.”
As for the 11-month wait to see their home published, Patty shrugs it off. “It’s kind of nice waiting,” she says. “It spreads things out.”
So here it is, the feature that started with a letter back in January 2001—or perhaps more precisely, Bud and Patty’s years of planning. Would the Eidams recommend their experience to others? “Absolutely,” Bud says, from the photo shoot right down to log home living itself.
“You guys were great,” Patty says. “And we enjoyed showing off our house. We’re very proud of it.”
After just one day with the Eidams, it’s clear that their joy—and the warmth of their log home—are both extremely contagious.
For resource information, see the April 2002 issue of Log Home Living.
Styled by Gisela Rose