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Hunter’s Heaven: Michigan Log Retreat

An unplanned stop results in a treasured family retreat.
by Iyna Bort Caruso | Photos by Roger Wade

In this rural northern Michigan setting, "the stars come out a lot easier," says Tom Winkel. The Winkels can take in the nighttime sky views from either of their two covered porches or the rear deck.

A wrong turn wound up being exactly the right one for Tom and Carol Winkel. The couple was on a fall leaf-turning tour of northern Michigan when they made a navigational error and spotted a model log home by Town & Country Cedar Homes in Petoskey.

“We didn’t know it was a model home. We just wanted to get a closer look,” says Tom. On a whim, they took a tour. “We were struck by the quality of the workmanship,” he recalls.

The couple already owned almost a thousand acres of hunting and recreational property, and though they considered building a log home, they had no specific timetable—until that fall day.

“It just happened to all come together,” Tom recalls. “Purely by luck we came across this model and felt like this was exactly what we had been thinking about. It was a sign to go right ahead with it.”

The dream of a log home became a reality for the Winkels in March 2007 with the completion of their 6,200-square-foot residence. Winkaway Woods Lodge, as the home is known, was constructed using a half-log wall system—logs cut in half and adhered to conventional framing out- and/or inside the home—of northern white cedar logs varying in size from 8 to 14 inches with saddle-notch corners.

The couple opted for cedar “not only for its look and feel, but for its durability and insect resistance,” Tom says. “We also learned the benefits of half-log wall systems as a construction method to significantly reduce maintenance and provide greater energy efficiency.”

Within the open floor plan, handcrafted spruce king-post trusses, architectural lighting and a soaring fireplace account for part of the home’s drama. Tom’s hobby as a big game hunter provides the rest.

Behind the home, a fire pit is a favorite family gathering spot for campfires and sing-alongs. The pit is made of Montana fieldstone that the couple came across while researching stone; they tracked down the exact quarry.

Brown bears, North American wild sheep, coyote and elk are displayed throughout the home. Jeff Griffin, draftsman for Town & Country, says the architectural plans called for “lots of unique areas for the purpose of displaying animal mounts. It’s unlike any other home I’ve ever been in,” he says. “It’s pretty amazing.”

Rather than creating a dedicated trophy room, the Winkels chose to showcase the animals all over the home—in the great room, by the staircase, in the basement, even the master bedroom. The design of the home, with its tall ceilings and open spaces, became an ideal backdrop.

The master bedroom (right) features 22-foot high ceilings, recessed lighting behind the beams and a view overlooking the pond. Carol Winkel handled design and decoration throughout the home.

“I view animals as a form of God’s artwork,” says Tom. “We wanted them to fit in with the feel of home without being overwhelming.”

The lower level has an entirely different look from the rest of the house. “Working with Town & Country and [builder] Kevin Wanstead as a team, we came up just the right combination of custom-milled product from Town & Country for the walls and salvaged material from a local 125-year-old barn that was being dismantled for the ceilings and exposed beams,” Tom explains. The result is a much more rustic, turn-of-the-century square-log cabin appeal.

The Winkels opted for cedar logs not only for their look and feel, but their durability and insect-resistant properties. "We wanted the home to retain the special warm and cozy feeling that only a log home can provide," Tom explains.

Winkaway Woods Lodge has become the gathering place for holidays, special celebrations and time to connect with family and friends. Says Tom, “We hope to have this log home be a vacation spot for the entire family to share for generations to come.”

Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 6,200
Bedrooms: 6
Bathrooms: 4
Log species: Northern white cedar
Architect; log provider; railings; stairs: Town & Country Cedar Homes, Petoskey, MI (800-968-3178;
Builder/general contractor: Mustang Builders, LeRoy, MI (888-768-4583;
Cabinetry: Ayr Custom Cabinetry, Nappanee, IN (574-773-7973;
Landscape designer: Clark’s Landscape, Comstock Park, MI (616-784-5525;
Masonry: Jim VanDyke, Grand Rapids, MI (616-291-1664)
Windows: Pella Corporation, Pella, IA (800-374-4758;

Published in Country's Best Cabins
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One Response

  1. Vanice–You will need to contact the company that produced them: Town & Country Cedar Homes (800-968-3178;

    Whitney RichardsonApril 4, 2010 @ 9:37 amReply

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