Mike and Jennifer Dunnells’ decision to leave their hometown of Dover, New Hampshire, to build a log cabin wasn’t an easy one to make. The couple had lived in Dover for more than two decades, and Jennifer had grown up there, along with her parents and grandparents. But the once-quiet small town had become a bustling center for Boston suburbanites.
Ready for a return to the simple life, the couple began making plans to build the log cabin they had dreamt of since marrying. Choosing a location was a breeze. Nearby Wolfeboro, a charming New England town known as “America’s oldest summer resort,” was a natural choice.
“The people are warm and friendly, it’s quaint, and everything is family-owned,” says Jennifer.
Settling on a design that would satisfy their needs wasn’t quite as simple. Because the couple’s son and Jennifer’s mom would be living with them, a highly functional and handicap-accessible house was a must. They craved free-flowing spaces that could accommodate their frequent guests and, above all, wanted their home to have a warm, comfortable feel.
“We looked long and hard at what we wanted to build and why,” says Mike.
The couple teamed up with Coventry Log Homes after discovering they were the only New Hampshire-based company to offer kiln-dried logs. “We didn’t want to worry about settling,” says Mike. “We also liked the completeness of their package and how they took time to really spell everything out.”
Rather than designing from the ground up, the Dunnells chose to modify Coventry Log Home’s Richmond plan to ensure plenty of room for everyone (2,188 square feet to be exact). And modify they did:
- They widened all the doorways and turned the original master suite design into a smaller mother-in-law suite with a handicap-accessible bathroom for Jennifer’s mom. With the leftover space, they added a utility room with ample room for storage and laundry, and a hallway with access to the garage.
- Because they wanted an open floor plan with room for family and friends, they shifted the staircase from the center of the house to a corner. “This way, the kitchen, dining room and living room all flow into each other,” says Mark Elliott, vice president of Coventry Log Homes.
- To further capitalize on the contiguous space, they eliminated three of the support posts, opting for manufactured beams instead. “It makes a huge difference when the family is all here,” says Mike Dunnells. “Everything feels much more spacious.” They also tacked 4 feet onto the loft above to give guests extra privacy.
- To gain additional head space in the cabin loft, which would serve as a guest room, they traded a gable for a shed dormer on the back of the house. They also added 14 feet of length to the original 50-foot design to ensure lots of elbowroom and added a garage with a small workshop for Mike. (The full-size basement offers additional room for his hunting and fishing hobbies.)
- They added a farmer’s porch to the front of the home for Jennifer’s mom (now complete with a rocking chair) and a back deck with two sliding glass doors. Their yellow Lab, Abigail, even inspired a change in design. “We had a piece cut out of our slider door and a magnetic insert put in so she can go in and out as she pleases,” says Mike.
The end result was surprisingly affordable as well. “We definitely came out ahead having them make changes rather than coming up with a custom plan,” Mike notes.
Coventry didn’t mind the modifications either. “Trial and error is the best way for an owner to determine the best layout,” says Doug Thornton, the company’s draft and design specialist. “A home is a big investment, so we try to make sure that when it’s finished, it’s exactly what the owners were looking for.”
Square footage: 2,188
Builder/general contractor: Log Stackers (603-747-2323)
Cabinetry: Omega Cabinetry – Dynasty line, Marion style, with mocha stain (omegacab.com)
Designer; log provider; mantels; railings; stairs: Coventry Log Homes (800-308-7505; coventryloghomes.com)
Dining room and kitchen pendants: Pottery Barn (888-779-5176; potterybarn.com)
Dishwasher: Bosch (800-944-2904; bosch-home.com/us)
Doors: Therma-Tru (800-843-7628; thermatrudoors.com)
Dryer/washer: Samsung (800-726-7864; samsung.com)
Flooring: Home Depot – Home Legend laminate in Pecan (800-466-3337; homedepot.com)
Front door: Jeld-Wen (800-535-3936; jeld-wen.com)
Great room chandelier: Bellacor Lighting (877-723-5522; bellacor.com)
Kitchen faucet: Delta (800-345-3358; deltafaucet.com)
Knobs/hardware: Emtek – oil-rubbed bronze Arts & Crafts style (800-356-2741; emtek.com)
Master bathroom fixtures: Pfister (800-732-8238; pfisterfaucets.com)
Pet-accessible slider door: Champion Windows Manufacturing (877-424-2674; championwindow.com)
Refrigerator: LG (800-243-0000; lg.com)
Roofing: IKO Industries – Cambridge asphalt shingles in Dual Brown (888-456-7663; iko.com)
Sealant; stain (Weatherseal in Sunlite): The Continental Products Co. (800-305-5869; continentalprod.com)
Stove: KitchenAid (800-422-1230; kitchenaid.com)
Windows: Andersen Windows and Doors – 200 Series low-E tilt-in (800-426-4261; andersenwindows.com)