Naming your home has a bad reputation. After all, think about all the times you've driven by a driveway the length of most airstrips and glanced at a sign that read: "The Glens of Comstock" or "Royal Viscount Hills."
Your reaction: What a bunch of pretentious jerks.
Our sentiments exactly — but we also believe, as it seems many log-home owners do, that naming your property can take a more creative and less haughty approach. In fact, the process of naming the cabin in the woods can say a lot about who you are, the area that surrounds your property and your feelings on creating a family legacy.
"Our cabin is going to be our retirement home, but it's also a place for our four kids to bring their families, in-laws and friends — so we wanted the home to have a welcoming name: Big Pine Lodge," says Debbie Chapoton, who lives on 62 acres in northern Michigan with her husband Paul. "We chose a name that conveyed woodsy — we're surrounded by pine — and laidback."
And it's anything but pretentious.
While there's no formula to follow when naming your cabin and perpetuating its "legend," there are definitely some loose ground rules.
Name it after a region, indigenous animals or something that resonates with guests. Greg and Shelley Martinez named their Michigan getaway cabin "The Loon's Nest" to reflect the lonely cry of Shelley's favorite waterfowl. "Greg and I wanted the name to express our love of nature and wildlife," says Shelley. "We were inspired by a pair of nesting loons that return to our lake every spring to raise their family."
Over the years, we've featured homes that have been named after local mountains, nearby waterways, Native American tribes, bears, coyotes, deer and different types of flora (think "Dogwood Lodge.")
Make it sound like a dream retreat. Your home's name should sound like a shelter from a world that is getting increasingly complicated. We've seen the word "rest" capped on to the end of many monikers, including "Hiker's Rest" and "Fisherman's Rest." Of course, the word "retreat" also conveys the easygoing nature and purpose of your new home.
Create a "brand" for your home. A house's name is more than a sign nailed to a tree or a front-porch post. It should be a state of mind, not only for family but everyone who knows you and might visit. Debbie and Paul had tee shirts and sweatshirts made with the home's "logo" on the front, and Shelley burned CDs ("The Loon's Nest Jazz") that she gives to friends who visit — just after she places a sweet jar of "The Loon's Nest Jam" in their hands. These gestures make your home and its name more memorable and, as Debbie says, everyone who wears one of those Big Pine Lodge sweatshirts knows he or she is part of something special.
Make it personal. When Coloradans Kathryn and Mark Scott-Witthar began searching for the perfect piece of property a few years ago, a realtor showed them 40-acre lots that were outrageously priced. "We told him we could buy 40 acres for much less, and he disagreed," says Kathryn. So the couple dragged the realtor to a gorgeous lot. His response: "Is that all you want? Nothing but dirt?" Of course, that's where the couple bought and promptly named their cherished property "Nothin But Dirt," as if to thumb their noses at conventional wisdom.
Plenty of companies cater to your creativity and will craft signs as elaborately or down-home as suits your lifestyle. Paul even took on the task himself by using quarter-log pine siding and tongue-and-groove paneling leftover from construction. He used a jigsaw to cut pine-tree patterns in his family's 4-foot-square sign.
One thing soon becomes clear: People refer to your home by its name. "They don't simply say, 'the cabin,' they refer to it as BPL — Big Pine Lodge," says Debbie.
Which proves that, like people, a home delivers more meaning once we know its name.