A big-city couple builds a mountain log home in New Mexico as a cozy retreat perfect for relaxation and stargazing.
When Susan and Mike Clemmons talk about getting up to their “birdhouse,” they’re not kidding. The mountain log home in New Mexico they built from 2003 to 2006 is perched on a mountain bluff overlooking a valley at 9,200 feet in the town of Angel Fire.
Not only that, it looks like a bird, with a great room “beak” staring over the precipice and a wing-shaped roof tensed up and ready to soar.
Originally from Tennessee, the Clemmons had always admired log homes, and while they loved their California house, they also dreamed about having a log home where they could get away from it all. Finding a lot was their first challenge.
“We wanted to be close to good skiing, and we didn’t see anything we liked in popular resort towns like Lake Tahoe or Breckenridge,” says Mike. “We came up here to find this property with the view and realized it was a perfect 2 1⁄2 acres.”
The Clemmons interviewed several companies before settling on Mountain State Log Homes to supply the Canadian-grown Engelmann spruce logs. But they also had to work out some issues as the building process began. “The structure has almost no right angles, and virtually every feature had to be custom made,” says Mike. “We shrunk the size of the home a little [to 3,200 square feet] to save some money, but we stuck to our guns in regards to the original design.”
Like many log homes, the great room is the focus and the Clemmons made sure theirs was special. “So many great rooms we saw had these incredible views, but the furniture was oriented away from the windows or toward a TV,” says Susan. “We didn’t want a TV in there, and the couch is pointed toward the windows.”
The view is broken only by a fireplace situated in the middle of the wall, with virtually seamless sheets of glass rising from the floor to the ceiling, that are divided only by metal bars that are needed to protect the structure.
Outside, there’s a deck that lets the couple enjoy the same view when the weather is nice, but it’s set lower than the great room glass to keep the view from inside unobstructed. When the sun goes down on the south-facing room, the view fades away—but then comes the light show.
“If you’re accustomed to a city, you’re amazed when you look up into the sky here and see all the stars,” says Mike. “We consulted with a lighting expert who recommended we add fiber optics to the ceiling that would mimic the night sky.”
When darkness falls, a switch turns the Clemmons’ ceiling into a cascade of stars that extends out into the real sky. Given a choice of which day they wanted the ceiling star pattern to mimic, they chose February 14, their anniversary.
“It’s a long, two-day drive from California, but once you get in that room with the lights on and the music playing, it’s worth it,” says Susan.
Home Plan Details
Square Footage: 3,200
Log Company: Mountain State Log Homes