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Northwoods by Design

A Wisconsin log home captures regional influences and architecture
by Ronda Mollica | Photos by James Ray Spahn | Styling by Colleen Macomber | Produced by Brenda Kelley
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Exterior of the Northwoods home

An architectural style is dictated by the terrain, materials at hand, and cultural background of the homeowners. In the log homes segment of the custom wood homes industry, a Midwestern design style has sprung up in and around the lakes, woods, and outdoors motif of vacationers.

Informally dubbed “Northwoods,” this style is encapsulated in a Hiawatha Log Homes residence built in northern Wisconsin. It is positioned for optimal views of pristine lakes and dense woods; built with insular cubbyholes that double as private spaces; and created with details and materials unique to the upper Midwest.

This 7,500 square foot tri-level plan brings the outside in while offering protection from the pesky mosquitoes and often chilly nights. The authentic rafter system brings drama to the open cathedral ceilings throughout the home. Coped notching — reminiscent of early log homes built by the lumbermen who first worked the land — adds a sense of local history.

The owners and guests experience the glacial lakes and fragrant pine and white birch forests either behind a 40-foot tall wall of glass in the great room or in a 24-by-24.5-foot screened porch.

Stone elements surround the hearth and the living room looks out onto a gleaming lake

The décor retains a fishing/outdoor theme. Like Adirondack design, many accent pieces constructed contain local material such as wood, twigs, antlers, leather, and metal. Larger items include boat oars, fishing equipment, animal figures, and furs.

The wood takes center stage when it comes to Northwoods style. The preferred building material is pine, carefully hand-coped with many exposed log ends that are crafted and curved. In this home, the traditional styling is found in the front porch; it has the effect of lightening the look of a heavy log wall.

The wood floors found through much of the home are a “bright sawn” Douglas fir, which is a rough-sawn wood sanded and finished to achieve an antique look with a modern feel.

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