Midwestern and Tuscan styles are about as far apart aesthetically as, well, Iowa and Italy. But Greg and Melanie Hicklin had a vision—or rather, dueling visions. “My exposure to log cabins came from fishing in Canada, so I had something rustic in mind,” says Greg. But Melanie had other plans for the couple’s getaway home, a short drive from their lives in Des Moines. She was thinking of Tuscany and figured the look could indeed work in a log home.
Some designers might have scoffed at the unlikely fusion of styles, but country living on the great Midwestern plains and the Italian countryside is founded on the same rural values: practicality, comfort, casual style and a reserved but genuine hospitality.
To that end, the Hicklins’ log home brims with practical choices, starting with its relatively modest size: only 2,200 square feet. It includes low-maintenance touches like laminate flooring and almost no window treatments—in other words, no drapes or curtains to catch dust.
But practical doesn’t mean plain. The walls of windows give the Hicklins’ house a bright and airy feel, helped along by a very light, rose-tinted stain on the logs and wood finishes.
Melanie and decorator Cheryl Wasson of Accents and Interiors in Urbandale, Iowa, filled the house with exuberant splashes of color. A rich red wall catches the eye in the great room, and tropical-hued cushions give the wicker furniture in the sunroom a festive air.
To bring their Midwest-meets-Tuscany vision to life, the Hicklins relied on a personal connection: Laurie Pooch, a former co-worker of Melanie’s, owns Cabin Fever Construction LLC (the central Iowa representatives for Expedition Log Homes) with her husband, Doug.
The Hicklins were drawn to the flexibility of a half-log home (Expedition’s specialty), as well as the handcrafted look of the company’s logs. “We actually take a draw knife and put the finish on every log,” says Jan Koepsell, one of Expedition’s owners.
“You decide all the textures you want,” Melanie adds, “and each log is unique.” The Hicklins worked with Expedition Log Homes and the Pooches on a custom design that expanded the master bedroom by shrinking the front porch. The log package included 8-inch pine logs with butt-and-pass corners.
Doug Pooch, who has been in the log-home business since 1991, says one of the keys to the house’s feel was placing it properly on the lot. “It was a challenge,” he remembers, “to get the house positioned just right on the hillside in order to take advantage of the views and have a walkout lower level.”
The home that resulted pleases the Hicklins so much that they make the short trip from Des Moines as often as possible, sometimes even staying for a night in the middle of the week. Clearly, a little touch of rural Italy in the Iowa countryside gets into your blood.