Palazzolo home exterior

Over the course of the next four years, the couple often had picnics on the lot, surrounded by countless birch and evergreen trees. While absorbing the sunsets, they fantasized about their retirement home. “I was clipping pictures out of magazines for years, and I knew how I wanted it to look,” Marilyn says.

When they broke ground in 2003, however, reality set in. Construction is notoriously difficult on the island, which is accessed by a ferry that operates only from May through December, and winters can be extremely rough. “We had a lot of surprises,” Marilyn admits—including a dishonest contractor who left the couple stranded with a half-finished home.

Fortunately, the couple had the close-knit community of Madeline Island on their side. When word surfaced that the Palazzolos were in need of contracting services, a number of locals executed the remaining aspects of the project, completing the home in 2004. “We like to focus on the positive, which is the great people who helped build this beautiful home,” Marilyn says.

The Palazzolos also kept it local when choosing a log provider, selecting Hiawatha Log Homes, which is also based on the shores of Lake Superior in Munising, Michigan. The couple’s original plan for their dream home totaled 5,000 square feet, but they eventually whittled down the design to a more manageable 2,700 square feet. Eleven courses of 12-inch-diameter Norway red pine logs were used to form the two-bedroom, two-bathroom home. Both the full-log walls of the home and the half-log walls of the attached garage feature Hiawatha’s signature Swedish cope profile. “The floorplan is a custom design, like most of the homes we do,” adds Billie Freeman, senior designer for Hiawatha. “Consideration of the sloping terrain, the placement of existing roads, access to the site and the amazing views all played factors in the design of the home.”

For the Palazzolos, the journey to building their log home provided them with an ideal destination. Besides welcoming their three children, four grandchildren, dutiful dog, Badger, and visiting friends, their home has become their sanctuary. “We recently went on vacation,” Marilyn says, “and when we returned home we said to one another ‘Why did we leave?’ Our home is our vacation.”