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A Pennsylvania couple gets a new log home — and a new baby — all within 24 hours.
by Photos by Roger Wade
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She and her husband, Matt, had been living in a trailer on their Pennsylvania property for nearly six years, so when they got the go-ahead from their builder to make the move, they didn’t hesitate. At nine months pregnant, Barbara didn’t sleep well that first evening, but she didn’t let it taint her opinion of the house. “At least I got to sleep one night in our new home,” says Barbara, laughing. “It really has such a cozy, homey feeling. We had purchased 30 acres of wooded land, and a log home just seemed like a perfect fit.”

Located in a quiet town an hour north of Pittsburgh, the 2,704-square-foot home is built into a small hill, creating a functional walkout basement. The Callahans designed the floorplan themselves, craving an easy flow for entertaining and a comfortable ambiance. But they didn’t do it alone.

After researching local log dealers, the Callahans decided to go with Dave and Sally Mitchell of nearby New Castle, representatives for Oostburg, Wisconsin-based Expedition Log Homes. From there, the company helped the couple transform their design ideas into a workable plan.

“The floorplan is a basic ranch-style home with a loft,” says Jan Koepsell, co-owner of Expedition. “We helped Barbara and Matt customize the design, and we now offer it—titled “The Callahan”—as one of our stock plans.”

Interior view

The representatives from Expedition also recommended a local Amish building crew, led by Sam Byler of New Wilmington, to take on the building project. “Sam and his crew were just amazing,” says Barbara. “Though they spoke Pennsylvania Dutch to each other and didn’t own phones or cars, we were able to communicate very easily face-to-face. They did really great work.”

Since Barbara and Matt served as their own general contractors, they were involved with every stage of the project. “Just staying on top of it was a challenge,” recalls Barbara. “It took a lot of organization to keep it going, but Sam was a big help with that.”

Once all of the plans were finalized, Sam and his crew got to work constructing the couple’s half-log home. “The package we provided features 8-inch Northern white pine,” explains Jan. “Both the interior and the exterior are clad in true half logs, with full-log corners that are pre-notched in the butt-and-pass style.”

To add versatility to the design, Barbara and Matt incorporated sections of drywall in parts of the home, including the kitchen, dining area and bedrooms, but used log trim in these rooms to continue the log look. Decorative dormers help preserve the elegant log home facade, while a functional layout captures the casual charm of log home life.

And while Expedition produces over 40 log homes each year, the Callahan home has something you don’t see every day: a matching log doghouse and shed, each covered with thick half-log siding. “It’s a great place for their dogs to hang out,” says Jan, laughing.

In the end, the Callahans were rewarded with a house they are proud to call home. They have hosted many large gatherings there, but it’s the simple, everyday moments that they cherish the most. “My favorite time is when it’s dark out and snowing,” says Barbara. “We just sit with our family and look out the front windows to see the lights from the living room and loft reflecting on the snow.” And, just like that first night in their home, it’s moments like these that become lasting log home memories.

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