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Spirit of the West

The natural textures and pioneering heritage of a log home often lead an interior designer to decorate with equally rustic accents and furnishings.
by Ronda Mollica
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Exterior of the log home

The stylist can also take a design cue from the homeowner’s interests and passions to transform the house into a personal sanctuary.

For one Florida family, the fond images of the untamed West were so strong the couple built a home to show off their interests. As you step foot onto the deck of the “Florida Cowboy house,” the faux gun door handles or the cowboy-etched glass doors may cause you to believe you’ve entered a Texas cattle ranch rather than a home in Florida.

Since they sold their small vacation log cabin in Arizona, Alvin and Brenda Magnon wanted to recapture the warm and quiet feeling that comes with a log home. They also couldn’t get the Old West out of their system and have been steadily collecting Western relics and works of art that needed a new home.

They had plans to build larger log home when they retired to Florida, where Alvin’s family business and children are all located. The couple opted for a picturesque lot on the banks of Lake Thonotosassa, 29 miles east of Tampa.

So how do you build a log home in an area known for its humidity and termites? One answer is the use of red tidal cypress, a tree that is naturally resistant to rot and wood-eating bugs. The Magnons chose BK Cypress, which specializes in log homes made of red tidal cypress.

The great room and kitchen are divided by amazing character logs

“Tidewater red cypress is famous for its fine texture and beautiful grain,” says Scott Deberry, manager at BK Cypress. “It’s been the choice of many builders and architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, for its distinctive look and durability.”

The Magnons made sure to stay true to the log home look. “Everything in this house is wood, —  no carpet and no drywall,” Brenda says. Indeed, strolling through the interior reveals wood walls, wood floor, wood ceilings, and massive wood support beams.

That’s the perfect backdrop for the many artifacts and Western décor pieces, including the Magnons’ prized collection of carved Indian kachina dolls, an authentic Indian wedding dress, and pottery. Nearly every item spurs a story from Alvin and Brenda. “I can’t live in the West, so this is the next best thing,” Brenda says with chuckle.

Tampa designer Laurel Barnhart helped Brenda pull her collections together to create beautiful wall arrangements and accessorize each room. “I told her, ‘I have the stuff, you just need to come and place it for me,’” Brenda says. “She did a great job staging the rooms and completing the look.”

More on this home, including additional images and floorplans, ran in the magazine.

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