Archway into the great room

Steve and Wendy Start worked very hard to make their vacation log home a refuge for family and friends. “Being near the lake and logs seems to slow the pace and provides everyone with a much-needed escape,” Steve says.

As you can see, lot of work and effort went into the home: Finding the right lot, building the right floor plan, and selecting a capable log home builder was paramount. “We knew we wanted a lake lot in Northern Idaho and soon found a great spot on Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint,” Steve says.

The peninsula-shaped lot projects out into the lake allowing for 260-degree views of the lake with the Schweitzer Mountains as a backdrop.

Steve grew up in Washington State and Wendy’s family is from New York, so the influence of the Pacific mountain lodge and the New York Adirondack camp were used as initial plan ideas.

“I had been looking at unique home styles for many years,” says Steve. “I originally thought about building a timber home, but when I came across a log home along a lake, I knew that was what I wanted.”

“The rustic look is fitting for this area,” says Wendy. “I admire the original pioneers who came to this area and built their homes with logs.” This theme would eventually enter into Wendy’s decor choices inside the home.

The Starts then met with Norv Skrivseth, national sales manager for Idaho-based Caribou Creek Log Homes.

Recreation room in the Start home

“They brought in their floor plan ideas and we presented them with a great hand-crafted log package,” Norv says. “They wanted a chinked log wall that resembled authentic pioneer construction.”

The Starts had also retained Sand Point Construction as their builders who would site the home on the lot and make suggestions on the layout. Among the first requirements were large windows, decks, and a screened-in porch around the perimeter to capture the lake view from any angle.

“We wanted a plan that would allow people to have their own space for either reading a book or watching eagles fly over the lake. One activity would not impact another,” says Steve. “The kids can play pool downstairs while the adults are upstairs relaxing by the fire.”

The Starts originally planned on a 4,700-square-foot home, but when Hal Burros, co-owner of Sand Point Construction, suggested placing the garage perpendicular to the home and attaching it, they gained more than 2,000 square feet of living space at a reduced cost.

A private hearth in one of the bedrooms

“The attached roofline created space for a large laundry room and pantry on the first floor with a sizeable bonus room above the garage on the second floor,” Steve says. “We did go over our original budget, but the cost per square foot in this bonus area was about $22 as opposed to average cost of $150 for the rest of the home. Not only was it a bargain, but it made the home that much better.”

Another layout consideration was the placement of the kitchen. “I enjoy cooking, but didn’t want to be off in a kitchen away from the family,” says Wendy. It was very important to create an open great room for togetherness without making the space feel huge and overwhelming.”

Although the living room boasts cathedral ceilings and substantial windows, the use of exposed log trusses and a widened fireplace lowers the sight lines. That, along with the multiple seating arrangements, creates a sense of intimacy.

The intimacy is carried on to the exterior of the home, where the builders designed the structure to fit snugly and discreetly along the lakeshore. To create this important requirement, Hal Burros had to position the foundation in just the right spot.

“With the pie-shaped lot, we wanted to capture all the views with minimal alteration to the site,” Hal says. “We reset the foundation lines 10 or more times until we found the position that saved as many trees as possible. The goal was to look natural and settled.”