For John and Shanna Stordahl, the adventure of building their first log home six years ago was life-changing. After 20 years living in Houston, Texas, the couple decided in 2002 to leave behind the city for a simpler life. They moved back to their home state of Minnesota.

While doing research on building a log home, John was intrigued by the process and thought log home construction might be a good business venture. The revelation wasn’t completely out of the blue for John, a financial planner — he’d worked in home construction during his college years. Shanna, a computer programmer, joined John in making a drastic career change. The couple became representatives for a log home company and began building their home, but it wasn’t long before they noticed that northern Minnesota was much colder than they remembered. “Good idea, wrong place,” John says.

In 2004, before their Minnesota house was even completed, John and Shanna bought property in Durango, Colorado, which featured a stunning view of the La Plata Mountains. With materials supplied by Town & Country Cedar Homes, they built their primary residence that also serves as the model home for their business, Madera Homes. John designed the home by combining elements that he and Shanna liked in Town & Country’s floor plans. They were so impressed with the company’s services that they signed on as independent representatives for Town & Country.

The 2,700-square-foot Stordahl home, made out of split white cedar logs, is situated on 12 acres surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. They chose cedar because of its durability — it doesn’t absorb moisture and is resistant to insects, John explains. The couple also wanted to incorporate sheet rock walls to provide color throughout the home. Using split logs gave them that flexibility in design, and Shanna — the home’s interior decorator — selected warm colors throughout.

John also chose the split logs for greater energy efficiency than stacked logs and to eliminate potential problems such as settling or air and water leakage.

Like most homes in Colorado, the Stordahl home is designed to capture the breathtaking views. When guests walk into the foyer, they can’t miss the spectacular view of the La Plata Mountains, visible from the expansive floor-to-ceiling window in the great room. Other rooms offer “secondary views” of the mountain’s ridge lines.

The couple also planned ahead on one view: The balcony outside the office soon will overlook a man-made lake once construction has been completed on a dam and reservoir.

While the great room, kitchen and dining room feature an open design, the couple designed the space so that the kitchen “isn’t the first thing you see when you walk in the front door,” John says. An open kitchen is great for entertaining, he says, but he doesn’t want guests to be greeted with the vision of pots and pans everywhere. “You don’t want them to walk in the door and say, ‘Boy, you’ve been busy,’” he says. “That’s a nice way of saying, ‘You’ve got a mess!’ ”

Even so, the kitchen is a point of pride. Equipped with high-end Viking appliances, it’s outfitted with granite countertops and cherry cabinets. The cooktop area is a conversation piece, with a multi-colored slate backsplash. The center island, which features a hutch cabinet on one end, includes a maple butcher block and bar. It’s positioned so that guests may gather around without getting in the cook’s way.

More about this home, including its floor plan, ran in the March 2008 issue of Country’s Best Log Homes, available here.

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