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Unique Touches For Your Log Cabin

Tips on how to personalize your railings, mantels and entryways.
by Jackie Kennard

Unique Touches

When we think of interior decorating, the focus is usually on the obvious places — the great room, kitchen and other central living areas. By adding unique decorative features to focal areas not typically considered, a little can go a long way toward personalizing our homes. Here are a few areas that often get overlooked.


Traditionally, railings were not seen as a design element, but rather a necessity for lofts, walkways, decks and portico areas. But today, railings are getting a second look.

“More people want to incorporate custom design elements into their homes,” says Matt Marohn of Log Artistry in Black Creek, Wisconsin. “We’ve seen an increase in demand for our character branch rail, which resembles natural tree branches.”

Other rail styles growing in popularity include glass inserts, iron spindles and custom metal inserts. Specialized railings like these can be up to three times more expensive than traditional spindle railings. But if you limit them to one particular focal area, a metal insert can add tremendous character without a great deal of expense.

Smoky Mountain Metal Arts, in Maryville, Tennessee, specializes in making custom forged metal inserts that can be easily installed into existing wood railings. “Clients come to us with a picture in mind, such as a lake scene, mountain view or wildlife. We can also work with them on a new design,” says owner John Entrekin.

In addition to railing inserts, the company also sells specialty fireplace screens and chandeliers. “It is much easier and often cost-effective to have us make coordinating furnishings of the same theme,” Entrekin says. “We even have clients send us photos of their log homes to be made into custom fireplace screens.”

Hearth Mantels

Most would agree that the kitchen has taken over as the entertainment center of the home, yet the hearth still remains a symbol of authentic log home living. Mantels are universally the finishing touch to every hearth, making them a natural focal point for adding details such as carvings, character wood or reclaimed timber.

Homestead Timbers in Maine, Michigan, creates custom hand-carved mantels for all types of hearths. “Homeowners send us rough sketches or simply share their theme over the phone, such as fish, elk, trees or a combination of things,” says Homestead’s Adam Johnson. “Our local carver works directly with homeowners to finalize a design. We typically use white cedar in a standard size of six inches thick, 10 inches deep and eight feet in length.”

Other companies, such as Elmwood in Kansas City, Missouri, create mantels using reclaimed hand-hewn wooden beams. Timber from a tree on your property can serve as a memorable reminder of time spent building your dream.

Want more information on fireplaces? Compliment your home with a historic mantel.


Entryways are ideal spaces for adding eclectic touches without going overboard on costs. Because they are generally small areas, less is needed. Select furnishings such as tables, mirrors, lights and even doors for their quality and how they relate to your overall decorating theme. Old-growth tree branches are extremely wide and when cut they make wonderful tabletops. Mirrors are great decorative tools because not only are they ornamental, they give the appearance of larger space by adding light and depth.

Lighting is another important element and usually consists of a chandelier and/or a set of coordination sconces on either side of the entry door. “Entry lighting can make a significant first impression. You can often find local artisans who will make you something unique for a good price,” says Jeri Lynn Lockwood of Country Classic Designs in Cle Elum, Washington.

Since most entryways have minimal square footage, be creative with the flooring materials and design. Consider using a wood medallion in the center. Medallions can be found at most flooring stores and in addition to their low cost, they can be easily installed. Or, for a more seamless look, create a border using stone or tile to a wood floor or reverse it and border your stone with wood. Even give some thought to using a natural material like slate, travertine or limestone that may be uneconomical for larger rooms. Natural stone is always an ideal contrast with wood.

Decorating is a means of self-expression. By finding ways to enhance these understated areas, your home will manifest into everything you dreamed it could be.

Published in Country's Best Cabins
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