Skip to content

Legacy Quest: Wisconsin Log Cabin Getaway

Inspired by childhood memories, one Wisconsin couple builds a weekend getaway on the banks of White Sand Lake.
by Teresa L. Wolff | Photos by Roger Wade | Styling by Debra Grahl

For John and Judi Walsh, owning a log home was like continuing a family tradition. As a child, John’s family had stayed in log cabins while vacationing in Wisconsin’s North Woods. Judi had grown up in a lakeside home, and her love for the water carried over into her adult years, even after she and John were married and raising their three children near Madison, Wisconsin.

Stone pavers form the walkway from the home to the lakefront. Although the fire pit was an afterthought, the Walsh family spends hours there enjoying the Wisconsin forest scenery.

“We always wanted to carry on the legacy from our families,” John says. “We also hoped to create a vacation home where our own children eventually could bring their families.”

Judi’s love for water meant that building on a lakefront property was a must for the Walshes, but finding that perfect piece of land was not an easy feat. There were very few lots available that met Judi’s strict criteria: The lake they would build on had to have eagles and loons, which are native to the area.

The Walshes' efficient kitchen features rustic hickory cabinets, ceramic tile backsplash and flooring, and granite countertops. Simulated river rock faces the center island under Judi's pinecone-laced pot rack suspended from the tongue-and-groove knotty-pine ceiling accented with pine log beams.

“Our Realtor took us out on a motor boat on White Sand Lake, and we instantly fell in love with the clean, pristine setting,” recalls Judi. “Then, as we rounded a bend, I saw a young eagle perched in a tree. Then I spotted a family of loons. We were sold.”

Fortunately for the couple, a group of lots on the lake, which is located near Lac Du Flambeau in northern Wisconsin, had just become available. John and Judi purchased 8 acres with 490 feet of lakefront access and set out to create their log home.

Once they had their ideal property, Judi began searching through log home magazines to find a floor plan that would suit their lifestyle and happened upon The Big Fork Lake plan by Tomahawk Log & Country Homes in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. In addition to incorporating the layout they were looking for, the plan allowed for an unobstructed view of White Sand Lake through a two-story expanse of windows.

Additionally, John was attracted to the company’s Energy-Log insulated, hand-hewn, half-log siding construction system for its low-maintenance qualities. Plus, Tomahawk’s insulation system would be more suitable for when they were away from the lakefront home and would turn down the heat to conserve energy.

Hand-hewn pine collar ties span the width of the great room, adding drama without obstructing the view through the expanse of windows. Judi selected leather furniture for its comfort and ease of maintenance. A braided rug protects the rustic maple floor. The telescope gets frequent use by the family who enjoy stargazing at their vacation home.

Ron Volz, vice president for Tomahawk Log & Country Homes, served as the general contractor on the project. Judi relates it was great fun to work with the Tomahawk crew. “Each time John and I came to the construction site, the carpenters were so excited to show us what they had completed,” Judi says. “They were proud of this home and seemed to love it as much as we did.”

At 4,000 square feet spread over three levels, the plan met their needs for family vacation gatherings. “Because we wanted to be able to someday leave the home to our children, we wanted sufficient bedroom space and entertaining areas to accommodate large groups. Tomahawk’s plan was exactly what we were looking for,” Judi says.

Pine posts and beams form the structure for the screened porch next to the kitchen, which often doubles as a second dining room when the home is overflowing with guests. Tomahawk Log & Country Homes applied additional screens under the treated decking material to prevent bugs from entering the porch through the floor.

The main floor’s open great room is flanked on one side by the dining room and kitchen, and the powder room and master bedroom suite on the other. The laundry is off the hallway connecting the oversized two-car garage to the home. A screened-in porch is adjacent to the kitchen and dining room.

To accommodate even more guests, a separate apartment is located above the three-car detached garage on the other side of the driveway. The apartment includes a bedroom, a small kitchen and a sitting area. A craft room for Judi also is located in the second story.

To transform the exterior of their vacation spot into an inviting, yet easy-to-care-for, setting, the homeowners hired Custom Landscaping of Eagle River, Inc. Trees removed during excavation were replaced, and perennial flower beds were added for color without a lot of maintenance. They also included a stone walkway from the home down to the lake, which Judi says makes hauling equipment and food much easier.

“We had several dead trees that needed to be removed for fear the wind would blow them over onto the house,” Judi recalls. “The very day the gentleman was to take out the trees, I noticed a young eagle roosting in one of them. I asked him to leave the tree and stake it in such a manner that, if it did fall over, it would fall toward the forest. He obliged, and every morning I am awakened by the sound of birds singing.”

Although the Walshes’ vacation home is approximately the same size as their more contemporary-style permanent residence, they find they would rather be partaking in the beauty of nature than lounging by their pool in Madison. Whether it’s paddling their kayaks, going for an exhilarating spin on their jetski or just relaxing on their pontoon boat, they always can find some way to enjoy the splendors of the lake. “When we’re at the lake in our log home, time seems to pass more slowly. Life just isn’t as frantic,” Judi says. “We have time to do what we want to do.”

Published in Country's Best Cabins
Comment Feed

2 Responses

  1. Love the dining room set! Any input on where it was purchased?

  2. i love thisss housee! i am going to buy something like this!

    brooke goodwinMay 25, 2012 @ 1:17 pmReply

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Get your FREE Trial Issue of Log Home Living and 2 FREE gifts.
Yes! Please send me a FREE trial issue of Log Home Living and 2 FREE gifts.
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll get 8 more issues (9 in all) for just $15.95, a savings of 65%! If for any reason
I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing. The FREE trial issue and 2 FREE gifts are mine to keep, no matter what.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email (req):
Offer valid in US only.
Click here for Canada or here for international subscriptions