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Northern Splendor: Wisconsin Log Home

A Wisconsin couple crafts a welcoming retreat that embraces its surroundings.
by Holly O'Dell | Photos by KCJ Photography

Gil and Rocky Schmidtke lived in a log home for three years, but they never felt like it was their own. “It was someone else’s plan, and the layout didn’t work for us,” Rocky recalls.

Perched atop land that sits at a 45-degree angle, the home uses a generous amount of windows, decks and patios to capture the views of surrounding trees and the lake below. Boulders and wildflowers populate the land leading to the water.

When they decided to build a second home, they addressed their most important goals: a home that could comfortably accommodate the pair and their visiting children and grandchildren, a floor plan that allowed for both openness and privacy and a wall of windows boasting water views.

The couple found land in Gil’s North Woods hometown of Minocqua, Wisconsin. Situated on a 45-degree angle, the tree-filled property overlooked a lake — the ideal spot to build their four-bedroom home.

Gil and Rocky turned to Wisconsin Log Homes, choosing a half-log system with pine logs for the interior, a conventionally framed insulated core and 10-inch spruce exterior logs with hand-peeled finish and full-round saddlenotch corners.

With the help of their personal home consultant and Wisconsin Log Homes’ design team, the Schmidtkes altered the Green Bay company’s Alpine Meadow II floor plan to include a full walkout basement, a sunroom off the dining room and an office area in the loft.

Rocky designed the expansive deck off the kitchen to incorporate flower boxes that double as boundaries. The deck also serves as the starting point for a waterfall that ends near the lower-level patio and fire pit.

“By the time these modifications were made and their personal touches were added, the Schmidtkes’ home became a one-of-a-kind design,” says Bob Patschke, Wisconsin’s design manager.

Indeed, the customized layout accomplishes Gil and Rocky’s objectives. On the main floor, varying ceiling heights simultaneously bring definition and continuity to the open great room and dining and kitchen areas.

To soften the visual impact of the log walls, hardwood floors and burled oak table, Gil and Rocky upholstered the chairs in the dining area, which borders the great room, kitchen and sunroom.


“We like to all be together, so I can still talk to someone watching the football game in the great room while I am at the stove,” Rocky notes.

In the great room, a soaring prow wall offers spectacular views over the lake, just as the Schmidtkes had initially envisioned. The windows’ massive round log trim “puts a picture frame on each window,” Rocky says. Wall-height collar ties and a dry-stack ledgestone fireplace add depth to the tongue-and-groove knotty pine vaulted ceilings, while hickory flooring connects the public spaces on the main level.

The remainder of the first floor quietly transitions to the master suite, where vaulted ceilings, a built-in fireplace and a shed porch contribute to the privacy the couple sought for this space. Two bedrooms in the finished lower level are designed to give guests that same sense of seclusion.

For the Schmidtkes, who enjoy an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, designing the outside space was as important as the interior. Case in point: Off the kitchen deck, a waterfall flows to a walkway, meets a bridge and trickles down to the lower level, where a patio and fire pit are located.

In addition, stone outcroppings serve as steps on either side of the house, leading to the lake.

Whether they’re entertaining family in the summer months or basking in the glow of the fireplace over the holidays, Gil and Rocky enjoy their log home to the fullest.

“We’ve become homebodies,” Rocky admits. “We both love to cook, and I would rather grill on my deck and enjoy the view. We love our home so much that we just want to be in it.”

A guest bedroom in the lower level leads to a patio outfitted with two rocking chairs and a table. "It's a place with a beautiful view where our guests can have their coffee in the morning," Rocky says.

Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 5,556
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms and half-bathrooms: 3, 2
Log producer; general contractor: Wisconsin Log Homes
Log species: Spruce and pine

Published in Country's Best Cabins
Comment Feed

2 Responses

  1. Beautiful House.

  2. Love the boat house

    Wayne BaseleyJanuary 17, 2013 @ 10:00 pmReply

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