Although Connie and Tim Ramseyer had never lived or even vacationed in a log home, owning one seemed like the realization of the American Dream. So, when they purchased a two-acre lot on a lake in central Wisconsin to build their vacation home, they already knew they wanted logs.
Tim, an experienced general contractor, builder and the owner of Oxford Properties, planned to construct the home with help from his Oxford crew. After considering several different log-home companies, the Illinois couple selected Tomahawk Log & Country Homes. Tim especially liked Tomahawk’s system for conventionally framed, fully insulated walls, which are then covered with handcrafted half-logs on both the interior and exterior. He says the system provides greater insulation than full logs, is easier to build and presents fewer construction issues. He also liked that Tomahawk would assist by applying the half-logs, obtaining construction permits, excavating the driveway, drilling the well and installing the septic system.
To enhance the log look, Tim and Connie wanted large-diameter full logs for character, choosing 16-to-18-inch logs for the posts and collar ties in the great room and at the gable entry. Custom-cut logs frame the great room windows. Because the couple planned to use the home for vacations and entertaining, they wanted the layout to include areas where the family could convene, enjoy good conversation and have a view of the lake. They sketched out an open floor plan with high ceilings for the main level and two guestrooms and a bath on the upper level above the master bedroom suite, and presented their ideas to Tomahawk, which finalized the drawings.
The Ramseyers took a hands-on approach to the construction of their 2,800-square-foot home. In addition to Tim’s role as the general contractor, the couple worked together to create the interior finishes. Don Glod of Cutting Edge Millwork helped with the interior wood finishes and window placement.
Connie’s experience with Oxford Properties, staging and showing homes to prospective buyers and keeping the account books, gave her the confidence to decorate their vacation residence. Her vision was for a rustic casual home that brings the outside indoors. She and Tim purchased aspen log beds for all the bedrooms and brought pieces from their Illinois home that she felt would fit with the decor. This eclectic mix provided the comfortable atmosphere they sought.
Since the Ramseyers intend using their vacation log home year round, they equipped it with two gas-burning fireplaces, located in the great room and the kitchen, and a wood-burning fireplace outdoors on the covered patio. They wanted the look of real stone without the problems caused by excessive weight, so they faced the fireplace with irregular lengths of thin-veneer Oakridge moss rock. "The stone is actually split in half," Tim notes. "Because it is so much lighter than full rocks, we didn’t have to worry about reinforcing the floors. This can be a real cost-saving measure without sacrificing the beauty of real stone."
The fireplace in the great room has the added benefit of being see-through, so guests are greeted by warmth when they enter the front foyer. After enjoying a moment admiring the fireplace, they enter the great room. The stacked stone supports the cedar mantel, which adds a darker wood to the lodge-like setting.
The Ramseyers put extra effort into making the kitchen the heart of the home. An open flow to the dining room and a gas-burning fireplace make the space ideal for family and friends to gather. "We didn’t want the kitchen cabinets to be typical," Tim explains. "We contracted with Dan Glod to have the knotty alder units stained different colors, alternating black, brown and antique red. We then topped them with crown molding to give the appearance of individual pieces of fine furniture."
Another example of Glod’s attention to detail is the lighting, which presented a challenge because the kitchen ceiling is two stories high. Glod put his ingenuity to work by designing and building a beam system to provide a place to install recessed lighting and hang a chandelier over the kitchen island.
To give each bathroom distinctive appeal, Tim’s Oxford Properties crew applied a faux painting and glazed technique to pine tongue-and-groove walls. Hammered copper sinks enhance the uniqueness.
Another example of the Ramseyers’ handiwork is the exterior light fixture over the front entrance. They weren’t able to find one that was bold enough for the extended peaked eave, so they took two lights and welded them together.
Also on the exterior, Tim had a local contractor build an intricate water feature with a wraparound creek flowing into and out of two separate ponds. Irregular stones give the border a rugged look, similar to one they admired while vacationing in Colorado. "When we are sitting on our covered porch, we can hear the water as it flows along the side of the home," Connie says. "It is very soothing and relaxing."
Time at the lake is devoted to relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. Connie and Tim spend their time boating, swimming, playing games, building a fire or watching the children float boats down the creek. A special treat is spotting eaglets that perch in the nearby woods.
As they envisioned back when they started, logs make all the difference in creating a warm and cozy environment. "We just feel content here," Tim says. "It is a great place to bring our family and friends to get away from our hectic lifestyle. When we are here we are making memories, and that’s what the American Dream is all about."
Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 2,800
Log Company: Tomahawk Log & Country Homes
Builder: Oxford Properties