Story by Suzanna Logan | Photography by Joseph Hilliard
In the city of Williams Lake, British Columbia, the Wild West lives on. To locals, the city is still known as a cowboy town. The beauty here is raw. Rugged mountains rise above pristine lakes and cattle ranches sprawl out across vast stretches of green. To live here requires at least a touch of frontier spirit. Perched on a ridge high above the town, David and Alyssa Chevigny’s 5,500-square-foot home isn’t exactly a rustic cabin, but it fits its surroundings perfectly. With its 35 acres dotted with live-stock (“We run cows and pigs here,” David says) the log post-and-beam beauty pays homage to the area’s ranching roots.
Over the entrance of the home’s drive, the words “Hacienda en la Cresta” are scrolled across an arched timber that David logged himself. “It means ‘little ranch on the ridge,’” says David, the owner of Pioneer Logging.
The home could just as easily be called “The Gathering Place.” On any given day, you might find the couple playing host to a dozen (or two) of their closest friends and family.
“We get together, turn on Etta James and all hang out,” Alyssa says. “Those are our best days.”
Having a place for loved ones to gather is what spurred the couple into building their third log home back in 2009. In fact, family is the answer to both the “why” and “how” of the home’s creation.
“We wanted a place for everyone to be together and feel comfortable,” Alyssa says. “From the get-go, family was on board helping us and sharing ideas.”
The process began by teaming up with David’s brothers Brian Reid and Andre Chevigny, the founder and general manager, respectively, of Pioneer Log Homes of B.C., Ltd. (The talented duo are also the stars of HGTV Canada’s popular luxury log home show Timber Kings, which also appears on the Discovery Channel.)
Eventually, the process would also include brother Keith who helped design the kitchen “over a few bottles of wine and the course of a year,” says David, as well as nephew Leon, who custom built the home’s concrete firepit. From the start, it was clear that house had to have “space for everyone” and “make the most of views,” says ace designer Donna Fitzel.
The resulting floor plan combines living, cooking and dining spaces into one, while offering a split bedroom layout that ensures privacy for the couple and their visitors. Strategic touches fill the home — oversized doors offer easy access to the grounds and paneless windows play up the views.
“No matter where you are in the home, the view is stunning,” Alyssa says.
Inside, western red cedar logs infuse the easy-flowing spaces with the same rugged beauty that lies beyond the glass. Rising up from the ground and spanning overhead, the logs give the impression that the home has sprouted as naturally from the soil as the trees themselves.
“Some of the logs have flares 4-to-5 feet in diameter,” says Pioneer’s builder Beat Schwaller, who also helped the couple build their second home 18 years earlier. “We had to show off those big root systems.”
Of the 15 truckloads of logs used in the home, there is one log in particular that captivates David and Alyssa daily.
“It runs from our master bedroom into the bathroom, and every time I see it, it reminds me of a lion with the wind going through its mane,” Alyssa says. “It is spectacular.”
Further inspired by the outdoors, the couple relied on an earthy mix of materials and finishes to form the structure’s skin and bones, including native stone, copper-clad windows, heavy fir doors, glossy dark tiger-wood floors and aspen ceilings. Fittingly, Alyssa settled on a natural palette for the home’s classic furnishings. The well-scaled pieces stand up to their impressive surroundings without feeling precious.
“There is nothing here you can’t touch,” Alyssa says. “We wanted that feel of ‘come as you are, take your hat off and enjoy yourselves.’”
Casual furnishings combined with warm materials and beautiful surroundings set the stage for entertaining. In addition to their regular family gatherings, the Chevignys’ home once hosted a party of 350 for their son’s wedding.
Still, Alyssa says that some of the most special moments are early in the morning when a stillness permeates the hilltop home. “I thought I would get used to it, but I still have to pinch myself when I wake up in the morning,” she says. “It blows me away.”