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A Shangri-La on the Shores of Winnisquam Lake

A New Hampshire couple builds their own slice of heaven on the sandy shores of Winnisquam Lake.

Written by Stacy Durr Albert
Photography by Roger Wade
Search for the meaning of Shangri-La, and you just might fall in love with what you find: “A remote, beautiful, imaginary place where life approaches perfection.” Homeowners Sharon and Peter Spanos are certainly fans of this description, for they recently blessed their idyllic New Hampshire log home with the legendary label.
“The name has a special, historical meaning for us,” explains Sharon. “My husband’s family owned an iconic resort with the same name here in New Hampshire — a famous retreat in the 1960s where even the Beatles had stayed. We wanted to pay homage to this part of his past, and we filled our new home with original artwork, menus and postcards from the resort to create a nostalgic flavor.”
The idea for a log home was born as a result of the couple’s experience in the hospitality business. After owning a hotel for a number of years, they decided to sell it, but opted to keep the two-and-a-half acres of lakefront property across the street on Lake Winnisquam. A log home was a natural fit for the site on the sandy shoreline — a setting that boasts a private beach, boat launch and six boat slips.
“We wanted to build a place that we could rent out for the time being but eventually retire to someday,” shares Sharon. “We didn’t want a lot of fuss with painting or wallpaper, and that led us to a log cabin.”
Finding a log producer was fairly simple. The couple looked at a number of different companies, but as soon as they met with the staff at Coventry Log Homes, they immediately felt comfortable and confident.
“Though we’d been in the hospitality business for many years, we never actually built anything of our own,” recalls Sharon. “We came in as newbies, but Richard Titorenko at Coventry was so helpful. He put us at ease right away.”
After visiting a number of Coventry’s homes and perusing many floor plans, the couple decided to go with one of their stock designs, “The Clearwater,” which perfectly met their needs. Featuring three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a half bath, the 1,586-square-foot plan marries form and function, offering plenty of intimate spaces in a layout that also feels open and spacious.
The structural log package adds instant beauty to the home, featuring 6-by-8-inch logs cut from eastern white pine. The kiln-dried logs have a D-profile, with a rounded edge on the exterior and a flat interior. A clear coat allows the natural beauty of the grain to shine through, while protecting the wood fibers.
The building process was smooth, thanks to the crew at Wayne Stark Builders of nearby Warren, a company recommended by Coventry. “They did an amazing job,” shares Peter. “We really did our homework before building. Since it is a highly specialized construction style, we wanted to go with a company that had plenty of experience with log homes.”
Since Sharon and Peter’s full-time residence is just 25 minutes away, they were able to visit the construction site every day. In fact, they found it hard to stay away. “I would always tell myself that the crew probably had questions they needed us to answer,” recalls Sharon with a laugh. “Sure, they did!”
Keeping it local was a priority for Sharon and Peter, and they hired many area contractors for the project.
Engineer Tim Bernier of Concord helped the couple site the home perfectly to capture great views and made the zoning process a breeze. Enchanted Earth Designs of Meredith, New Hampshire, transformed the raw landscape into a visual delight, while local carpenter Robert Hodge added the perfect finishing touches.
“Being surrounded by the right people who knew exactly what the house needed helped us create the home of our dreams,” shares Sharon.
Inside and out, the home shines. A careful balance of old and new adds character to the structure, which was mainly decorated by the homeowners themselves. Since they’d opted for a kit home, they wanted to add many unique touches into the decor, incorporating custom lighting fixtures, wall accents, doors and more.
They turned to Jodi Sleeper of American Cottage in Gilford, New Hampshire, to help them design some of the key features, including a birch-tree canoe accent displayed above the living room windows.
“Jodi really helped us add a little flair to different spaces,” shares Sharon.
The kitchen is a room that truly showcases the home’s custom touches. The centerpiece is an old baker’s-table-turned-island that the Spanos found in an antiques store. The custom piece, which was salvaged from an 1892 barn, sparked a newfound passion for antiquing, and today the couple finds it hard to walk past an antiques shop without popping in to peruse the offerings. Newer touches also show up in the kitchen, such as the mottled granite countertops and beautiful white oak cabinetry and from The Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company in Laconia.
“We really love the idea of mixing in the old, rustic pieces with modern luxury,” explains Sharon.
The cabin’s guests are equally smitten with the home. In fact, visitors were so taken with the idyllic retreat that they begged the homeowners to build a second rental cabin on the property (which they have since done). The cabins are offset by a matching 10-by-10-foot log bathhouse featuring a full sink, toilet, outdoor shower and utility room.
“I should really keep a log of all of the amazing texts we receive after guests arrive,” says Sharon. “They are simply in awe at the beauty and comfort level. The home is incredibly peaceful. You can just sit outside and hear nothing but loons at times. It’s magical.”
Though many guests ask Sharon and Peter about purchasing the house, the couple insists it’s not for sale, and they look forward to the day when they can retire there full-time. They realize that they have created their own Shangri-La, and they don’t plan on parting ways anytime soon. 

Home Details

Square Footage: 1,586
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2 Full, 1 Half
Log Provider: Coventry Log Homes 
See also: A New Hampshire Log Home With a View

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