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Does Log Size Affect House Size?

Photos: Joe Hilliard / Home: Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia
Recently, a reader and log homeowner shared an experience with us: She explained that her 1,800-square-foot cabin is constructed with larger-diameter, round-on-round logs (with minimal drywall), and though the exposed wood is gorgeous, she feels the rounded interior logs eat into her livable square footage. Since the walls aren’t flat, her furniture isn’t flush with them, and even just a few inches of “dead space” here and there has impacted the perception of size in her home.          
Her scenario led us to wonder: Should log diameter be more closely considered while you’re planning the size of your house?

We sought the advice of Jesse Vigil, a licensed architect with Cushing Terrell, to explain how to achieve balance between the scale of your floor plan and the size of your logs.
Jesse: Large-diameter logs can intrude on the square footage of your interior a bit, but I think it’s less the loss of actual physical size that you feel and more a consideration of the home’s design overall.

When working with my clients, I first ask them how they’d like to live in their homes in addition to the size they’re after. Based on their answers, we draft the floor plan and that plan helps to inform the parameters of the log package.

The key to using large logs is to create interconnected spaces as opposed to a compartmentalized layout; otherwise, larger logs can feel overpowering — especially in a small-scale home.

The look you’re going for also matters. Large logs, whether they’re round or square, tend to have a heavier, more rustic feel, like you’d find in a lodge or a trapper’s cabin. A textured, hand-hewn finish also adds to this aesthetic. So in this case, large logs in a small footprint will convey this feeling quite well.
Smaller-diameter logs are better suited for divided-space layouts, as are smooth or mildly textured finishes, which will keep the walls from feeling heavy-handed. But even if you’re working with the same square footage as an open plan, a compartmentalized home will feel more intimate.

There aren’t any hard and fast rules or right or wrong answers — it’s simply a matter of personal preference, budget and design sense. The size of the logs is simply one piece in the toolkit. Good architects and designers will take log diameter into account while drafting the plans to ensure you have enough space, and the result will be a comfortable, harmonious home.

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