A place is more than a geographic locale; it’s an attitude, a style and a sentiment. From the moment Gary Wells began visiting his son in Lake Tahoe, he felt an affinity to its architecture — log and timber homes set against a rugged terrain and thickets of ponderosa pine, white fir and aspen. It was how Gary envisioned the land had looked when pioneers first discovered and settled in the region.
“My husband is a romantic about the Old West,” Cathy explains of Gary’s nostalgia.
The couple began thinking about moving to Nevada and fulfilling her husband’s dream of building and living in a log home. When their son unexpectedly moved back to the northeast, they dropped Nevada from their plans, but Gary’s dream of a Western-inspired log home continued to grow.
Cathy recalls, “I was perfectly happy in our Colonial. But if you’re going to build a Western log home in New England, you have to be all in.”
Over the next decade, Gary and Cathy assembled their ideas. They found a floor plan in a magazine they wanted to customize and a property near Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, overlooking the White Mountains. After researching numerous log home companies, Real Log Homes emerged as their producer of choice due to their willingness to work with the Wells’ floor plan and respect for their budget. Equally important, they loved the company’s sophisticated, dovetail joinery.
“The corners are truly interlocking. The top is sloped, directing water away from the corner,” explains regional sales manager Mike Heffernan. “People love it. It’s classic and rustic.”
Set on a hillside, the Wells’ home is a 1,808-square-foot single-story ranch crafted of white pine cut in a log profile Real Log Homes calls “Classic Appalachian.” It’s 12-inch height requires fewer log courses to reach the ceiling, creating greater efficiencies with materials and labor, as well as protection against the elements. The exterior faces are flat with a scooped chinking groove at the top, though Gary and Cathy opted out of the chinking for aesthetic and budgetary reasons. A king-post timber frame of Douglas fir marks the entry and back porch. “It’s not a showpiece, but it’s dramatic for us,” says Cathy.
The modest but durable exterior belies the grand nature of the interior’s main living space. With its soaring, 18-foot ceilings, sweeping mountain views and rustic warmth, the great room feels grounded in strength and hospitality the moment you cross the threshold and enter its embrace.
The long log walls are broken and stiffened by the shear walls extending about 4 feet into the great room. In addition to adding structural stability to the design, the shear walls serve another purpose: They define the great room zones – the foyer, living, dining and kitchen areas. The cathedral ceiling is supported with a ridge beam and Douglas fir roof rafters, emphasizing the towering space even more. Wide maple planks with a scraped, weathered appearance comprise most of the interior flooring.
Kitchen cupboards are a knotty alder with a matching island and elevated breakfast bar topped by a rough-cut piece of lumber with a live edge. The island is stained in Boot Hill Grey by Behr to match the exterior rough-cut siding, a look repeated in the kitchen range hood, fireplace, guest bathroom vanity and the island’s “chandelier” — a rustic box beam suspending three pendant lights, which was designed by Gary. The counters are capped with quartz in a color combination of rust, gray and mocha.
There are three bedrooms — two guest rooms and a master suite — that each provide a cozy contrast to the great room’s magnificence. With its placement along the rear deck (a strategic move that maximized the views), the master features an internal, exposed dovetail corner. A tongue-and-groove ceiling masks the bedrooms’ conventional truss construction.
Thoughtful details pay homage to the home’s western inspiration. Sliding barn doors conceal the laundry area in the mudroom, as well as the master bedroom closet. Oversized weathered tile gives the shower a rustic patina, while reclaimed barnwood accentuates the shuttered vanity. A copper miner’s pan sink completes the Old West look. Upholding the settler’s tradition of “use what you have,” the Wells did not purchase any new furniture for their log home.
The view from the back deck delivers the wide-open feel of the West. To keep the panorama open, galvanized-steel goat fencing serves as a smart railing choice. The deck overlooks landscaping anchored with rocks that were blasted out of the home site during construction.
“A lot of wine has been sipped on that deck at sunset and coffee in the morning,” says Cathy. As often as not, the couple share their views with the friends and family who come to visit. Based on the revolving door of guests, it’s safe to say Gary speaks for everyone who visits the home when he says, “It’s like living in a resort.”
Square Footage: 1,808
Log Provider: Real Log Homes