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Light of the Lake: Planning a Lakeside Log Home

An airy Minnesota lake retreat embodies a contemporary, no-fuss attitude that's warm and inviting—and Midwestern all the way.

It can be a tough thing to let go of the familiar in exchange for something that hovers in the realm of the unknown. Rik and Lyn Myers already had their dream home where they expected to retire, a bright and airy contemporary home south of Minneapolis that Lyn was loath to relinquish.

Exterior Photo of the Lakeside Log Home | Photo by James Ray Spahn

But when suburban sprawl extended right over 20 of their secluded acres, they took to the rural woods and found a new kind of tranquility three hours north of the Twin Cities in Nevis. This time, they were right on a lake—and in a log home.

Modernized Log Home Kitchen | Photo by James Ray Spahn

To make the adjustment as smooth as possible, the couple embarked on injecting the same sense of "light and bright" from their former abode into their new one. However, putting a contemporary twist on a more traditional architectural form proved to be a challenge. But just like people, logs are adaptable, and the couple finally achieved their dream in a 3,500-square-foot design after months of gathering ideas from magazines, poring over floor plans, attending log-home shows and seeking recommendations for a builder who could make it happen. "We took the best of everything we could find," says Rik.

Big Logs Around Dining Room | Photo by James Ray Spahn

    The key component to achieving the "light" portion of their theme was to keep the 2-foot-thick hand-scribed white pine logs as pale as possible and prevent sap stain, which is a harmless bluish discoloration that can form on pine. To do this, Jon Andersen of Jon Andersen Log Homes in Walker, Minnesota, harvested the logs in the fall before the wood darkened—but an unusually early freeze that year locked in the logs' moisture. Construction halted for a month while builders ran fans to dry out logs before painting or putting in cabinets and flooring.

For the "bright," the couple incorporated an expansive bank of windows and glass doors facing the lake and an open loft overlooking the great room. To add visual interest and prevent log overload, vividly painted walls and a blend of wood—rustic hickory for the ceiling and maple for cabinetry and flooring—did the trick, says builder Joel Sutton of Clearwater Construction in Hackensack. "They got the look they were after," Joel says. "They got a beautiful home."

Archway Made of Big Logs | Photo by James Ray Spahn

One of the Meyers' favorite touches is the arch cut into the logs between the dining room and sun porch. "The cross-sections display the beauty of the log in a way you can't see anywhere else," says Lyn. "It looks like a beautiful starburst." They also love the custom cabinetry and storage areas that help them keep everything in its place—especially the convenient walk-through laundry, pantry and closet area between the main door and kitchen. Pocket doors with patterned glass let them close off the work area but not lose the natural light. Whether it was planning cabinets or landscaping the hillside in front of the house, they say finding passionate, enthusiastic artisans was a crucial part of their success. "We really appreciate people like that," Lyn says. "They're the ones who make this home."

Home Details:

Square footage:

Log Home Company: Clearwater Construction LLC

General Contractor: Andersen Log Homes

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