Sentimental Journey | A Retirement Log Home in Oregon

A couple builds their dream retirement home in Oregon.

Exterior view

When Robert and Kay Baker began contemplating retirement, they decided it would be best to relocate to a new area while they still had at least five years of employment ahead of them to make meeting people there easier. Then they had to find the right location. “Robert had been on a bike ride down the Washington and Oregon coastline and had fallen in love with the area,” Kay recalls. “We were looking for an adventure, and Oregon seemed the right place for the next chapter of our lives.” Kay accepted a position as superintendent of schools in Salem, Oregon, and the Bakers headed west.

Once they settled in, they occasionally spoke of finding a weekend vacation home where Kay could escape the pressures of her job. “I knew Robert was interested in log homes, but I didn’t realize how serious he was,” she says. “We had been driving toward Mount Hood and saw a log-home-for-sale sign and decided to check it out.” During their tour, Kay drifted to the porch and sat in the swing.  As Robert watched her, he knew this was the ideal weekend retreat for her to unwind. “Sitting on that porch swing and hearing the sounds of the river, I had the experience of listening to my inner self. I was so relaxed,” Kay says. “We spent the next four years at our log home retreat on the very peaceful Zigzag River.”  

Customized wine room and rack

As Kay began planning her own retirement, the Bakers knew that as much as they loved their log home, it wouldn’t be suitable as a permanent place for their remaining years. They began looking for land with river frontage and found a 1-acre lot on the Sandy River. After researching log-home companies, the Bakers selected Treehouse Log Homes because they liked dealing with a Northwest company. Then they hired KLM Construction as their general contractor because it had experience building for Treehouse Log Homes. To plan the home, they took ideas compiled from log-home magazines to Treehouse’s design team.

Their primary considerations were a main-level master bedroom suite and space for their four children to visit with their families but not a lot of rooms that would have to be closed off when not in use. The 1,700-square-foot main level opens into a foyer leading to the living room, dining room and kitchen. A pantry and full bath are situated between the kitchen and the extended two-car garage. A bonus room over the garage provides additional storage capacity. To the right of the great room is the master bedroom suite; to the left is what Kay calls the multipurpose room, complete with a Murphy bed, computer, sewing machine and table for her projects.

Custom kitchen featuring big log details

The 300-square foot open loft is furnished with a bed, Robert’s desk, a television and a long-armed quilting machine. This level also includes a separate bath and two large storage closets. On the lower level, the 7-foot crawl space opens by a side door to the river-facing back lawn and houses a wine cellar and the mechanical systems. Kay and Robert took an eclectic approach to decorating.

Although they brought some furniture with them, they purchased mostly new pieces with the goal of creating a residence that was comfortable and homey but not, Kay notes, “too loggy.” She began making new quilts to add a personal touch. The couple also incorporated their birdhouse collection, which inspired them to name their new home “Baker’s Bird House.” Since retiring, Robert volunteers with the National Forest Service and devotes time to landscaping the property. He repositioned many of the large ferns that had been moved during excavation and added trees and shrubs.

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