Intending to renovate a fishing cabin in Idaho with some friends, Gay and Larry Wood ultimately decided that having a place of their own would better suit their growing family. They bought a three-acre parcel on Henry’s Fork, a tributary of the Snake River. Although Targhee National Forest surrounds their property, nearby neighbors and the renowned Henry’s Fork Lodge prevent it from feeling totally isolated. Plus, it is close to Yellowstone National Park, one of the Woods’ favorite recreation spots.
At the time they acquired the property, Gay and Larry were relocating from El Paso, Texas, to Austin and intended to wait to build in Idaho until they were settled. Because their Austin home needed extensive work, they got in touch with Jason Allen, the owner of J.D. Construction in Ashton, Idaho, who renovated the fishing cabin that Gay and Larry didn’t go in on. “In the process of discussing our renovation project in Austin, Jason encouraged us to consider building sooner rather than later,” Larry recalls. “He directed us to architect Danny Eagan. From there, the ball just starting rolling, until we had a new vacation home.”
Eagan found the site inspiring. “The property featured a natural lava bed and was high above the river,” he says. “The design would result in a vacation home that I can only describe as a very large and elegant ‘fishing shack.’ It is simply a straightforward solution for this beautiful building site to really take advantage of the river using local materials.”
As desert dwellers, Gay and Larry were unfamiliar with log homes. After looking at some, however, they felt this style of structure would be ideally suited for their heavily wooded property. Because they were leery of full-log construction, however, Allen recommended a hybrid-style home that would be conventionally built, with a full-log truss roof system and Adirondack-style log siding to convey the look and feel of full log.
Allen had built several hybrid homes, using logs provided by Yellowstone Log Homes in Rigby, Idaho. “We supplied the full-round handcrafted spruce logs that would form the roof system,” owner Scott Youngstrom notes. “We drawknife the bark off the tree, leaving the natural shape.”
During the planning phase, the Woods conveyed to Eagan their wish list for the Idaho home. Because their three children were in college and would soon be having families of their own, Gay and Larry’s first priority was three guest suites, each with sufficient space for two queen-sized beds, a built-in wardrobe, a closet and a full bath. A sizeable gathering area and kitchen were also musts.
The core of the 6,000-square-foot home includes a foyer, dining area and the great room opening to a cantilevered deck. Two wings flank the core, with the primary bedroom suite on the left and the kitchen on the right, along with a small hallway, a powder room and a guest bedroom suite.
The kitchen received plenty of attention. Eagan designed it to be big enough for Gay to prepare meals for large gatherings without feeling crowded. The island allows for a good amount of workspace when several people are involved in food preparation. It includes two full-sized dishwashers, which Gay finds are a definite plus when cleaning up after a crowd. Although she wanted a separate kitchen area, she didn’t want to feel isolated, so she asked Eagan to include a pass-through window into the dining area to allow her to converse with people in the great room. “This window also works very well for setting up a buffet when we have large gatherings,” she adds. Because the nearest large supermarkets are more than 70 mountain-road miles away, the Woods included a pantry for additional food storage.
The second-story loft includes an office with a built-in computer center where Larry can work while he and Gay are in Idaho. Two additional guest bedroom suites are located on either side. The couple followed Eagan’s advice to include a second laundry area on this level. “This definitely makes taking care of the home much easier,” Gay says, “as I don’t have to lug the linens to the main floor to be washed after the guests depart.”
To augment their in-floor radiant system, the Woods installed a total of six fireplaces. A wood-burning one adds ambience to the great room, while the four bedrooms and breakfast nook are equipped with thermostat-controlled gas inserts.
Outdoor living space adds to the family’s enjoyment of Henry’s Fork. Almost 1,200 square feet of deck run the full length of the home’s river side and are accessible from both of the first-floor bedrooms, the kitchen and the great room. Each of the two second-story guestrooms has its own balcony. A third balcony is situated on the front side of the home, off the loft sitting area, and overlooks Targhee National Forest. To allow them to use the outdoor spaces in winter, the Woods installed a snowmelt system on exterior walkways and balconies.
Because Gay and Larry wanted to spend their time in Idaho fishing and not mowing grass, they planted low-maintenance vegetation that would fit with the native flora. “Initially, we also planted perennials and pots of flowers, but the yellow-bellied marmots, affectionately known as rockchucks, ate most everything,” Gay says. “What they didn’t get, the squirrels or the moose had for lunch.”
Larry adds, “It is not uncommon for us to look out and see a moose taking a nap under the window.”
See more Creating the Affordable Log Home
Eagan, who has since retired, originally planned for stairs leading from the driveway to the front door. While building, however, he and the builders discovered there was a natural drainage flow where they wanted to put the steps. Not to be deterred, Eagan redesigned the area with a culvert and created a walkway over the top to give the illusion of a dry creek bed.
“We were novices when it came to log-home construction, so it was imperative that we have an architect and builder who knew what they were doing. We would strongly urge anyone who is in our same situation to find someone they trust,” Larry says. “Danny and Jason gave us a beautiful home, where we are able to spend over six months of each year fly-fishing, visiting Yellowstone National Park or just relaxing with our family.”
Square Footage: 6,000
Log Provider: Yellowstone Log Homes