1. Use quality materials:
One of the easiest ways to instantly imbue your home with an upscale atmosphere is to choose top-of-the-line materials. In this Tennessee cabin, the homeowners married rustic reclaimed logs and a natural stone fireplace with polished wood floors and smooth granite in the kitchen and bathroom. The result? A tantalizing blend of textures that still stays true to the home’s underlying character. You don’t have to cover your house from top to bottom in super-swanky materials to achieve the same effect, though. Instead, pick a favorite spot (e.g., the kitchen or bathroom) and limit your splurging there.
2. Put some thought into landscaping:
When you’re planning your dream home, it’s easy to narrow your focus to encompass only those four walls. But a great home is about so much more than just the structure itself—what’s around it can often make just as big of an impact. Take this sprawling Montana ranch: While the home’s gorgeous Engelmann spruce logs and wraparound deck are enticing, we’re betting what visitors remember most about it is the spectacular log-truss archway crowning the entrance or the rainbow-trout-stocked pond and stream that the homeowners installed just outside their back door. Such ambitious projects may be a little out of reach for most of us, but the lesson can still be applied—put a little thought and money into natural, breathtaking landscaping, and your home will look all the more magnificent.
3. Present a unified interior:
By all means, your home should be a showcase for your family’s favorite memories (prized snapshots of the kids in the snow, a jar of shells from a beach trip), but there’s no denying that the one thing all high-class, magazine-quality homes have in common is a unified sense of style. For log homes, this often means sticking to a woodsy or Western theme, but we admire these homeowners’ chutzpah in decorating their Wyoming-set home with an unexpected country-cottage aesthetic.
Their devotion to this idea carries all the way through from the driftwood-stained walls to the classic red American Windsor chairs around the dining table. So how do you achieve that type of coherent style while still embracing the eclecticism of your personal artifacts? It’s simple—use your passions and memories as your guide, whether that means letting a love of old cowboy movies direct your decor or carving out a special “art gallery” space in your floorplan to display framed family photos.
4. Create dazzling outdoor spaces:
We know what you’re thinking: “I’ve frolicked in ponds smaller than this!” Probably true. But even over-the-top water elements like a natural rockslide, pool and waterfall can provide inspiration for some, well, scaled-down alternatives. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go natural, a tip used by the homeowners here. Water features crafted from manufactured stone can be an affordable option for the backyard or patio—or to face foundations, fireplaces and columns.
Also, instead of a pricey stone patio, consider decorative concrete, which can be spruced up with color or texture. For more great (and affordable) ideas, visit doityourself.com (type in “tips for adding water features to your yard”), youandgardendecor.com/water-features (fountain, waterfall, pond and lake ideas), and sierrapacificdesign.com (extensive gallery of backyard ideas).
5. Think about the wood beyond your logs:
We choose to build with wood for its beauty, sustainability and permanence, among other lofty reasons. In this South Carolina gem, the homeowners decided not to restrict timber just to their walls, covering nearly every square inch of their home with wood. We particularly admire the four log posts—trees stripped of their bark—that stand like natural sentries over the great room. Expensive touch? You bet. But for your home, scale back and consider one or two posts that might designate a transitional area from the kitchen to the great room.
We also adore the wide-plank hardwood flooring. Yes, it can carry a hefty price tag. If your budget it tight, perhaps you can still reap the aesthetic benefits of wide-plank flooring by lining your great room with this material and buying other flooring (affordable linoleum and carpeting) in areas with less traffic.
6. Incorporate custom details:
One of the most satisfying forms of luxury is where a home just seems to fit its owner’s personalities, just like in this Maine log beauty (built by the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team with a little help from the Log Home Living staff!).
While subtle luxuries abound throughout the home, two specific rooms define the term by letting the inhabitants’ personalities overflow: a forest-themed bedroom for the budding environmentalist and a dance studio for the aspiring ballerina. Sure, they’re bold statements, but that’s kind of how customization goes: You have to wear your heart on your sleeve. And while a dance studio and a bedroom sprinkled in faux leaves may seem like overkill, the beauty of these ideas is that they both can easily transition, whether it’s dismantling the eco-forest for more neutral sleeping territory or morphing the studio into a basement family room.
7. Keep it subtle:
When you walk into a home and are hit over the head with shiny surfaces and plush details, it can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But when the luxury is nuanced and subtle and not even noticeable right away, that’s when a home hits its stride. Such is the case with this wee cabin (just 800 square feet) that, on first blush, seems to just offer the bare necessities. But then luxury peeks out of a rustic facade, and you notice how well-made and cleverly placed everything is—from the rich leather furniture to the handcrafted logs stacked expertly atop one another and muted wide-plank floorboards that only look dusty.
By pairing the home’s plentiful wood with carefully chosen textiles— be it cowhide twig chairs or patterned quilts—the owners created the kind of environment you want to sink into. Since furniture and accessories made to look old-fashioned often go for a premium, the best way to get this look yourself is to shop at flea markets and antique shops—but definitely invest in one brand-new quality piece to serve as your anchor for your decor.
8. Ditch the boring floorplan:
It’s not often that you hear the word “luxurious” used to describe a floorplan—construction blueprints just don’t have the same eye-candy factor as, say, a plush sofa or a lavish soaking tub. But an innovative floorplan can certainly make your home feel luxurious, as evident by this strategically designed wonder.
The homeowners used compound angles to capture breathtaking views and integrated architectural details such as double radial bays to define their ceiling. And with a clearly defined core (the kitchen and great room), the home manages to project an intimate vibe—even at more than 5,500 square feet. That number might seem on the high end, but the same principles can be applied to any home, no matter what the square footage. Careful planning and diligence early on will result in a practical use of space, allowing you to add more architectural flair later (think bump-outs or angled entries).
9. Carve out special spaces:
We all have that perfect spot in our home—the place where we go to unwind and get away from it all. Be it a cozy nook by the fireplace, a rocking chair on the front porch or a comfy, just-slept-in bed, go ahead and splurge a little on something that brings so much pleasure. For these homeowners, that meant a whirlpool tub in their master bathroom. Complete with cascading waterfall and panoramic view of their Idaho surroundings, the tub personifies relaxation. Of course, your splash of luxury doesn’t have to be this exuberant. Simple additions such as a chenille blanket to your reading nook, a plush cushion to your rocking chair or high thread-count sheets to your bed may be all the luxury you need to make your special space that much more enjoyable.
10. Make your home blend in with its surroundings:
You’ve already taken the first step toward this tenet of luxury by choosing to build a log home. But the homes that can truly be called luxurious are the ones that go that extra mile, like this cabin situated in the Colorado Rockies. The local stone used on the front porch, patio and spa was actually unearthed during excavation and makes the home appear to be part of the cliff behind it, while the exterior finish helps the cabin appear as though it’s been there for years. The interior is equally authentic—a single pane of glass held between two cedar trees and an interior staircase made from a standing-dead bristlecone pine enforce the illusion that the home was created from materials right outside the front door. This kind of customized authenticity can come with a hefty price tag, though.
To create your own log-home chameleon without breaking the bank, focus on just one characteristic: Stain the exterior in a shade similar to trees found in the area, or use local stone on the front walkway. Also, consider using leftover logs or cleared trees to make everything from mantels to furniture—not only will it be good for the earth and your pocketbook, it’ll make your home that much more authentic.
11. Add a few original touches:
Consider this: Just two or three unique decor choices can take a room from ordinary to the sublime. Such is the case in the kitchen of this Montana masterpiece—while the design of the room is pretty standard, the homeowner elevated the overall feel by opting for distressed, glazed hickory for the cabinets, as well as a stove reminiscent of a bygone era and slate floors complete with Grizzly bear paw prints. Not only do these touches complete the Western motif the homeowner desired, but they also add both function and incomparable style to the space.
12. Let your floorplan sprawl:
You’ve heard it time and time again: The best way to save money is to build up, not out. So a sprawling floorplan that stretches its reach horizontally is perhaps the epitome of luxury. This Wyoming log home goes on for 5,682 square feet to be exact, including two small upper level spaces.
To say that this is living on a grand scale is putting it mildly (the home’s design was inspired by Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Lodge), especially when you add in the many corner turns in the footprint, which break up the long “railroad” design into manageable and livable wings. You can get the same rambling effect without stretching your budget to such lengths, though, by cutting down on the number of corners and overall square footage, and keeping your roofline simple.
See also: Making a Luxury Log Home on a Budget