What would your dream getaway in the woods look like? If you love a combination of rustic charm, modern amenities, luxurious details, plenty of space for the whole family and gorgeous scenery, this Canadian log cabin paradise might be right up your alley. Featured in Log Home Living, the country retreat overlooks a lake near Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec.
The house was originally custom-designed and built by local log home builder Patriote Home for a Norwegian family, which explains all the fairytale Scandinavian touches.
“Tucked in one corner of the garden, a playhouse that looks as though it was plucked from a fairy tale is the spot the couple’s two young grandchildren gravitate towards most during their visits. The Scandinavian-style structure was built from a kit that the previous owners had shipped over from Norway. The 15-by-15-foot, well-insulated building includes electricity, elaborately carved details and, topping it all off, a grass roof that keeps the interior warm in winter and cool in summer. When the grass gets too long, the owner climbs onto the roof and trims it with a weed-eater. The same type of eco-friendly roof covers the detached garage, as well.”
New owners Mario Lavoie and Carole Rousseau were in love with the 20-year-old Eastern White Pine log home, and added some personal touches of their own, hiring an interior designer to bring in just the right mix of contemporary furnishings. The front of the home is stunning, but the back is clearly the star of the show: it features floor-to-ceiling glass on the two upper levels and a second-story deck overlooking a gorgeous terraced garden.
Learn more about why so many builders choose Eastern White Pine for timber frame structures.
Recently sold in Stillwater, New Jersey, about an hour outside New York City, is an incredible custom log cabin in the country – though the word “cabin” doesn’t exactly convey the reality of this luxurious residence. Sitting on nearly 25 private acres of equestrian farmland, the home is made from hand-peeled Eastern White Pine logs using the Scandinavian full scribe technique, in which each log is notched to fit together without the use of fasteners like nails and screws.
“The generously proportioned great room features floor-to-ceiling windows offering pastoral views and a floor-to-ceiling propane gas fireplace constructed of stone, limestone and granite. An open double stairway leads to a loft and the lower level. The great room’s soaring ceiling is brightened by stained-glass lighting fixtures and integrated ambient lighting. French doors open onto a second story deck with a large gable porch.”
“The main floor master suite is a sunlit haven with cathedral ceilings and large display lofts. French doors open to the outside deck. The master bathroom with double French hinged doors leads to a 1,200-pound travertine marble soaking tub with freestanding custom faucet, an antique stained-glass light, dual walk-in closets, a travertine-and-pebble shower with seat and sprays, and a reclaimed copper-and-choke-cherrywood vanity with antler handles and a hand-hammered copper sink.”
The 5,400-square-foot home also features hand-built open log stairways, a walk-in chef’s pantry, a guest suite, three insulated oversized garages, custom wooden doors, Energy Star appliances, six-zone radiant heating beneath the flooring, materials like river-washed marble and floating cork and a passive solar design. That’s barely the half of it. You can read the rest of the details on this unusual home at The Daily Record and see a full gallery at Coldwell Banker.
Now, back to those hand-peeled logs. If you’ve ever wondered just what goes into a process like this, check out the video above. It really reinforces how much craftsmanship and care went into log structures that were entirely handmade, before the days of modern tools and machinery.
Traditional timber-based building methods get a fresh spin with a 118,400-square-foot complex planned for a former garrison area in Helsinki, Finland. AOR Architects won a competition to design the Tuusula High School and Community Center with their streamlined design, set to become the world’s largest timber log school. Not only do the logs give the building a feeling of solidity and gravitas, they’ll help decrease carbon emissions produced during the construction process and throughout the lifespan of the structures.
“Being an organic and breathable building material, wood also improves the quality of interior air and acoustics,” notes AOR in their description of the project.
The school will provide a new learning environment incorporating flexible, multi-functional open-plan spaces where various school subjects can overlap. Many of the basic learning spaces occupy informal, open areas of the main building’s lobby spaces rather than closed-off classrooms as “a way to create a sense of community, share resources and promote collaboration and interaction between different groups of society.”
The complex consists of five singular buildings that come together to form a whole. AOR refers to these buildings as ‘log houses’ set along interior pedestrian ‘streets’ to create the sense of a miniature city.
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Few of us have any concept of what it’s like to take on the responsibility of cutting down trees and using manual tools to painstakingly craft the timber into a completely handmade log cabin that’ll last for centuries to come. The work – and skill – involved in the process is really kind of mind-boggling, but thankfully there are still craftspeople today who maintain the knowledge and practice of these techniques. This video posted on YouTube provides an overview, nearly start-to-finish, of a log cabin being built from scratch.
“I built my house from trees I felled with an axe and two man crosscut saw in my own forest,” says Jacob, a carpenter, craftsman and founder of John Neeman Tools. “In the building process I used mostly traditional carpenters hand tools – axes, hand saws, timber framing chisels and sticks, old Stanley planes, augers, draw knives and mostly human energy… in the walls, timber frame and roof construction there I used only wood joints and wooden pegs to hold the main construction together – no nails, screws or steel plates.”
“To preserve the wood from spoiling, frame posts, sills, top beams and final cladding boards are treated with fire and pine tar mixed with Tung oil. This wood preservation technique was adapted from the Japanese traditional wood preservation technique Shou Sugi Ban.”
“I have fulfilled my vision to build natural, ecological house with high thermal efficiency, low energy consumption, sustainable, using local materials such as – wood, stone, old and new clay bricks, moss, linen fibre, clay, water, lime, wheat flour, salt and wood shavings.”
Eastern white pine was chosen as the primary material for a series of cottages at White Water Village, a sustainable, all-season community on the Ottawa River in Canada. Built by Kealey & Tackaberry Log Homes, the cottages feature timber dove-tail log construction and include a timber-framed screen room and an open deck.
Kealey & Tackaberry is dedicated to creating homes that meet their clients’ needs, style and budget using materials that are sustainable and renewable. The company seeks out materials that are both environmentally responsible and authentic.
Eastern white pine meets these requirements both in its standout beauty as long, large-circumference hand-peeled or hewn logs, and by being harvested at the end of its life cycle to ensure healthy forests. “In fact, our homes leave a small carbon footprint behind,” says K&T. “We believe, with each home produced, we actually help create a better world.”
The natural beauty and character of Eastern White Pine logs is so striking, sometimes it just needs to take center stage. That’s certainly the case when it comes to log homes, which put all of the architectural focus on the simplicity and charm of raw wood, resulting in a home that feels like it’s a part of the forest.
One example is this 1700-square-foot residence on Brassua Lake in Maine, designed and built by Grandview Log & Timber Frames. Set at the water’s edge, surrounded by trees, the home seems like a natural fit in its environment, the logs giving it a sense of weight and timelessness.
Full-round log homes use thick, smoothed-down logs stacked together with notched ends. Careful shaping as well as the weight of the wood create solid, well-sealed walls that don’t require any sort of mortar.
The striking simplicity of these structures, best seen when they’re still under construction and consist of nothing but the log frame itself, has been prized for century after century. See more Eastern White Pine log homes at GrandviewTimbers.com.