After working with thousands of people who have aspired to log home ownership, we have learned that “log home lifestyle” can mean very different things to different people. And that is one of the unique aspects of a log home: people “make it their own” in a very personal way. Following are some of the general areas of log home appeal that we have recognized among our many log home customers. But these categories are not mutually exclusive: we have found that a log home can appeal to the same person for several of these reasons.
Pride in America’s Heritage
Log cabins and log homes are closely intertwined with the history and settlement of the United States. Seven U.S. presidents were born in log cabins, including Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson. Log cabins afforded early American settlers a durable, protective structure that could be fashioned from locally available materials.
The first American log cabins were constructed circa 1640 in the Swedish colony of New Sweden, in an area where New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania now border one another. The oldest known surviving log house in the United States, the C.A. Nothnagle Log House, in New Jersey, dates from this time frame.
Log structures continued to evolve, and became quite elaborate with the Adirondack-style cabins of the mid-19th century. This style was adopted by the United States Park Service for many of the lodges that the organization constructed at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. With the onset of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt directed the Civilian Conservation Corps to build log lodges for use by the National Park Service and the Forest Service.
The American heritage of log homes resonates with many current day log home owners, who take satisfaction in knowing that they are sustaining a venerable American tradition.
Desire to Dwell in the Great Outdoors: Mountains, Lakes and Forests
The natural beauty of log homes has traditionally made them a favored choice of people who have the opportunity to live (at least part of the time) in the mountains, on a lake or shoreline, or in the woods. A log home is particularly harmonious with these settings, as it possesses both the beauty of nature and a unique peacefulness that can only be found in these places. It is no wonder that so many people have opted for a log home as a family vacation home or a retirement dwelling in one of these very special settings. And from those fortunate enough to live in a log home full time, we have heard many times over that it is “like being on vacation every day”.
Allure of the Drama and Romance of Log Homes
The natural drama and romance of log homes is a major factor in their popularity. The extensive use of wood interior surfaces tends to create an atmospheric “glow” that is unique to log homes. This glow is accentuated by the natural light from a hearth or candlelight.
Other features associated with log homes enhance their dramatic impact: soaring, vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces, and cozy lofts all add to the experience. The result is a truly special environment, one that naturally reduces stress and creates positive moods that are conducive to everything from intimate romantic evenings to large family gatherings.
For the above reasons, many people build a log home with the express purpose of making it a personal and family legacy, to be handed down through the generations.
Rustic Charm Appeal
A quality of log homes that is closely related to their historical heritage is the rustic charm that they have to offer. These rustic qualities hearken back to a simpler, more basic way of life. There is a uniqueness that is associated with exposed wood, with its own particular grain, knots, and flaws, that cannot be replicated with heavily processed, commodity building materials. The often rough-hewn finish of a log home also provides an authenticity that modern building materials cannot match.
The rustic charm of a log home is often complemented, and reinforced, by furnishings and decor that offer their own rustic qualities.
Personal Responsibility to the Environment and a Sustainable Lifestyle
It is not surprising that people who characterize themselves as environmentalists are increasingly attracted to log homes. They recognize that log homes offer a sustainable approach both in the origin of the raw materials as well as the ongoing operation of the home.
The logs in a log home are a renewable resource, and in the case of pine logs, often are sourced from sustainable foresting operations. In addition, the energy required to mill logs is significantly less than the energy required to produce other building materials such as brick, masonry, sheetrock, etc. This means that the logs in a log home will have a lower “carbon footprint” than these other materials and will be less of a burden on the environment.
Those who are seeking a sustainable lifestyle also appreciate the energy efficiency of log homes. The thermal mass of solid logs allows a log home to hold heat better in winter, and to better retain its cooler temperature in the summer. In this way, log homes do a great job of conserving energy, and conserving the money that pays for that energy.
An Outlet for the Sportsman
A classic log home / log cabin vignette is the hunter’s log cabin in the woods. The basic, elemental nature of a log cabin has long appealed to hunters and fishermen as the perfect shelter while pursuing their outdoor-oriented activities. In addition, a log cabin is the perfect setting for the end–of-the-day camaraderie of the sportsman’s experience.
Appreciation of the Craft
Those who appreciate a well-designed and well-constructed home are often very passionate about their log home. The custom design services offered by the best log home companies allow for a high degree of personalization of log homes that is not available in more conventional, mass produced housing.
Methods of log home construction are also valued by this group of log home enthusiasts. The mortise and tenon, dovetail, and other joinery techniques used in log homes is the hallmark of a craftsman-oriented approach, and conveys an emphasis on high quality woodworking and attention to detail.
A Refuge for the Rugged Individualist
Since the times of the earliest American settlers, log homes have appealed to those rugged individualists who appreciate having some distance between themselves and the rest of civilization. In more modern times, this has often taken the form of an “off the grid” lifestyle, which provides an independence from the constraints and strictures of society. Log homes with mountain or forest settings are especially associated with this lifestyle. Log homes which are integrated with independent sources of solar and/or geothermal energy can be of special interest to those seeking an “off the grid” approach.