When you decide to build a log home, you gain a long list of benefits, including a beautiful home that will enhance your quality of life.  But one major benefit is not always immediately apparent:  You gain the opportunity to design a home that truly meets the personal needs and lifestyle of you and your family.

When you work with a high quality log home manufacturer, you have access to a team of design professionals that can provide a high level of assistance in this process.  But you will have many personal decisions to consider.  This post will hopefully provide some guidance as we discuss 10 key considerations in designing your log home.

1. Recognize that the three most important factors in determining a log home design are:  the personal needs of you and your family, the proposed site of the log home, and your budget.  A log home design is often the result of balancing these factors. 

If you have not yet chosen a site for your log home, you have added flexibility.  You can develop a log home design and then identify land that will be a good fit.

2. While it is good to know those key details that you are going to ultimately want to include in your log home, in the early stages of design it is best to spend most of your time making decisions about the most basic design features:  size in square feet, number of levels, number of rooms, basic layout, etc.  These features will often determine how the more detailed design questions are addressed.

3. When deciding on a design, think about both day-to-day living in the log home versus the “events” (family gatherings, vacations, parties) that may occur there.  Day-to-day considerations may favor a design element such as the convenience of “single-level living”.  “Event” considerations could include the size of great rooms and the inclusion of guest bedrooms.

4. Consider the “special purpose areas” that the log home may need to include, such as home offices, game rooms, “man caves”, space for a home theatre, hobby rooms, etc.  Since log homes often lend themselves to a “loft” style floor plan, the loft area may accommodate some of the above uses.

5. Consider the opportunities (and constraints) offered by the site of your new log home.  Sight lines, orientation versus the sun, and the direction of prevailing winds can all be taken into account when designing your log home and the associated decks, porches, patios, and other outdoor spaces.  If your log home is to be built on a grade, a walk-out basement becomes an option.

6. Once you have a basic idea of what your log home design needs to encompass, you can take one of two paths: You can identify an already existing log home plan that comes close to fulfilling the basic requirements of your design, and then modify it until you have evolved a plan that meets your requirements; or, you can develop the outlines of a plan on a blank sheet of paper and work with a log home designer to complete the plan.

If you are working with a high quality log home company, they will be able to accommodate either of these approaches.  Recognize that if you are taking approach number 2 and developing a log home plan from “scratch”, it will be especially important to involve a professional designer who will be able to ensure that the design is structurally sound and complies with the building code requirements in the area that you are building.

7. If you are working with a high quality log home company, you will have the ability to choose from a variety of log profiles and corner joinery.  The choice of log profile and corner treatment can contribute to or reinforce the particular style of a log home:  stockade corners and round logs impart a more rustic feel, dovetail corners exemplify craftsmanship and durability, flat surface logs can help support a more streamlined, modern feel. Visiting log home sales models and examining sample materials and photos of the different options can all help with the log profile decision.

8. Decisions on the windows and doors for your log home are a key consideration.  Windows will be an important part of the lighting scheme for your log home, so think about how each room will be lit by windows and lighting fixtures.  And of course, choice of window placement and style can be used to make the most of the sightlines and views offered by your particular site.  Log homes have accommodated a wide range of window styles from the conventional double hung and bay windows, to triangles, trapezoids, and octagons. 

Entryway doors often make a strong first impression, so it is worth giving some serious thought to this choice.  For transitions to porches and decks, french doors or sliders are often good choices. 

Windows and doors are available in durable, low maintenance cladding material that is available in a range of colors to complement your log home.

9. As the basic design takes shape, you can begin to focus more of your time on the surfaces and finishes in the log home:  flooring, cabinetry, counter tops, plumbing fixtures, etc.  These choices can now be made in the context of your basic design and in keeping with the styles that you have defined.

10. There are a number of considerations in selecting a stain for your log home.  In terms of color, earth-toned stains generally work best.  Lighter stains tend to show the grain of the wood better; darker stains tend to resist the UV rays of the sun longer and will have a longer life between re-coats.  The sheen of the stain is also a consideration:  penetrating stains have a low-gloss finish, while higher gloss options are also available.  Either sheen can offer a good level of protection for the logs.  The penetrating stains tend to be a bit easier to apply.