LogCabin.com Article on log cabin home for Dec. 13 edition of “Inspirations.”
W/PHOTOS (taken 12/2), CAPTIONS (see end of article) & “To Achieve This
Word count: 836 mainbar; 275 sidebar
HED: Log cabin living
SUBHEAD: These solid, rough-hewn structures boast long wear, affordability and rustic
Fast fact: Typical log homeowners are married, with a college degree and family income of more than $50,000. -- Log Home Living Institute survey
By Dawn Van Jordan
For The Columbian
Log homes are a billion-dollar-a-year industry, with Washington state ranking in the top
10 states for log home construction.
What fuels demand for these homes? Log homes are inexpensive -- the average log home
package sells for $42,000. And log homes are surprisingly fire resistant -- heavy timber
and large logs burn more slowly than smaller size dimension lumber.
Log homes also are energy efficient. The thermal mass of log walls make log homes as
energy efficient as conventionally insulated walls, with many tests showing that properly
installed solid log wall systems are among the most efficient wall systems in use today.
What‘s the greatest factor? With its picked-from-nature coloring and rustic feel, log
homes are just plain cozy.
―You just feel like you‘re home,‖ said Becky Corvi, who owns a log-clad home in
Vancouver‘s Salmon Creek-area. ―I‘ve lived here less than four years, and I feel like I‘ve
lived here all my life.‖
Most log homes are used as a primary residence. But log homes also are used for summer
cabins, guesthouses, ski cabins, saunas, barns, rental units, even commercial buildings.
Log homes lend themselves beautifully to Christmas décor. Each year Corvi, for instance,
creates a Christmas village that takes over the foyer, with additional Christmas touches
behind couches, displayed in glass-fronted cupboards, and draped on mantels and side
But it‘s the exterior of a log home that more often gets the looks. Often logs are coated with a stain that closely matches the wood. Pigmented stains block ultraviolet light, protecting the wood from discoloration and making the stain itself last longer than clear exterior stains.
At Corvi‘s home, an unconventional coating of marine varnish was used. It serves much
the same purpose as a pigmented stain, without the addition of color. That‘s what gives the wood its honey-gold look, which is a sun-tanned version of how the logs originally looked when installed in 1952.
―I‘ll have people stop and ask if they can touch the logs,‖ Corvi said. ―You get all kinds of interesting characters. It‘s kind of the responsibility of living here that you share it.‖
Marine varnish, like other varnishes, must be repaired or recoated every seven years: ―It‘s kind of like paint,‖ she said.
Timber talk There are now more than 400,000 log homes in the United States and Canada, and popularity is growing. A Log Home Living Institute survey found that 41 percent more log homes are being constructed now than in 1988.
What about price? The average log home package sells for $42,000. The Institute figures that the finished price of a log home, excluding land, averages $149,000.
Styles of log homes range from veneers to heavy timber construction. Any conventional house plan can be built with logs.
Log walls are 6-inches to 15-inches thick, and most often are pine, spruce, cedar, oak or Douglas fir. Logs typically are harvested from Oregon, Idaho, Montana or Canada.
Here‘s a brief rundown of the types of log homes, provided by The Log Home
Cooperative of America:
1. ―Log clad‖ homes are traditional homes clad with logs sawn in half. The photos with this story are of a log-clad home. From the exterior, the home looks like a log home. The interior, however, has the same drywall or other interior finish as a traditional home.
2. The "D" style is by far the most popular log profile in the log home market today, probably because the interior is flat and easy to work with.
3. The "chinked" square log is well received in both the East and West. New "log on log" designs with double tongue and groove are a vast improvement over the designs of earlier American pioneers. Traditionally, this log is hand hewn with a V-groove on the inside. Chinking (a cement-like substance between logs) and hand hewing are interior options as well.
4. The Round/Round log is for those who prefer the rounded log look on both the interior
and the exterior. The corner system is a mortise and tenon.
5. In a neighborhood that frowns on a log home, beveled logs meet the exterior criteria
and still create the log home interior the homeowner desires. A post corner or dovetail
corner system might be used.
6. The full round log is milled with Swedish cope. The Saddle Notch corner is a must for
A log home can be finished in any style — from natural to contemporary to rustic or
refurbished. For a bright, contemporary look, timbers often are brushed with clear tung
oil. For a natural look, a light to medium finish is used to highlight natural character
marks such as knots. For a folksy look, frames are stained white with a pickling agent.
Recycled timber is another option. Salvaged from old mills or barns, these old timbers
lend a weathered look to a new structure. Many retain character marks -- such as mortise
pockets, nail heads and knife-cut measurements – that lend even greater character to the
rustically cozy log home.
HED: To achieve this look….
Log homes provide a picturesque backdrop to seasonal décor. That‘s one of the reason‘s
Rebecca Corvi bought her log home in the first place: ―It was on my wish list.‖
So how would you get started copying the look at Corvi‘s home? It won‘t be easy.
Corvis‘s collection includes 3,000 Christmas tree lights, five animated deer, a family of
snowmen and holiday village pieces collected since 1993.
―This didn‘t happen this year, or last year,‖ she said. ―I‘m 56, and it‘s been a gradual
Here are some tips from Corvis on how to plan ahead for grand Christmas decor.
1. Have patience, said Corvis. ―Your first inclination is to accomplish everything at once.‖ Start with something you love, she says, and build on that. Her daughter gave her
the first village piece in 1994, and the entire Christmas village grew from that.
2. Plan on a jump in electrical costs. Corvi spends almost $200 each month during the
holidays, which is about $150 more than other winter months. ―The electrician keeps
asking me, ‗So, how many circuits do we need this year?‘‖
She‘s added two dedicated circuits for the Christmas tree, on a dimmer switch, ―so when
the lights are on full blast, I can reduce them down to really dim.‖
3. All lights are on dimmer switches, including the lights for the clouds in the Christmas
village, ―so I can create either a night or a daytime feel for the village.‖
4. Exterior house lights are all on timer switches, with dedicated circuits. Corvis says
she‘s probably added $2,000 of wiring just for Christmas lighting. Dedicated circuits cost
a few hundred dollars each.
Caption fact options
Logs at home -- A natural creek, La Londe Creek, flows through the front of the one-
acre property surrounding this Salmon Creek-area log-clad cabin. The cabin was built in
1952, and includes 1,000 square feet of decking. (It‘s topped with a concrete tile roof.)
Snowman corner – Log-clad homeowner Rebecca Corner uses one corner of the living
room for a winter snowman corner. ―I‘m particularly fond of the log-clad versus log-inside-and-out homes,‖ Corvi said. ―I like the regular walls.‖ Shown here only partially finished, this corner will soon be decorated with snowman tree ornaments, freestanding
snowmen (some whimsical, some lit) and blue ribbons.
Christmas village – This village, amassed over the years thanks to annual purchases and
gifts from friends and family, comes from collectible-maker Department 56, the Eden
Prairie, Minn., company that created Snowbabies Figurines. Shown is Department 56‘s
North Pole Series. Others are The Original Snow Village Collection, Dickens' Village
Series and a newly introduced New England village scene. Department 56 products can
be found at department, home accessory, and collectible stores and online at