Choosing a Log Home Floor Plan that is Right for You
By Tom Heatherington
You made your decision; you are finally going to build that log home. Not just any log home, but that special creation you’ve held in your mind’s eye for so many years.
You have walked on those hardwood floors, gazed out from behind those over-sized picture windows, cooked dinner, curled up by the fire, and even slept in that special home – using that vivid imagination of yours. Oh yeah, you’ve been dreaming about your log home for a long time, and you have finally decided to make your dream become your reality.
Got land? Before you spend too much time browsing floor plan possibilities, you need to know where that home will be built. Not all floor plan designs are suited for all building sites. For instance, a walk-out basement typically requires a home being built on a slope or recessed into a hillside. Additionally, some plans are designed to take advantage of the home’s location relative to sunlight so even if you already own your land, you will want to know where and how your home will be positioned on your property. Once you have an idea of where those logs will be stacked it’s time to figure out what that stack needs to look like.
Now the fun begins, and the first order of business is to choose the right floor plan that is consistent with the home you have pictured in your mind’s eye – and the property on which it will be built. Odds are you’ll probably not open a magazine by chance and stumble upon a floor plan that has occupied your dreams all these years. Choosing a plan and refining the design to meet your needs will require some research, self-introspection and creative inspiration.
By and large, almost any residential floor plan can be adapted to a log home, but there are substantial differences and considerations that need to be addressed. One such example is that of room dimensions as they relate to the diameter of the logs you will be utilizing. A custom handcrafted home made from 20″ diameter logs will have a different footprint than one requiring 6″ milled logs. If this is the first time you will be dealing with a log home manufacturer or architect, make sure you are comparing ‘apples to apples’ when discussing interior dimensions. If you want a room to be 14′ wide, make certain that your designer knows that you want the interior of the room to have 14′ of open clearance and not measured from the center of the corresponding logs. Using the example above, your 14′ room could shrink to 12′ if such presumptions are not understood.
A floor plan is about space deployment, or more specifically, the space you want (or need) for family members, guests, pets, entertaining and basic household operations (i.e. cooking, dining, laundry, storage, etc.). Furthermore, it is easy to overlook space requirements for many things we take for granted such as hobbies, displaying collections and other family activities. Try to anticipate as many of your family’s needs as possible and expand your floor plan to accommodate your desires.
Once you have identified this all-encompassing ‘wish list’ you will almost certainly find yourself over budget. If money is no object – no problem, but if that Lotto jackpot has so far eluded you there are things you can do to bring that budget back in line. The most obvious and often least expensive way of doubling your floor space is to make use of the basement. A properly designed and finished basement is the perfect place to have a spare guest bedroom, home theater, hobby or play rooms, additional bathroom(s), laundry facilities or a home office.
One of the best tips about using a basement for additional living space is to raise the ceiling. Adding an extra foot (or more) in the height of your basement ceiling is much less expensive than adding an additional floor or expanding the overall floor plan, and the added height will eliminate that closed-in feeling you get with so many basements.
Adding or enlarging dormers is another way of capturing space from a second story or loft that is framed by a sloping roof line. You will be surprised how a well-positioned dormer can make a small loft appear much larger and provide vertical walls to accept seating, bookcases or tables that usually will not work with a conventional knee wall.
It is also a good idea to keep a list of things that you don’t like; things you may have seen in a magazine or noted when visiting other log homes. Some of the most frequent complaints one hears about log homes, especially older models, is the lack of storage space and small closets or bathrooms. This is most often the result of poor planning or not taking into consideration the diameter of log walls and the lack of attics in most log homes. Refer to your list when discussing details with your designer and remember that in most cases you cannot build a closet or a bathroom that is too large.
These are just a few ideas that can help you choose and refine a floor plan to fit your lifestyle and accommodate your family’s needs. Your log home company or architect will have many ideas that you may not have considered so encourage them to offer suggestions. Explain what you are trying to achieve and let their experience and knowledge guide you, but in the end, this is your floor plan.
Helping people design the log home of their dreams was the inspiration behind the Log Home Directory’s “Floor Plan Showcase“. Visitors now have an opportunity to browse as many as ten floor plans form each featured log home manufacturer without visiting dozens of different websites. These leading manufacturers display their most popular floor plans with descriptions, photos or renderings and links to additional information on their individual websites.
About The Author
Tom Heatherington is the founder and editor of the Log Furniture Directory and the Log Cabin Directory, “human edited” directories of log homes and rustic furniture and related information for the United States and Canada.