These days everyone’s favorite color seems to be “green.” In a log cabin, there’s no better place to showcase the benefits and the beauty of this eco-minded hue better than the great room. Whether your goal is to protect Mother Earth, save some cash on your monthly electric bill, or ensure your home has that natural, rustic touch, these four fantastic options will take your family’s everyday living space from good to great.
Think you can’t do your part for the planet and make your great room gorgeous at the same time? Think again. By using reclaimed wood for flooring, mantelpieces, and trim, you can instantly give your brand new home the rustic charm of a cabin that’s been around for decades. Wood salvaged from old barns, trestles, and razed houses is completely cured and dimensionally stable, so it won’t twist, warp or separate after it’s been installed in your home. Plus, it often bears the perfectly imperfect scars of its previous life, giving it tons of character. But just because it’s “used” doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Depending on its species, quality, and availability, reclaimed wood can be pricey. For example, reclaimed maple can cost about $10 and up per square foot, while harder-to-find species, such as antique chestnut, can run upward of $30 per square foot. By comparison, a square foot of new hardwood flooring costs, on average, $3 to $12.
Nearly everyone wants their home to be flooded with natural light, and in fact the more sunshine you can usher into your home, the less energy you’ll have to use to illuminate and heat it. But essentially, everywhere you install a window, you carve a hole in your home’s building envelope. For maximum energy efficiency, it’s essential to use the highest quality windows you can. Try “super windows,” a combination of all the best technology on the market. Super windows integrate multiple layers of glass with low-emission (low-E) coatings that reflect infrared light/heat and gas (often argon) fills between the panes. Then the glass is encased in insulated fiberglass frames for one of the tightest window systems around. In fact, manufacturers have been able to craft these windows to emulate the insulating properties of solid walls. A super window’s U value can be as good as 0.07. That’s the equivalent of an R-14 wall. Treat your windows to some stylish solar shades and you can add an extra shot of UV protection to your already energy-efficient great room.
Stone You Own
Want an eco-friendly finishing material that’s totally natural and completely free? We’ve got one for you: stone direct from your property. Most log cabin great rooms boast some sort of fireplace. And since stone is the most sought after material to finish off that firebox, why not save large pieces of rock as you excavate your property for your foundation? It costs you nothing and it will tie your great room to its natural surroundings perfectly.
When choosing an interior stain to enrich the beauty of your great room’s log walls, knowing you made the right choice can help you breathe a little easier—literally. A low- or no-VOC (stands for “volatile organic compounds”) stain will bring out the warm tones of your wood while it protects it, and it does so without infusing the interior air with toxic fumes and overpowering odors, which can be especially harmful to children and the elderly. Low VOC stains are typically water-based, too, making clean-up a breeze. Isn’t that a breath of fresh air?