When you plan a home—whether it is a vacation getaway or your primary home—there is a long list of important criteria to consider. Location often tops the list, followed closely by lifestyle. Nestled in a valley on more than 400 acres of rolling, forested hills in southwestern Wisconsin, this stunning timber-style home meets all the criteria for homeowners Mary and Jonathan. It’s within easy driving distance of their primary residence in Iowa, is set on plenty of acreage, and is spacious enough for entertaining family and friends.
Jonathan grew up in this part of Wisconsin and spent time looking for a vacation getaway in the region. What he found was not just any ordinary piece of property. Once a Boy Scout camp, there are miles of trails to explore throughout the property and a small lake with a dock. Hikers and hunters alike might chance upon one of the vintage schoolhouses that the previous owner collected and left behind when he sold to Mary and Jonathan.
The family has built several homes previously, so they knew what they wanted, and knew that a timber-style home would fit right in. The next step was finding a home designer and builder they trusted to bring their vision to life. Jonathan did research and found Wisconsin Log Homes, a nationwide full-service team out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, to bring their visions to fruition.
Built in 2016, the secluded home is set just far enough off the main road to afford some privacy and overlooks a bucolic meadow and the small lake. Wisconsin Log Homes’ design team strategically placed the home on its property to maximize the views from each space using state-of-the-art design technology during the planning phase.
The couple wanted this to be a place to host large groups during the holidays and needed enough space for when family and friends come to visit. “We spend every Thanksgiving up there,” says Mary, noting that last year they hosted a group of 25 for the holiday.
Accommodating that many guests is no problem for Mary and Jonathan. The dining table has space for 12, and the kitchen is anchored by a huge island with plenty of meal prep space and seating for another six people. “We have always gravitated to the kitchen and around an island,” says Mary. “We’re very casual so it makes sense to have a big island in the kitchen—that’s where we end up hanging out.”
The main floor of the home is 2,200 square feet, encompassing a master suite, mud room, laundry room, kitchen with walk-in pantry, dining area, and great room. The 1,500-square-foot basement has three bedrooms, each with an adjoining bathroom, and a family room—affording guests ample privacy and space to spread out.
A unique feature of the home is the 900-square-foot guest wing, connected to the main home by the four-stall garage, which Jonathan calls “The Boar’s Nest.” An avid hunter, Jonathan conceived of the space as a hunting lodge. The Boar’s Nest provides comfortable extra guest rooms and is the ideal space for the family’s hunting buddies to stay when they head there during hunting season. The result is almost a complete second house: the guest wing has a kitchen and living area, two bedrooms, and a large bathroom with two showers and two toilets plus a farmhouse sink.
With its abundant natural beauty, this sprawling timber-style ranch with wood exterior looks right at home on Mary and Jonathan’s property. “We used our Timber-Lock product that we manufacture in our own sawmill,” says Cassie Christianson, in-house interior designer and project coordinator at Wisconsin Log Homes, also noting the truss accents and square-beamed corners.
The interior design was born out of a fruitful working partnership between Mary and Wisconsin Log Homes. “Mary was in on all the initial meetings and then we worked together to pick finishes,” says Christianson.
Mary relied on Christianson’s expertise on colors and selections, within the framework of her own style and design preferences. “I know what I want but I need help implementing it,” says Mary. “I showed Cassie some pictures of the styles I liked, and she really simplified it and understood what we wanted.”
The interior features stunning pine ceiling beams in the kitchen, dining room, and master bedroom, and a pine timber stairway, giving the home an old-world elegance. The great room features handcrafted arched trusses and a pine-paneled ceiling. The great room—Mary’s favorite space in the house—is anchored by a stacked stone fireplace surrounded by built-in wood shelves and cabinets. Oversized windows in the great room, dining room, and master suite capture the ample natural light and frame views of the lake and meadow, giving the home a bright and airy feeling. Engineered wood floors were used throughout the main floor with tile in all the bathrooms, while the basement is carpeted.
As is often the case, the attention to detail makes a big difference, with great care put into selecting finishing touches like light fixtures that make a statement. “In the great room we did a rustic chandelier and also put a chandelier in the master bedroom to add a little bit of character,” says Christianson. The end result is a cozy, rustic—but still refined—style, with soft neutral tones used throughout. “I’ve worked with others in the past who didn’t get it, but Cassie and the Wisconsin Log Homes team were wonderful to work with,” says Mary. “They listened to what we wanted and brought it to life.”