As a little girl growing up in Merrill, Wisconsin, Sue OKray recalls frequent overnight visits with her great aunt who lived in a small log cottage. Those fond memories—and later taking her husband Tom along for visits—inspired the OKrays’ dream of living in their own log home.

“I always felt really safe and comfortable at my aunt’s cottage,” Sue says. “When I started taking my husband there, we both just had a great feeling—we loved the log home.”
As for Tom, “I like the wood, and I love to come home from a trip, walk in the door, and take in the wonderful smell of the logs,” he says. “I like the masculinity in the logs and how strong they look.”

Though the dream of living in a log home seemed out of reach financially during the early years of their marriage, their wish came true after more than a decade of dreaming and planning.

“Years ago, we started researching and touring different log home companies,” Sue says. “We just kept saving and saving our money until, one day, we finally made our dream come true.”

In 2007 the couple selected Wisconsin Log Homes of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Tom especially liked the company’s Thermal Log Building System—a hybrid technology that blends fully insulated, conventionally built walls with handcrafted logs on both the interior and exterior. The system results in greater insulation than full logs, and air infiltration is completely eliminated. He also liked that the company offers national turnkey services. Before they made their decision, the couple visited the Wisconsin Log Homes headquarters to tour the mill, design center, and a few completed homes in the area. They were very impressed with what they saw and the services that were offered. They also felt at ease knowing that their home consultant would be visiting their site during the design phase.

Like most custom home owners, Tom and Sue had very definite ideas of what they wanted, and their dreams took off and grew into a beautiful 5,384-square-foot home. With preliminary drawings underway, Ehren Graf, Wisconsin Log Homes’ national design consultant, and builder Dave Lipovsky of Lipovsky Building Co., Harrison, Michigan, walked the Georgia property with the couple, providing a clear sense of direction and confidence.

Located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, the OKray home—named “Hidden Oak” in honor of the enormous old oak tree that stands behind the house—sits on a 6.5-acre lot along a private lake in the Hidden Lake Estates subdivision. The picturesque setting at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains features plenty of large, mature trees that offer privacy for the homeowners. The town also is home to Callaway Gardens, a 13,000-acre destination featuring the world’s largest azalea exhibition and one of North America’s largest butterfly conservatories.

Dave Lipovsky constructed the OKray design with Wisconsin Log Homes’ hand-scribed 8-inch saddle-notch white pine logs.

The OKrays, whose son is physically disabled and confined to a wheelchair, designed the home with wide hallways and doorways, as well as an elevator to allow him to access any space within the home. These features also are helpful to Sue, who has difficulty getting around because of muscle weakness. Additionally, all of the full bathrooms are large enough to accommodate the wide turn radius of a wheelchair. Though their son doesn’t live with the couple, these features allow him to have independence in the home when he visits.

The open concept floorplan features numerous spots for relaxing, including a sunroom, a canopy porch with a hot tub outside of the master suite, and a screened-in porch with a fireplace. The main living areas, including a great room with a massive fireplace, are spacious and ideal for entertaining large groups of friends and family.

“You can have a huge number of people over, and they can be spread out, but you still feel like you’re close together,” Sue says. “You don’t feel crowded or packed in.”

Sue describes the home’s style as “rustic elegance,” with plenty of stone accents applied throughout to create a striking contrast to

the wood. In the dining room and entryway, for example, an accent wall is covered with architectural stone.

“When we designed the home, we wanted it to look like you were still one with nature,” Sue explains. “The colors, the stone, the wood—we hoped when you went from the inside to the outside, there wouldn’t be a big transition and that you would be comfortable.”

Other personalized touches within the home include a dining table hand-crafted for the couple by Wisconsin Log Homes’ founder, Dave Janczak. Unique furniture, vanity tops, custom interior doors, built-in shelves, and decorative concrete at the entrance and on the porches were designed and built by Lipovsky Building Co.

Sue says she and Tom are grateful that they were able to build a log home. “This is our dream home, and no one can take that from us,” she says. “Many people dream of owning a log home and are never able to achieve that. We are so thankful God gave us this wonderful opportunity to live here.”