Design Tips for a Comfortable Home

In winter, it seems that comfort is the theme of the season. Comfort food is the dish of the day, and we gravitate to comfortable clothes. So, it’s only natural that this time of year gets us thinking about what makes a comfortable house. Many people think that furniture is the biggest factor that determines whether a home is comfortable. While that does help, there are many aspects to a home’s design that influence how comfortable it feels. Here are a few of the most important factors that go into a comfortable house.

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A comfortable home takes planning.

Temperature is an important factor in comfort, but most people have too narrow a view of a comfortable temperature. While 72 degrees is regarded as room temperature, your comfort level probably varies throughout the day. Most people sleep better at a lower temperature than they find comfortable while awake. (Personally, I like to sleep at around 58 degrees while keeping the house around 65 in the day.) Programable thermostats are great for accomplishing this nighttime temperature set-back, and a separate heating zone for the bedrooms can also be a great idea.

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Being able to adjust the heat, especially in the bedroom, is essential for comfort.

Along with temperature, you shouldn’t neglect humidity control. In the winter cold, moisture levels in the air are low and heating your house lowers the humidity even further. For greatest comfort, you should humidify the air to around 30 to 50 percent relative humidity depending on your personal preference. In the log home, it is best to maintain a constant relative humidity year-round. Read our guide on humidity control here.

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Winter is the driest season, so humidity control is essential.

Natural light is also an aspect that contributes greatly to the comfort of rooms within the home. While windows on one wall are a great source of light, comfortable rooms usually have natural light entering from multiple sides of the room. Perhaps it is the minimized shadows that the multiple windows provide, or just the greater coverage of natural light, but given a choice people will prefer rooms with light entering from multiple directions. When designing a space where people will spend a great deal of time, like great rooms or master bedroom suites, making sure that more than one wall has windows makes the space more comfortable. Skylights can also be used in rooms where only one wall is available for windows.

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Windows on multiple walls make for very comfortable rooms.

Ceiling height is also an important consideration in making a comfortable room. Large rooms demand high ceilings to feel balanced, but the space might not be comfortable. By sloping the ceiling, like in a cathedral-ceilinged great room, the space feels balanced yet still reassuringly comfortable.

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Sloped ceilings help create comfortable spaces in large rooms.

We hope you’ve found this guide to creating a comfortable home illuminating. If you’re looking to create a comfortable log home of your own, please contact Real Log Homes today.

The Perfect Winter Home

Log home owners are usually people for whom the outdoors are a second home. Even so, they tend to have mixed feelings about winter. For many, it is one of the greatest seasons of the year, especially for those who enjoy skiing or other winter sports. For others, the winter is a harsh season that is best over as soon as possible. Both camps can agree on one fact, though; log homes are the perfect home in the winter months.

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A Real Log Home is inviting in any weather.

The appearance of a log home is one of its greatest assets in the winter. While any modern home should be able to handle the snow loads in winter, a log home’s brawny visage provides reassurance that your home is a solid structure that will stand up to the cruelest winter nights. Even once the roof has shed its snow, the natural look of a log home provides a welcome canvas of color against the drab tones of winter.

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During the holiday season, the log home also just looks like the perfect home for a family gathering. Perhaps this is due to the log home’s ingrained place in the American experience as the quintessential family home on the frontier. Or maybe the use of log cabins as vacation homes also creates this association in the mind. Whatever the cause, this innate feeling of a log home as the perfect place to gather makes it a welcoming sight during the holiday season.

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Log homes are great for gatherings.

Once inside, the log home continues to make a case for itself as a winter home. The thermal mass of log walls means that the log home feels comfortable even on the coldest nights. (And it also helps keep things cool in the summer as well!) Combined with the roar of a fire from the fireplace or radiant heat from the wood stove, it’s enough to warm the soul of even the hot-weather fans.

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A hot wood stove is a great cold-weather treat.

With the precious few daylight hours this time of year, maximizing natural light is also a priority in the winter. Thankfully, the open floor plans allowed by log construction make it easy to let in the light. With large banks of southern facing windows, perhaps combined with a cathedral ceiling great room to let in the most light, your home can be bright and warm even on the shortest days.

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Large windows help a home feel cheerful in the winter.

While log homes are great in the winter, they are equally well-suited to any season of the year. If you’re looking to build a new log home of your own, winter is a great season to start the process. Please contact us today to get started on your project!

Designing the Perfect Dining Space

A recent trend in homebuilding has been to do away with the dining room entirely. The thinking has been that homeowners no longer want the hassle of a separate and formal room and that all entertaining would take place in the great room. Recent surveys, however, have shown that most homebuyers want a formal dining area separate from the kitchen and great room. Here are some ways to design the perfect dining room for your lifestyle.

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Tall ceilings make for a less intimate dining room, but for large gatherings and parties, can make the space feel much larger.

If you want a dining area that feels connected to the kitchen, great room or other nearby space, then taller ceiling heights are very effective. The California log home above has a high cathedral ceiling with no divisions between the kitchen and dining area. This makes the space feel less formal and more an extension of the kitchen. For contrast, look at the same dining space in the picture below. When the high ceiling is cropped out, the space feels much more intimate and formal. If this same space were built as an enclosed room, it would be a perfect formal dining room.

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Without the high ceilings, the dining space feels more formal.

However, a dining room does not need to be entirely enclosed to feel more formal. The dining room below is completely open to the great room, yet it feels like an entirely different space. In part this is due to the lower ceiling in the dining room contrasting with the high, cathedral ceiling in the great room. The beam running between the rooms and the post also help to separate the two spaces.

Different ceiling structures help separate the two rooms.

Different ceiling structures help separate the two rooms.

Even rooms with the same ceiling type can be made to feel separate. The house below has a kitchen and dining room that share a common ceiling. With the post and beam between them, however, then two rooms feel like distinct spaces despite the open floor between them. The common chandelier design also ties the two spaces to each other, while the differing furniture styles between the dining table and kitchen island maintains a separate identity for each room.

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Beams and posts divide the rooms while maintaining an open plan.

This final dining space is from the cabin we featured in our “Planning a Log Home” series last year. We’ll follow up with more pictures later, but felt these dining table chairs deserved to be shared now. With such an intricate design, they’re sure to be a conversation starter for any guests. This dining space feels connected with the rest of the home, as appropriate for a small cabin.

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A small cabin dining area with wonderful chairs.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at how to design a dining space, and we also hope you’ll enjoy your Thanksgiving Day. We’re taking the next week off from the blog and hope you will be relaxing as well. As always, if you have any question about any of the homes you see in the blog, please contact Real Log Homes today!

Lakeland Log Homes Model Home in Minnesota

While log homes can look great on paper, to truly appreciate their nature you need to experience one in person. Given the huge scale of the logs, no drawing can make you feel the sense of awe you get from living in a Real Log Home. For this reason, many of our Independent Representatives have model log homes that they use to show off the features of a REAL™ Log Home. Here is a look at one of those model log homes.

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This is the model home for Lakeland Log Homes, located in Osakis, Minnesota. It is derived from the Crystal Lake standard plan (and different from the similarly-sized Lakeland found here). The logs used are the standard contour profile. The most striking feature of the outside is the large kingpost truss that supports the roof over the porch area. Although this is among the simplest of truss designs, it is quite impressive when executed with full-round logs.

The first floor plan.

Stepping inside, we find a small sitting area and then immediately enter the kitchen. The U-shaped workspace provides plenty of room to work, with the range set at a diagonal at one of the corners of the kitchen. There is also bar seating here for informal dining. The dining room nearby is partly enclosed, marking it as a slightly more formal space removed from the kitchen and great room.

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The kitchen and entryway.

The great room features a massive stone fireplace, flanked on each side by windows. The room also has a cathedral ceiling overhead with very massive log rafters and beams. The great room also provides access to the loft space over the kitchen and dining rooms. The spiral log staircase providing this access is yet another display of the fine craftsmanship possible in a log home. The loft space is used as an office, but due to its large size it could easily be divided into multiple rooms including additional bedrooms.

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The great room, with fireplace and cathedral ceiling.

In the wing of the home, a short hallway separates the master bedroom from the public areas. This hallway also provides access to a laundry room and half bathroom. The master suite features a walk-in closet and ensuite with separate tub and shower. The master bedroom also has a private deck secluded between the home and garage.

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The office in the loft space.

We hope this plan has shown you more of the possibilities possible with a Real Log Home. To get started with your log home project, please contact us today.

Log Homes and the Pendulum Clock

This Sunday marks the end of daylight saving time in the United States as well as Canada. For many other countries in the northern hemisphere, summer time ended last Sunday. At this time, we set our clocks back an hour, and are reminded to check our smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries as well. We thought this would be a great time to look at pendulum clocks, which are a fixture in many log homes.

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Fancy grandfather clocks can track celestial movements as well.

Pendulum clocks were invented in 1656, and rapidly improved by 1670. These clocks made timekeeping much more accurate than in the past, reducing error from about 15 minutes a day to 15 seconds a day. As these clocks were further improved over the next century, their error fell to as little as a few seconds a week. Pendulum clocks were the most precise timekeepers until quartz clocks came about in 1927.

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A smaller, wall-mounted pendulum clock.

A larger pendulum made for a better clock, since the slower motion meant less friction and wear. The longcase clock uses a pendulum about a meter long, so each swing of the pendulum counts out exactly one second. (It was only after the 1876 song “My Grandfather’s Clock” that longcase clocks came to be known as grandfather clocks.) Longcase clocks require rewinding every 30 hours for less expensive clocks while more expensive ones had 8-day movements. However, some 30-hour clocks were designed to fool guests into thinking they were actually the more refined 8-day clocks through the use of fake mechanical details.

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Grandfather clocks are usually kept in a public space.

Pendulum clocks were handmade by craftsman through the 19th century, and were thus very expensive and viewed as a status symbol for the wealthy. As such, they would always be housed in a public area of the home like an entryway or sitting room. By around 1930, electric clocks became much more common and pendulum clocks were mostly used only for their antique value.

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Even a non-functioning pendulum clock can be a great decoration.

Today’s homes are less likely to feature dedicated clocks than just a few years ago. Since smartphones, DVRs, and microwaves all have clocks built in, it makes less sense to dedicate wall space to a clock. However, homeowners are willing to make an exception for pendulum clocks, and especially grandfather clocks. The exquisite craftsmanship of the mechanism and wood case fits perfectly with the aesthetic of a Real Log Home. And While the pendulum clock may itself be a product of the past, as long as it continues to tick off the time it will be firmly rooted in the present.

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Modern electronics make dedicated clocks less necessary, although they are still appreciated.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these images of pendulum and grandfather clocks in the log home. If you are setting the time back an hour on your pendulum clock this weekend, though, be aware that on most pendulum clocks you can only do this by instead going forward 11 hours. If you’re looking for a new log home to display your antique pendulum clock, please contact us today.