Home rustic home: Log homes promote serenity, back to nature, and green practices

2013-02-07T00:00:00Z 2013-02-07T09:35:04Z Home rustic home: Log homes promote serenity, back to nature, and green practicesEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

The mention of log homes often conjures up images of rustic, serene settings, snow covered mountains, calming lakes and other idyllic scenery in faraway places miles and miles away from any city or large town.

These days, though, log homes can really be anywhere. And home owners have the flexibility to have them built in locations that run the gamut.

States such as Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah or Tennessee may come to mind as ideal spots for log homes but locations such as Northwest Indiana, Illinois and Michigan definitely have their share of home owners gravitating to having a log house built.

"What many people are attracted to with a log home is certainly the structure or the actual building but it's also more of an associated lifestyle," said Roland Sweet, editor-in-chief of Log Home Living Magazine.

"People tend to build on a nice piece of land which seems to call for a log home. Log homes seem to go with woodsy, rural and wilderness settings," he said. They also promote a relaxed state of mind, in a sense.

Sweet said, during shows he participates in through the magazine, which are held around the country, he's seeing more consumers interested in log homes.

"Shows we attended in Atlanta and Minneapolis had very good attendance," Sweet said.

When people set out to build a log home, experts say it's often for a myriad of reasons.

It may be a pursuit of a dream, in that this is the type of home they've always wanted. It could also be for "green" reasons as log homes promote energy efficiency and environmental conservation issues on many levels.

Loretta and Gary Gettes of Crown Point became interested in log homes more than a decade ago.

Loretta Gettes said they went to buy a piece of antique furniture in DeMotte and the man who was selling it showed them a nearby log home and they were immediately struck by its appearance.

"I liked the openess of it," said Gary Gettes.

"It was a totally different house than anything else we'd seen. Log homes are so beautiful and back to nature," Loretta said.

The Gettes's had their home built in what is actually unincorporated Crown Point in 2007.

Before they decided to finally have one built, Loretta said they attended various log home shows in Milwaukee and other towns and also toured homes in the Chesterton area to get an idea of what they wanted.

The couple, who have been married for 36 years, have three grown children. The Gettes's have previously lived in Hammond, St. John and Chicago's South Side.

The builder the Gettes's went to for their log home also constructed the Northwoods Restaurant, located in St. John.

Gary and Loretta said they liked the fact they could have some flexibility in the design of their home. They chose to go with a stick-built construction in which they put half of their logs on the outside and half on the inside.

A couple of rooms in their house are partly drywall with some additional logs included, Loretta said. "But, it looks like it's built out of all logs," she said.

As Sweet explained, the old notion of log homes was always that the entire building was made of logs in a concept similar to people thinking it was just log piled atop log.

"There's a changing definition of log homes today," Sweet said. "In the old days, people would think of it as taking a solid piece of wood and stacking it on another piece of wood. But people now are considering different ways of building them," Sweet said. "It (the logs) may not be just structural but may be decorative."

Many people today, such as the Gettes's, opt for partial use of logs in their home and combining that with drywall.

"People are often deciding to choose accent logs or character logs," Sweet said, adding they may also use them in a staircase or beams.

"Purists would say that isn't a log house but for some people a log home is the way that it's built and for others, it's the way it looks," Sweet said.

The Gettes's home is 2,100 square-feet with two bedrooms, a loft upstairs and a 1 1/2 story living room. They have a pond and woods surrounding them.

 "It's a perfect setting," Loretta said, adding they see a variety of wildlife around them. Animals they've sighted include deer (once they saw "11 at one time"); coyotes, wild turkeys, possums, racoons and more.

Sandi and Alan Arendt of Hammond are currently pursuing their dream of building a log home.

About six years ago, Sandi's husband Alan was drawn by a commercial he saw on television, advertising land in Murray, Kentucky on Kentucky Lake.

"It was highly advertised during the Cubs game," Sandi Arendt said.

Their house, which was recently completed, is  situated in a picturesque rural setting, not far from a commercial area.

"We had a wish list as to what we wanted and where we wanted to end up as we got older," Arendt said. She and husband Alan definitely desired that type of environment to retire in.

"We also wanted to be in a milder climate and near water," she said.

The Arendts home also features some rooms with drywall.

"The downstairs has drywall and there's a walk out basement," Arendt said. "The downstairs has more of a feel of a traditional home."

Arendt said she loves the aroma of the wood when you enter the home and likes the concept that you are in nature.

"It's cozy and warm," she said.

Arendt's daughter Laura Boquist and her husband Andy are also in the process of building a home that's technically termed a cordwood home in Gleason, Wisconsin.

While Log Home Living's Sweet said many people choose a log home as a primary residence many more are opting for them as second homes.

"As Baby Boomers get older, they're going to log homes as their second homes," he said. Sweet said many home owners feel log homes are places "where you can really be yourself" in an unpretentious atmosphere.

"It's a blue jeans type of place," he said.

For Loretta Gettes, being in her log home is a pleasure.

"It's a fun place to live and to have people over," she said.

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