Just joining the journey? To read more about the Olsens’ timber-home build, as well as their initial design process, click here.

Taking a risk with mixed materials pays off in the Olsens’ New York retreat.

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It’s no secret that one of the biggest benefits of building a timber home is you can make it look any way you want, from the outside in. But like all aspects of custom-home building, this freedom to choose absolutely any combination of materials and finishes can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately for Greg Olsen and his wife Dee, knowing who to turn to for help wasn’t an issue.

Photo8“Just like the rest of the project, choosing the finishes for the house was really a team effort with the timber company, our interior designer and our general contractors,” explains Greg.

And although the Olsens didn’t come to the table with a clear idea for the look of their finished home, the final result was, in the end, a natural choice — literally.

“Every design decision we made was based off a previous decision,” says Greg. “When we chose to go with a red-hued reclaimed Douglas fir frame and dark walnut floors, we knew we wanted to combine those with lighter, more modern cabinets. We chose to mix instead of match, and all of the choices look really great together.”

It’s that mix of materials that gives the house (that does have an undeniably luxurious feel) a striking yet modest tone — an intentional design decision made by the Olsens.

“The house is surrounded by these unbelievable 50-mile views of the Berkshires. We wanted the home to work with that view and frame it. We didn’t want the house to feel like it was calling attention to itself and away from the setting.”

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To achieve the desired feel for the house, Greg and Dee continued their use of reclaimed materials in the form of interior walls, floors and timbers. Clever design ideas like flipping the barnwood used on the outside of the house and using it for the walls in the entry, rec room and master bedroom add subtle charm to the space.

Photo4More practical implementations like the higher countertop heights (created to ease the occasional neck pain that plagues Greg) are smart design details that will make the house comfortable now and in the future.

“Those countertops will be lifesavers for me,” says Greg. “Not to mention they also face the view, so I can take it all in when I’m prepping dinner.”

While the overall aesthetic of the house was something the Olsens decided on after they got started with New Energy Works timberframers and their team, one thing they knew they wanted from the start was an environmentally conscious house.

The field of solar panels installed by Hudson Solar creates a total system for the home, meaning the house relies on no outside power, explains Greg.

“It would’ve been cheaper initially to use propane as the primary heating source and running the entire house off of electricity supplied from standard power lines, but the solar panels combined with the geothermal system is so much more environmentally friendly. Plus, we can’t wait to sell power back to the electric company!”

At almost a year into the build, seeing the finishing touches come together in their future home only adds to the Olsens’ unfailing positivity and excitement for move-in day.

“We can now say that every element, right down to the details, is turning out better than we could’ve imagined,” says Greg. “The house has this really good karma about it. Not too big, not too small, and everything just right.”


Keep up with the Olsens throughout their entire log home building journey – click here for more stories!