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A Home with Plenty of Space to Smile

Family togetherness and a breezy coastal vibe lie at the heart of this fresh Wisconsin forever home.

Written by Karen Marley

Photography by KCJ Studios


What does your happy place look like? For homeowners, Mark and Mary, happiness is built with wood, stone and glass, along with a dose of designer know-how.

Bright and breezy, their self-described coastal-European-cottage style home, constructed by Wisconsin Log Homes (WLH), makes them smile each day. Filled with voluminous ceilings, ample windows and timber beam accents, the idyllic retreat harmonizes fresh and peaceful feelings against a backdrop of shades of white, cream and bone; subtle textures; and stylish details.

It started with a whim. When a lot came up for sale next to Mark and Mary’s daughter and family, they grabbed it. The property is part of a suburban development organized around an engineered lake and adjacent to a wildlife preserve. Their daughter and son-in-law, Stephanie and Nate Janczak, own the nationwide Wisconsin Log Homes company, and also built and live in a WLH home. Mark and Mary have always been drawn to the warmth and rustic feeling their homes bring, and especially fell in love with Nate and Stephanie’s home.

Instead of a timber frame’s traditional employment of natural wood tones, Mary and Mark wanted a bright, happy interpretation of WLH’s 5,234 square-foot “Summerlin” floor plan. For Mary, that happy feeling also meant removing herself from the design details. “I didn’t want to make any decisions and deal with the stress of what to pick,” Mary says.

Her dream-home list was short: a design that looked like something straight from Martha’s Vineyard; an entertaining area that could comfortably fit 25 to 30 people; an open-concept great room and, of course, space for grandkids. It also needed to look lived-in, as if it were full of history and stories. Summerlin’s reverse-two-story floor plan made the perfect active-empty-nester choice. The upstairs provides first-floor living space and a primary bedroom suite. Downstairs, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a shared space accommodates grandchildren and guests.

First impressions say a lot. From the street, the home’s crisp, white siding with a wood grain appearance is softened with over-grouted “Old World” stone in natural shapes and neutral tones. Its calming contrast hints of what’s to come. 

Slip across the threshold through 8-foot double-entry doors defined by their modern lines, large windows and dark espresso color.

Waiting on the other side of that door is an open space awash in brilliant whites, earthy textures and neutral contrasts. It radiates an elegant, relaxed attitude with spaces that are as functional as they are stylish.

Shiplap walls and massive post-and-beam style timbers are covered in soft, white paint that allows the wood’s character to reveal itself. Even the ceiling is white throughout the house. It’s a clean look where the textures do most of the talking.

Glass panels define and enclose the staircase, where a whimsical painting of sailboats adds a burst of vibrant color to the otherwise neutral color palette, infusing the space with an outdoorsy sense of salty air. Anchoring the dining room zone is a massive wood dining table. Rope details on the chandelier continue the coastal vibe. Underfoot, an engineered European oak floor stretches across the expansive space. Mimicking the exterior stone set against white, a central fireplace and two pillars flanking the dining and sunroom transition showcase the same natural contrast.

The kitchen flows around an enormous 4-by-12-foot island. Overhead, large black shop lights provide a simple and functional design element. The kitchen also features a serving area for steaming crockpots and platters of goodies.

The island, dining table and other architectural elements are scaled to fit the voluminous space. Ceilings soar 10 feet in the great room, 12 feet in the dining room, and 14 feet with a cathedral style pitch in the sunroom, which works with the screened-in porch to create a true indoor-outdoor environment. Textural impact shows up once again in the deconstructed furniture made of wood, burlap and linen. “It brings a lot of natural character into the space,” Stephanie says.

Other details across the house confirm the coastal Euro-cottage design mantra. In the powder room, white rustic textures are expressed in a rugged brick wall. Oil-stained accent beams, despite being new, appear to be full of history. Two live-edge, built-in benches, handcrafted by WLH, provide essential seating areas off the foyer and in the mudroom. The spa-like primary bathroom radiates modernity with its silky-smooth tiles and glossy surfaces.

Mary and Mark aren’t the only ones living a happy life around their home. They finish each day, watching the gorgeous sunsets while listening to ducks, geese, and eagles. From the sounds of it, humans and birds alike are living their best lives. 

Home Details

Square Footage: 5,234

Bedrooms: 4

Baths: 3.5

Designer/builder: Wisconsin Log Homes


See Also: A Bright Timber Home on Martha's Vineyard

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