3,600-square-foot log home in the Okanagan Valley takes full advantage of its forested life.

By Lindsay Silcocks

After spending several years searching for a potential building site throughout the Okanagan Valley, Dave and Deanna DiPaolo finally discovered an ideal property. They fell in love with a 12-acre forested lot, conveniently situated close to the city (six km east of Kelowna), yet still on the outskirts so they could enjoy the serenity of the surrounding forest and picturesque scenery.

“We walked the property several times,” says Deanna. “Back then it was just a large acreage with nothing but towering trees. The expansive views attracted us to the lot, plus the convenience of the proximity to Kelowna.”
Determining what style of home to settle on happened relatively quickly.

“Choosing a log home seemed to fit perfectly into the landscape, given that we were surrounded on all sides by miles and miles of mature forest,” says Dave. “We looked at different designs and began by determining the square footage that would best suit the size of home we wanted. After choosing a design, we made changes to a few things, like the location of the doors and windows. Plans are just a rough guideline to get you started, leading you to whatever you can imagine.”

The DiPaolos credit their builder, John Morgan of Northstar Log and Timber Frame, with making it a positive building experience.

“The process was easy,” says Dave. “You hear how building a house might result in arguments or problems along the way, but this wasn’t the case for us. John is one of those builders who we could ask to add or change something and nothing was a problem.”

Northstar Log and Timber Frame handles the contracting end of the business, while Northern Log Homes (started by John’s father Al in 1952), handles the manufacturing end. John’s sister Julie is the draftsperson for the Northern Log Homes. “There has been an evolution of log homes over the years,” says John Morgan. “With our family element, we feel there is a particular flair to the homes we design and build.”

In 1988, Northern Log Homes expanded globally, building log homes all over the world including the United States, Mexico, Ireland and Chile. “Log home building continues to be on the rise, including here in the Okanagan Valley,” says Morgan.

“The attraction to choosing a log home is that the interior has a homey or cosy atmosphere, but at the same time, can incorporate modern interior elements,” says Morgan. “That’s why most of our customers choose a log home versus a typical wood-frame house.”

He says that when a customer is considering the design of a log home, the first step is to decide whether to use machine-peeled logs or hand-peeled logs. “Most of our customers prefer machine logs because there is less maintenance involved, and it is more cost-effective,” says Morgan. “However, the logs aren’t quite as rustic looking as the hand-peeled variety. It’s really up to our customers’ personal choice.”

Dave and Deanna moved into their dream home in 2004, marking the occasion by branding the year into one of the living room beams. The 3,600-square-foot pan abode log home, constructed with B.C. spruce and pine machine-peeled logs, includes a garage and in-law suite. The wrap-around porch takes full advantage of the forested landscape, encompassing views from virtually every room of the house.

When it came time to work on the interior of the home, “we wanted to try and keep a more rustic feel, so we opted for fir floors throughout the home instead of carpeting,” Dave says. “When we were ready to put the flooring down, the trades suggested to us that we wait until more of the interior was finished so the new floor wouldn’t get damaged. But that’s the look we wanted, to have a more weathered look to tie in with the style of the home,” he says.

The interior furnishings of the home are reminiscent of a western flavour, reminding Dave of his childhood in Alberta. “We’ve enjoyed hunting for western-style pieces to add to our collection. It adds a bit of character,” says Deanna.

The rustic theme continues throughout the main living area, including a large implement wheel suspended high above the dining room table for overhead lighting. “In the kitchen,” says Deanna, “we were looking to continue the open floor plan, with the kitchen being open to the rest of the main floor. When we are entertaining, I like to see what’s going on in the living and dining rooms. Plus, I enjoy having our company be part of the dinner preparations, so we pull up the tractor-seat stools to the kitchen island and everyone can join in.”

The pantry area “was built with heavy-duty shelving because we like to have plenty of supplies on hand, since the corner store is not just down the road,” says Deanna.

When it came time to design the main-floor bathroom, Dave and Deanna chose a corner neo-angle shower, providing the room with a more open atmosphere. Tile flooring was installed instead of wood to give more variation.

The second-floor loft, overlooking the living room, includes a functional home office space for Deanna. On the same level is Dave and Deanna’s master bedroom, complete with ensuite and soaker tub. Just a few steps away from the bedroom is a private balcony, where the couple enjoys their morning coffee, never tiring of the views of Little Mountain.

After three years of living in their dream home, the DiPaolos say they wouldn’t have done anything differently. “Dave had all the vision. I couldn’t visualize back then how we would get to this point or what the house would look like upon completion,” Deanna says. The DiPaolos hope their new neighbours, (the deer, moose, and occasional bear), don’t mind sharing a piece of this scenic and tranquil land.

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