Story by Suzanna Logan | Photography by Allen Mowery | On the Rocks is reprinted with permission from Log Home Living magazine
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On the Rocks: For most, saying your home-building journey began on rocky ground wouldn’t be a good thing, but for Kim and Al Kortze, it was the perfect start to their log home story.
After falling in love with log cabins at a home show, the couple had been combing Pennsylvania’s landscape for years in search of the perfect spot to build a weekend getaway that would eventually serve as a forever home. “We weren’t going to put the house on just any lot,” explains Al. “Kim wanted to be near the water, and I liked being in the mountains and woods.” Then, while enjoying a weekend away in the Poconos Mountains, they happened upon a “lot for sale” sign. Following the sign (and their intuition), they discovered the property hit every mark on their wish list. “It was on the water, hilly, with lots of trees,” says Al. And, one more thing: There were rocks. Loads of them. “I think that had scared people away from the property,” explains Kim. “It had been sitting there for years.” But Al, an engineer by trade, wasn’t fazed. “We knew we had a challenge in front of us, but it was exactly what we were looking for,” Al says. The couple was later told by their excavator, who uncovered boulder upon boulder on the property, that it was the most “difficult” site he had ever worked on. Having finally found the land, the couple spent the next five years paying off the property loan while perfecting their cabin’s design.
The three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath floor plan included a walk-out basement (a must for Al’s woodworking shop), a roomy kitchen, a master suite and laundry on the main level, a loft workspace and, of course, show-stopping views of the lake and woods that had sold them on the site in the first place.
With their plans in hand and a lot of log home manufacturer research in their back pocket, the couple approached Timberhaven Log and Timber Homes. What initially drew Al to the locally based company was the choice between traditional or laminated white pine logs. “They’re essentially white pine boards that are laminated together then milled into whatever shape you want,” Al says of the engineered-log
system. “You don’t have as many worries about shrinking, warping or checking.” What made Al ultimately stay with the company, though, was the support and honesty he found in their sales representative, Bob Romano.
“When we first showed him the plans, he said: “What you have right now is an ‘okay room,’ but I wouldn’t call it a ‘great room,’” recalls Al, laughing. Working alongside Bob, the couple boosted the square footage of the main living area and, as a result, the wow factor of the two-story fireplace and the beam-and-purlin roof system. “It really made those elements stand out,” says Bob.
Other eye-catching features in the couple’s favorite gathering spot include the vaulted ceiling and wall of glass that look towards the lake views below. “The home has a rustic feel, but with all of the glass and the cathedral ceiling, it has a contemporary flair, as well,” says Bob.
With a decade of searching, designing, excavating and building behind them, the couple now has time to enjoy that rustic-contemporary vibe and the water and woods that hooked them on the rocky plot. “We go hiking and kayaking on the lake. We make it our time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life,” Kim says. Al adds: “The minute I get here, I can feel my blood pressure drop. It’s like we’re on vacation every weekend.”