Did you know that seven past presidents of the USA, including Abraham Lincoln, were either born or raised in a log cabin? It perhaps comes as no surprise, then, that these structures have become iconic symbols of settlement-era America and the values that underpinned it: hard work, humility and integrity.
Although still distinctive for its authenticity – with handcrafted exteriors and cosy light emanating from within – log home living has come a long way since the days of the Old West.
Combining the past and the future
Though first introduced to the United States in the 1600s by Swedish settlers, log cabins became more widespread when they served as simple shelters on the American frontier. As these humble homes were often built by just one or two men, they were rarely more than six to eight logs high and consisted of one room. No nails were used during construction as the wood was ‘notched’ together.
Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, log home living spread slowly outwards, with cabins gaining in rooms, height and grandeur as their popularity grew. In 1862, the Homestead Act dictated that log homes were required to feature a glass window and be at least 10 by 12 feet.
Nowadays, these structures fuse the traditional with the contemporary: modern homes use high-quality, pre-cut and pre-drilled timber. Verandahs and porches help rustic living feel even more spacious.
But while this type of American architecture may have evolved, log homes still allow us to enjoy a sojourn back to basics while providing a number of comforting modern additions: from internet access and hot tubs to stylish stone flooring.
Log home living: a nature lover’s paradise
Luxury log homes bring a touch of the wilderness indoors. The traditional setting is deep in the forest, calling to mind a simpler time away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
As well as looking the part, log homes are also eco-friendly. During the days of the earliest American settlements, they were built from the very timber removed from the area – a sustainable approach that remains intact today. According to a study conducted by Yale University, using wood from well-managed forests for construction rather than steel reduces fossil fuel consumption as well as carbon dioxide emissions.
To optimise the environmental efficiency of a luxury log home, consider installing solar panels. In addition, choose wood such as Western Red Cedar, a natural insulator.
Beloved by celebrities
Perhaps the best demonstration of how far log home living has come is that it’s the architectural and contemporary lifestyle choice of the celebrity elite. We can’t pinpoint exactly what attracted Tom Cruise to his former $59 million luxury log home in Colorado, but we’d hazard a guess at the pristine alpine views, bleached cinder frames and large windows flooding cosy rooms with light every morning.
And Cruise isn’t the only one to have fallen for the allure of luxury log homes. Designer Ralph Lauren owns a 16,000-acre ranch in Colorado, which includes a main lodge as well as five sprawling guesthouses.
The specifics may have changed, but the humble legacy of the classic log cabin remains unshakeable. To find your very own slice of rustic American architecture, browse Engel & Völkers’ range of log homes in the USA and Canada.