Log homes come in a wide variety of styles, many of them vernacular, or particular to their region. Vernacular styles are those that evolved in given locations due to traditions in building, available materials, climate and other factors. Learning about vernacular architecture can help you decide what style of home to build. You don’t have to follow the traditions of your area, but it can be helpful to understand why log homes look different in different parts of the country.
American log home styles can be roughly divided into Eastern and Western. Eastern styles include Appalachian, Adirondack and Early American. Appalachian log houses are typically mountain cabins found in the Southern and Southeastern United States. Adirondack houses are the type found in the upstate New York mountains. And Early American homes, found all over the East Coast, evoke the colonial era.
Appalachian style homes offer a connection to the outdoor landscape. They usually have long, covered porches. Some are built around dogtrots, where two smaller log buildings are connected by a roof with an open space, or a “dogtrot,” in between.
Adirondack style homes look like wealthy camp cabins. The original Adirondack cabins were opulent and grand, emphasizing the use of natural materials. The handcrafted logs used to build them are round with intersecting corners. Sometimes, small logs, twigs and branches are used as pillars, railings and mantelpieces. Adirondack homes usually have porches, either open or screened, and gable roofs with dormers. Many original Adirondack houses were built in the Arts and Crafts style, with heavy, squared off doorways and banisters.
Early American style homes were quaint and rustic, usually featuring square logs with light chinking showing in between. Often, new Early American-style log homes are made from salvaged logs from old cabins or barns. These homes tend to be boxy in shape and simple in design. The homes are small and have rooflines of simple dormers or plain eaves. Roofs are wood-shingle or metal, and windows have rectangular grids dividing them into small panes. Old, salvaged doors and hardware can be used to complete the look of an Early American-style log home.
Western style is what most people envision as the typical log home. The three main types, which are the ranch house, mountain house and Southwestern-style house.
The ranch house is similar to what the Western pioneers built, made of stacked round logs with dovetail notches to connect them. Ranch style log houses are rugged and basic, and they can hold a crowd. Usually, they are single-story homes with long roofs and horizontal lines, making them well suited to flat land. The homes are large, welcoming and communal, usually featuring wraparound porches.
Mountain-style homes in the West are made from huge, handcrafted logs similar to those of the Adirondack style. They tend to look like Alpine hunting lodges, with steep, heavy roofs and shallow porches. Usually, there are many large windows, often grouped together, to maximize the mountain views.
Southwestern log homes are typically built with log beams and adobe. The roofs are made of ceramic tiles, either flat or shallowly pitched. Most Southwestern-style homes show heavy Spanish influence, with wrought iron railings, carved doors and central courtyard spaces.
Finally, Mission or Arts and Crafts style, popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright, appears in both Eastern and Western log homes. Square logs and tall, narrow windows characterize this style. Asian motifs, natural materials and hand-made hardware are important to this style of home.