The Log Home Plan For a Traditional Pioneer Look
The traditional log home plan originated in north Europe during the Bronze Age (about 3500 B.C.E.). When European settlers arrived in America there was already a millennial old tradition of using logs for homes, barns and other structures in the Scandinavian countries as well as Russia and Germany. These regions had large forests of softwood trees which could easily be crafted with hand tools. Log homes were built of logs stacked horizontally and notched on the ends so the walls interlocked. When the Swedes and Finns arrived in New Sweden (the Philadelphia region) they imported their knowledge of log construction with them, as did later settlers from Germany. Settlers from the British Isles had no such tradition of log building but they soon learned the technique since log building was so convenient in eastern America. There were abundant softwood forests at hand, and other building materials including nails and spikes were unavailable, expensive, or difficult to transport. Moreover, log homes are easy to build: a man working alone could build a cabin in a few weeks. Using skids of logs leaning against the wall as inclined planes, it is possible to lift logs with ropes to construct even a two story log home.
However, usually a log home floor plan consisted of a single room, perhaps twelve to sixteen feet square. There would be one door, but in most cases no windows. When windows did exist they were covered with translucent greased animal skins rather than glass. Fireplaces were built of stone or clay and the chimneys of wattle. Because this is not a very fire-safe mode of construction, stone or brick were used where obtainable. The fireplaces furnished warmth and light as well as a cooking area. The interior walls of the log home were chinked with cloth or clay; and the floors were simple tamped earth (although some log homes had a puncheon floor, made of split logs laid flat side up). Higher designs had lofts which were used as sleeping and storage areas. Roofing depended upon what material was available, but often cedar shingle roofs made with hand split shingles were laid over two-by-four rafters.
Modern versions of log home floor plans share many of the advantages of bungalow style house plans in the sense of being an economical option for simple, country-style living. Modern log homes are built from milled logs which are manufactured usually in northern or Eastern Europe. These milled logs are squared and pre-cut for ease of assembly. Log homes are a popular option in rural areas, especially in the western states, where log homes over 3000 square feet in area are common. The style became popular during the Great Depression of the nineteen thirties when the Civilian Conservation Corps built thousands of log cabins in national parks throughout the U.S.; and many park visitors saw these buildings and adopted the style for their own homes. The largest log cabin in the world was built in 1930 in Montebello, QC Canada: the Chateau Montebello Hotel. In Europe log homes are frequently built as summerhouses in gardens, or else as home offices or guesthouse accommodations.
The log home floor plan symbolizes much of what America represents: sturdy, rough shelters designed for a simple, hardy, self-sufficient life. Like bungalow style house plans designed for simple country living, the log home plan is a great option for an economical, environmentally-friendly lifestyle.