Retirement Home: This One's for You

The concept of "home" evolves with age. For the young, it is the starter home that may be updated and improved upon. As careers and families progress, so do the homes they occupy. 

Homes at this stage may contain more space to accommodate children, and some amenities to reflect the owners' lifestyles, but are still defined by resources that must be divided between the need to have a suitable place to live and also save for the future. In the past, many of these were meant to be terminal homes. But now a new type of home and homeowner is emerging. People are living longer and healthier lives, and when they've outgrown the "family" home they are building homes which better meet their needs and wants.

Stan and Suzanne Martin are such a couple. After their family was raised, they wanted a home just for the two of them. Suzanne says, "We realized that the home we had lived in for many years was really not where we wanted to be when we retired. We didn't intend to leave the area, but we wanted a home that was just ours -- for the way we are now, not the way we were 20 years ago."

The Martins set out to define what they wanted: The type and location of the lot; the style of the home; the number of rooms and their uses based on their needs and interests; and the amenities they had previously done without. Since they are both nature lovers, the lot needed to have trees and preferably a view of water. They both had always wanted to live in a log home, and agreed that now was their chance.

Stan and Suzanne found a lot just outside the town where they had raised their family. It had the trees and water they both were looking for, but was still close to the services of the city. They had their dream lot; now they needed their dream home.

Log homes to them were an extension of living close to the outdoors, which said "relaxation" to them in a way conventional homes did not. After a lot of research, the Martins selected Wisconsin Log Homes to design and manufacture the home for them.

One selling point was the fact that Wisconsin Log Homes originated the energy-efficient half-log building system, in which the exterior log of their choice would be applied over a 2-inch by 6-inch wall filled with six inches of fiberglass insulation. This innovative concept would both conserve energy costs and help preserve the surroundings they had chosen for their new home. Also helpful was the 144-page planning guide put together by the company. The combination of home plans, building information and photos of existing Wisconsin Log Homes was just what they needed to get started.

With the lot and home style defined, they were now ready to design their dream home. "I can't emphasize enough how important this part of the process was for us," says Stan. "Having experienced designers walk us through the planning stage resulted in a home which functions just exactly the way we want it to."

The people at Wisconsin Log Home suggested that the Martins look at how they spend their time now that they are retired. They found they both enjoy time together over coffee in the morning, and so a sunroom off the kitchen overlooking their flower garden was planned. They love to cook and entertain friends, so an open concept kitchen/dining room was designed to allow interaction between them and their guests. They also knew that they both needed spaces to call their own, and so a media room for Stan's movies and a craft room for Suzanne's hobby came about. Occasionally they have overnight visitors, resulting in a loft area with a separate bedroom and bath. They had both always wanted a much larger master bedroom so a master bedroom suite with a master bath and plenty of closet space was added.

"Then came the fun part," says Suzanne. "We added the extra-special touches we simply couldn't afford when we were raising our family." The finishing touches in the home included upscale appliances in the kitchen, large floor-to-ceiling windows in the great room to let in their beautiful view, log interiors in the great room and master bedroom to add warmth and coziness to their home, hardwood floors in appropriate areas, a stunning log staircase leading to the loft, a double whirlpool tub in the master bath, and glass doors leading to a deck off the master bedroom.

Companies like Wisconsin Log Homes see more and more people, like the Martins, who may have had to compromise on previous homes, but decide this one is for them and they are finally going to do it right. Retirement is not the end for these folks, but a wonderful new beginning.

More information about designing and building log homes can be found at Wisconsin Log Homes' Web site, www.wisconsinloghomes.com., by e-mail at info@wisconsinloghomes.com, or by calling (800) 678-9107.

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