top of page

How to Artistically Mix Logs and Timbers

Updated: Jul 8

You are about to learn three ways to mix logs with timber framing construction. This will open a plethora of timber style possibilities which may be the exact touch you’re looking for. I’d like to introduce you to a hybrid log and timber style which has many advantages over a traditional stacked log cabin.

While I advocate using logs as structural members, I would never want to own a stacked log cabin. One reason is the pain-in-the rear settling issues.

Now that we’ve introduced your topic with a short and catchy title, it’s time to write your introductory paragraph. This is your chance to grab your reader’s attention. You can explain why you are the best person to give advice on this topic; share a personal story that reflects your own experience on the subject; and/or highlight common mistakes that can be avoided once applying your useful tips.

Before listing your tips below, add one last sentence that sums up your paragraph or offers a smooth transition to your listicle.

The Pitfalls of Stacked Log Cabins

You can expect an 8-foot-tall log wall to settle 3 to 6 inches during the five-year curing and drying process, and then you must deal with expansion in the winter and shrinking in the summer.

This means special stairway solutions, wall connections, ceiling trim, and adjustable screw jacks for bearing posts.

Also, a log cabin package is roughly $100 per square foot, while a full timber package costs around $50 per square foot. Mostly, though, stacked log cabins lack the long-term appeal of custom crafted timber frame homes.

A log cabin is a log cabin is a log cabin – In other words, the rustic factor is dialed up to the top.

Any personal touches or design decisions have very little impact on the overall feel. Whether it is tall or wide, big or small, visitors are left with the impression that it is a log cabin. Many people tire of the extremely rustic décor, leaving them without the long-term satisfaction they envisioned.

Using Logs to Your Advantage

So, if you are looking to add logs to your timber frame, but want to avoid the pitfalls of stacked log construction, you may ask:

How many logs should I use? To answer that question, be aware of these two things:

  1. How to add the perfect number of logs in a way that makes logical sense – for aesthetics, for nature, and for building.

  2. How to transition to other areas in your home. This could be an abrupt or a gradual change, using accents such as lighting blocks, ceiling beams, wainscoting with log newel posts, chair rails, or other trim options.

Excellent Example of Logs & Timbers

Not only did Arrow help reinforce sagging logs with large quality beams, but a post and beam addition of a master bed/bath was created. Extra work was done to rebuild some of the log features, and even the staircase to the upper outlook room was fixed as a free extra from Arrow.

This is a wonderful example of restoring and updating a historic building, and it is now a gorgeous location that the owners are very happy with.

Believe it or not, you can use logs for the whole timber structure without falling into the log cabin trap. You will still get a fun and unique atmosphere. As always, you want to make sure to enjoy your planning and building process. Here are three basic ways with which you can have fun enhancing your timber frame using log elements!.

Three Ways You Can Mix Raw Nature into Your Timber Decor

1. Massive Forest

Think oversized logs for main beams and support posts. One option is to use logs harvested by cutting them below ground level. This will allow your posts to look as if they are growing out of your floor, as the base of the roots will show! Many people have utilized logs cut this way, especially for a tall center post which carries a ridge beam. You can just about visualize the actual tree. Another twist is to build a stairway which twists around the trunk!

In general, the rest of your home should have bigger rustic elements, such as those found in nature. For example, try to incorporate large stones, heavy hardware, and solid looking doors and windows, while avoiding anything light and airy.

2. Unpredictable Shapes in Nature

Have you ever found yourself looking at a piece of wood or a log and wondering how you could incorporate such a cool item into your home? This is the essence of this category. At ATF, we have been given unique pieces to use, and we have also hiked the forest looking for a log with a size, shape, or bend to incorporate as unique structural element.

Examples you may find interesting:

Staircase: Modify your rails, newel posts and spindles. From woven branches to heavy gnarled trunks, stair rails give you a flexible place to use the unique piece of wood you stumbled across. Figure out different places it may work well and modify your theme and design accordingly.

Mantels, Shelves, and Art Frames: These are all very flexible just like the staircase elements. They will have a slightly muted impact and are quite easy to change out as they are smaller accents and not as integrated into the structure.

Structural Members Custom Grown or Grown-To-Fit: Builders of old would harvest trees according to the crooks and angles required. You can use this concept to a greater or lesser degree for your unique timber atmosphere. The early Cruck-Frame is a perfect example of using nature-provided arches in a timber frame. Another example is using a fork in a tree as a post which supports two beams. You can even find trees bent enough to be the post and the roof beam all in one!

3. Pleasant Surprise

This category captures those designs of nature used in building which are somewhat subtle surprises which sometimes border on whimsical. Even though they are subtle, they do not have to be small in scale. For example, many have used trees and logs as the vertical structural posts between the windows and a tall exterior grade room wall. The logs can then be cut with a deep groove, or dado, to fit the window glass so no trim around the windows is required! This creates an enchanting view like looking between trees in the forest!

Another example is the Japanese Taiko beam, which honors the trees the timbers were made from. Taiko is the Japanese word for a naturally curved timber.

This is a noticeable element yet blends with the frame and requires no modification of the interior design to achieve harmony.

Many of the ideas mentioned in the previous categories could be scaled back to achieve the pleasant subtle surprise we are talking about.

Hybrid Timber Framing Gives You Freedom

There you have it. Now you can have some fun thinking about even more things you can do to personalize your timber living structure! Your possibilities are endless!

The first thing you will want to do is kick-start your timber living acquisition process. Have you ever experienced the galvanizing effect that investing towards a goal has? It has helped me to learn foreign languages, complete a business plan, exercise, and in countless other ways. I’m sure you have used this effect to achieve many things in your life also.

So, if you are certain you want a dynamic timber atmosphere someday, I encourage you to invest in your future and start with a brainstorming session.

Learn More about Timber Framing | Get in touch to discuss your project | See our Work

To your momentum and success,

Bert Sarkkinen


bottom of page