No question, things have changed over the years regards to log homes. In the early days of Park City, the miners built log homes (and it would be quite a stretch to call them “homes” by today’s standards) out of necessity, as there were few options to plane the wood from the raw logs they could easily harvest from the surrounding hillsides. Then, in the earlier days of Deer Valley and The Colony (those two areas in particular), log represented the essence of the West, and a log or timber home, with contrasting white chinking, was the pinnacle of mountain architecture and style. In today’s Park City/Deer Valley real estate market, log is out of vogue and log homes languish on the market. So, what sealed the death of Log Homes?
Based on my conversations with clients, there are two key reasons. First, when folks first purchased a mountain property back in the 70’s, 80’s, and early ‘90’s, be it their primary residence or a vacation home, they wanted differentiation form what they lived in back home. And, at the time “Log” and “Mountain” were for the most part synonymous. Today, they really want more “contemporary in the mountains” as one of my clients put it.
Second, most people (and not just the reals estate junkies like my wife and me), follow just about every architecture and design website on the internet, in addition to all the abundant design related Apps. In America at least, you are pressed to find even one blog, post, article, or photo, of a log or timber home – everything is more “contemporary.” The natural tendency is to adopt the current thinking and apply that thinking to a home in the mountains as well.
Will we ever see a reversal? In my mind the answer is yes. I just finished taking a close look at the photography and property descriptions in Living in Style Mountain Chalets. From Kitzbuhel, to Chamonix, to St. Moritz, to Park City, the “iconic” mountain homes, which were the focus of the book, were all about the timber, wood, and other natural elements – what we would have considered to be mountain architecture just decade or so ago.
You can tell we have spent a good bit of time thinking about this question. In future posts, we’ll address what we think may turn things around – on a log home by log home basis at least.