Idaho Idyl

Perched on a Sun Valley, Idaho, hillside, this custom-designed log home radiates warmth.
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Perched on a Sun Valley, Idaho, hillside, this custom-designed log home radiates warmth.
Custom log home in Idaho

It’s a bit strange that a town blanketed with at least 250 inches of snow every year is named Sun Valley. But for Gianna Daniels and Matt Morley, the impressive accumulation, not the sunshine, is a big part of this resort destination’s attraction. “We love the natural and rugged beauty of this part of central Idaho, and after vacationing here for several years, we decided that this was where we wanted to build our home,” says Matt. “When our real-estate agent showed us a hillside lot at an altitude 5,200 feet above sea level, we knew it was the place for us.”

The land they bought was ideally situated for skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing in the winter, as well as cycling and hiking during the summer. Everything they love to do would be literally right outside their front door.

From the start, Matt and Gianna had a clear vision of what they wanted: a custom design that would weave together a great room, breakfast nook, and two bedrooms on the main level, along with a spacious master suite and rec room in the daylight basement.

They hired architect Stephen Pruitt of Architecture Plus in Ketchum, Idaho, to refine their ideas. “It took a little more than a year for us to get a plan that felt right,” Gianna says. “During that time, we looked at dozens of houses built by various log producers before we chose Yellowstone Log Homes. We were impressed by their low-key, no-pressure approach and their extraordinary workmanship.”

Because they specialize in individually selected, hand-hewn logs, Yellowstone could easily accommodate Matt and Gianna’s desire for a rustic look. “Our blueprints specified 13-inch-diameter Douglas fir logs, saddle-notch corners with staggered ends, and arched interior doorways,” Matt recalls. Although Yellowstone offers in-house design, chief of sales and marketing Scott Youngstrom says that, like Matt and Gianna’s house, many of the homes they build are from the customer’s own blueprints.

Matt, who worked as his own general contractor, broke ground in April. After pre-assembly in Yellowstone’s Rigby, Idaho, logyard, the logs for the 3,200-square-foot home were numbered, labeled, and shipped to the couple’s site in July. “In addition to our standard handcrafted package, we supplied log beams for the lower-level ceiling and interior character posts to support the roof in the open plan’s main floor,” recalls Scott. “We also sent an expert logsmith to oversee the shell’s assembly.”

The house was ready to move into by Christmas, even though it took a few more months to complete the interior and add landscaping. Matt did most of the finishing work himself. He feels the decision to use drywall instead of wood paneling for the ceilings was a wise one.

“We didn’t want to draw attention away from the logs,” Gianna explains. “Each one is a natural work of art.”

Matt feels that the whole experience was so rewarding that he’d not only recommend others build a handcrafted log home, but he and Gianna would do it again in a minute. “We were amazed that we could get a handcrafted home that didn’t cost much more than a mass-produced house. We’re planning to build another vacation home on a larger lot in Colorado in a year or two,” says Matt. “I guess you could say we just can’t get enough snow.” Or enough logs.