Old World Elegance and Rustic Sophistication

When beginning the process of designing and building a new home, many homeowners know exactly what they want. Debbie Seelye is no exception, but when designing and building her gorgeous 5,200-square-foot log home near Kalamazoo, Michigan, she also knew what she did not want.

During many summers, Seelye and her family vacationed in the Lake Tahoe area, and it was there that she first became enamored with mountainside log cabins – and began thinking about the possibility of one day having her own log home. When Seelye did decide to build her home, rather than recreate the Western, mountain aesthetic of the cabins that had enchanted her in Lake Tahoe, Seelye instead wanted to create a home that is distinctly Michigan and distinctly “her.”

To realize her vision, Seelye worked with Town + Country Cedar Homes. Seelye, who is a self-proclaimed planner and perfectionist, went through intensive research, considering every aspect of design, functionality, aesthetics, and, of course, how the house would be used. Rather than a passive consumer, Seelye was a member of the design team herself, overseeing the myriad moving design elements that comprise the whole. The end result of this collaboration is what Seelye calls her “ideal house” and her “sanctuary.” It is a masterpiece in the art of attention to detail: from the façade to the tiniest trinket, every element of the home is deliberately and artfully crafted to reflect the homeowner’s style, personality and interests.

The custom built home is situated on close to 300 acres of land, perfect for Seelye’s main interest: showing and training horses, as well as training equestrians. On her property are paddocks, stables and other facilities for caring for horses. The landscape itself is beautiful, something that also attracted Seelye to the site. When designing the home, she opted for Cedar decks that wrap around the home, ensuring full views of the landscape.

The house is constructed of Northern White Cedar heartwood logs that are sawn on all four sides and then re-rounded by hand on the exterior with a drawknife. This gives the logs a more natural, irregularly circular appearance, avoiding the “telephone pole” look that can sometimes happen with log homes. Visitors are greeted by an impressive entryway, where a gabled porch blends with angled rooflines for a dramatic but still warm and inviting first impression.

Inside, the great room, kitchen, and breakfast nook flow contiguously into one another, creating a majestic open space under a cathedral ceiling whose imposing height is made more intimate and cozy by full-scribe log trusses that “shorten” the height of the room. Above a large stone fireplace in the great room, clerestory windows create an ambient, comfortable glow rather than flooding the space with light.

Each room is decorated with old world-style, reproduction antiques, including reproductions of William Morris rugs. Throughout the home, ironwork and woodwork contrast perfectly, and accents of lush leather, cherry wood and warm light from the many fine-arts lamps add texture and interest. With the exception of the formal living room, which is used only for entertaining, the style is “rustic elegant,” casual and comfortable but with an unmistakable nod to a more formal era. Perhaps most impressively, Seelye says that she knew exactly what she wanted in each room – and where – before she moved in and made sure that everything was acquired beforehand.

While surely everything in the home has Seelye’s signature, two elements are especially remarkable and were designed exclusively by her and implemented by Town + Country. First, her stairway post is a piece of timber, harvested from one of Town + Country’s facilities, that still has part of the bottom intact, creating the appearance of a living tree inside the home. Secondly, the inlay patterns on the walls – an intricately beautiful, horizontal tongue-and-groove pattern – was not only designed by Seelye but has become a part of Town + Country’s design portfolio – the Seelye Pattern.

To see the unmatched craftsmanship up close and to take a tour of the Seelye home, download the PDF.

  • I have more questions and concerns about getting an oil-change than I do about this project.

    ~ Tom H.