There’s something particularly idyllic about celebrating Christmastime in a snow-covered log home in Vermont.
“Our house and property are great all year long, but it’s extra special in the winter — especially during Christmas,” says owner Rich Conte, who built the home four years ago with his wife, Teri. “We love being outdoors, and we especially love winter sports like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skating or playing hockey on a frozen pond. And we have all of that just steps outside our back door.”
Being outdoors and feeling far away from the crowds, traffic and business meetings that consume their weekday lives were the primary goals in early 2013, when the Contes began their search for a weekend retreat. They’d owned vacation homes in the past and knew the features, landscape and driving distance that would fit their needs best.
“Nothing we saw made the cut,” Teri says about the search that eventually led them to build their own home with full-log walls. “Every house we looked at needed major renovations, didn’t have the type of property we wanted or the land wasn’t big enough.”
Then they found two parcels near the Okemo Mountain ski resort in Ludlow, Vermont, a three-hour door-to-door drive from their home in Branford, Connecticut. The terrain had rolling meadows, pockets of soaring pines, rambling stone walls from the land’s early days as a sheep farm and abundant wildlife — including families of beavers hard at work building log homes of their own.
New Hampshire-based Coventry Log Homes helped the couple design a house that was a manageable size for the two empty nesters by themselves but could easily expand when their children or friends come for a stay.
The logs arrived in October 2013, just as Vermont found itself entering a colder-and-snowier-than-usual period. “It was so cold,” Rich says, “that the builders had to build a warming box to keep their nail guns from freezing up.”
Construction finished 13 months later. The beavers also had finished building their own log homes, and the resulting dam backed up the streams and turned some of the Contes’ meadows into small, picturesque lakes.
There’s a 1,200-foot-long driveway to the house, which, from the front, appears to be a modest ranch with extended gable porch roofs and generous decks. But friends and family step inside to see a much different personality emerge.
The floor-to-ceiling windows anchor the spacious, open floor plan. A wood-burning fireplace faced in stone stretches 13 feet wide and 12 feet tall. And then there are the beams. Thick horizontal purlins and tremendous trusses hold up tongue-and-groove planks and soar 20 feet at the highest point.