House Tour: Reinventing History
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It all began when John and Patti Meyer were searching for a tiny cabin for maple sugaring in northern Wisconsin. Word got out, and people with unwanted cabins started calling. Within a year, John had dismantled and collected nine log buildings. That was a lot more syrup than the Meyers would ever make.
The solution to the surplus is their unique family getaway in Egg Harbor. Nestled on the western shore of the Door County Peninsula, the house incorporates a string of three cabins—each at least a century old—all carefully reconstructed atop a fieldstone foundation (to raise ceilings) and knitted together with a galvanized roof and new construction.
Throughout the house, dense, hand-hewn, square-cut, dovetail-notched timbers—made from huge old-growth trees—offer historic character no modern materials can match. New painted tongue-and-groove pine plank walls conceal insulation, plumbing and other mechanicals. Extra timbers and miscellaneous reclaimed wood pieces were recycled as floor planks, ceilings and stairs. "We tried to be as green as possible," says John.
Left On the screen porch, well-used oars act as art hung on a cabin’s timbered wall.
A vintage duck boat decorates a lean-to carport/patio. The lattice-style cement-paver-and-grass driveway percolates rainwater and pampers bare feet.
The new living room section—a glass “breezeway” connecting two of the vintage cabins—lets the family feel as if they are living outside whatever the season.
Patti handled the decor, blending woods with a neutral palette of cream, “greige” (a beige-y gray) and black. “I wanted a seamless indoor-outdoor flow,” Patti says, “so I looked at the colors in the logs and went from there.” Creamy hues echo the pale chinking and fieldstone. The result is a warm, rustic look that’s a bit more polished and sophisticated than a typical cabin.
John’s artistic skills are also evident: He built several pieces of furniture (the living room coffee table and hallway bench, for example), and most of the contemporary artwork is his.
Left Painted wall planks and reclaimed wood floors establish a look that unites all three cabins.
The kitchen’s character comes from a stone wall and hand-rubbed, stained cabinets.
Abstract art and an old boat model reflect the compatibility of old and new in the home.
Gray walls offer a restful mood in the master bedroom.
In the den, family photos record memories.
A quirky hallway combines cowhide and modern art with ease.
Screen porch pleasures
The Meyers enjoy their home year-round—especially its screen porch, which includes a fireplace. “It’s where we spend most of our time unless it’s winter,” says Patti, pictured here with John and daughter Abby. “There’s just something about the fresh air, the water views and a fire.”
Ironically, John never found the right cabin for a “sugar shack,” so he built one from scratch. (It’s near the family home in De Pere.) But the cabin hunt paid off in an unforeseen way: John has started a business specializing in that wonderfully aged, reclaimed timber.
Builder Forestville Builders and Supply, 114 Main St., Forestville, Wisconsin. (920) 856-6460; forestvillebuilders.com
Reclaimed timber Beam and Board. (920) 366-2564; beamandboard.com
To-the-trade furnishings and accents below available through: Nathan Nichols and Co., 8068 Hwy. 57, Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin. (920) 839-9779; nathan-nichols.com
Screen porch Teak porch furniture Kingsley-Bate. (703) 361-7001; kingsleybate.com
Living room Coffee table Beam and Board. beamandboard.com Console table Industrial counter. Bobo Intriguing Objects (404) 355-2309; bobointriguingobjects.com Floor lamp, table lamps Bobo Intriguing Objects bobointriguingobjects.com Sofas Baker Furniture. (800) 592-2537; bakerfurniture.com
Kitchen Cabinetry Forestville Builders and Supply. forestvillebuilders.com Appliances Dacor. (800) 793-0093; dacor.com Light pendants Benson. Restoration Hardware. (800) 910-9836; restorationhardware.com
Hallway Wood bench Beam and Board beamandboard.com