When house hunting, many homebuyers might pass on a house that requires projects from top to bottom — even more so, an unfinished log cabin.
But when Darryl and Melissa Quiram came across such a place in Osceola Township, Wis., they were all in.
"When we got to the house, there was a dusty countertop with 11 Realtor cards on it," Darryl said. "The electrical outlets were still open, and we could see through the logs and daylight was coming in."
They were drawn to the rustic cabin made of Canadian Douglas Fir logs, in part because it was on a secluded and sprawling 7-acre-plus property that offered views of Lotus Lake.
Knowing they would have to seal the logs and finish the electrical work, they threw in an offer.
"Apparently the guy who owned it started to build it. He did a good job, and it looked like he just stopped and never finished it," Darryl said. "We were impressed with what he had done so far. And we like to do projects."
Passing the baton
The couple were happy to bring the log cabin to the finish line. They found a specialist who sealed, stained and preserved logs.
"At first, that was a concern for us as to how we preserve the logs, but it all worked out," Darryl said. "We did the whole house, and we have him redo it every five years to upkeep the logs. They're in pristine condition like when we saw it the first time."
The home's basement and upper level were unfinished when the couple purchased the home, which to them was a bonus. They were able to design the layout the way they liked – adding an entertainment area with a wood-burning stove and a custom stained glass wall as well as positioning a laundry and exercise room just where they wanted.
"We ended up Sheetrocking the basement and some of the upstairs," Darryl said, adding that while the outside looks like a log house, the inside is "half of a house that looks like a regular house, and half of a house that looks like a log house. If you're in the basement, you wouldn't know you were in a log house."
The Quirams moved in the spring of 2005, finishing the upstairs bedroom and bathroom so they could use that as their living space while their contractor finished the rest of the house. By August, it was done.
Onto the next project
Once the log cabin was complete, the couple turned their attention to the yard.
Darryl, a physician and a retired U.S. Army National Guard colonel, said he fell in love with skid steer equipment during a deployment in Iraq.
"The first thing I did when I got home was I bought a Bobcat and redesigned the whole yard," he said. "I don't play golf or anything. The Bobcat was my relaxation."
He created a large entertainment area as well as a wooden bridge over a creek that features two waterfalls. There's a spacious pergola with an outdoor kitchen and a ceiling of grapevines that produce a harvest each fall. And Darryl also carved out 11 themed gardens.
"The log cabin is on a hilltop. Half of it was just digging, and then we had to haul a lot of rock from my father's farm," he said. "It took us four years to finish all of the gardens."
Inside the house, Melissa plugged away at decorating the house to their liking, which meant plenty of art and antiques. Over the years, they've made updates and improvements, including a kitchen with a double oven, two restaurant-sized refrigerators and granite countertops.
After 16 years, the Quirams have listed their 2,500-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bathroom log home.
In addition to the log cabin, they also have a lake home and inherited a farm in southern Minnesota when Darryl's parents died. They plan to rehab the farm.
"We're busy, and we're kind of moving on," said Darryl. "Between the lake house and now the farm, we can't deal with three houses at the same time."
Listing agent Stephen Lund said the seclusion of the log home combined with nearby amenities makes it unique.
"It was conceived to truly be a retreat, to enjoy the solitude and serenity found in the North Woods but with all the access to the modern conveniences of restaurants, shops, shopping centers and recreation areas found within a short drive," Lund said.
The Quirams have enjoyed being within 10 miles of Osceola, Dresser and St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls across the Minnesota border, as well as having access to nearby marketplaces and wineries.
They've also benefited from proximity to plenty of recreational activities, including being a three-minute drive from Trollhaugen ski resort and 10 minutes from Wild Mountain ski resort. The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and Interstate State Park as well as two golf courses and several fishing lakes are minutes away.
From their bedroom window, they can see Trollhaugen and watch when it makes snow.
"At night when the lights are on and the skiers are out, it's magical," Melissa said.
Stephen Lund (theLundteam@edinarealty.com; 612-720-2900) of Edina Realty has the $900,000 listing.