While the log cabin is a classic American icon, we usually don’t think about the actual roots of log dwellings. To us, it’s synonymous with ideals like American individualism, and it reminds us of historical heroes like Abraham Lincoln. But believe it or not, log cabins and homes have been around far longer than even America has. In fact, log cabins were one of the first real man-made dwellings in northern Europe. Similar to North America, centuries ago, countries like Finland and Sweden were covered in massive forests. So the people used what they had and constructed log homes, which probably would have looked something like the Finnish log cabin above. They were very rustic construction, since they were built before any kind of modern technology or machinery, and were usually inhabited by poor farming or mountain families.
Though the log cabin didn’t originate in the U.S., it certainly has become popular, and we’ve adopted it as a design all our own. The typical log cabin built by early American settlers would have looked something like this cabin in the woods. It would have been far away from most everything, and likely miles from the nearest town, since much of America was not yet settled. Additionally, the traditional American cabin was much like the European cabins in that they usually were only one room, with a fire on one side, and beds on the other. Some may have had lofts, but usually, entire families were crammed into the small, one-room cabin.
Later, as technology began to improve, people moved away from log buildings. At the time, it was smarter and cheaper to build a home out of brick or cement rather than just wood. Since technology was improving, it cost less and was more fashionable to build a home that was made from materials other than wood. For a while, the log home became almost obsolete, as people turned to vinyl siding and subdivided neighborhoods.
But, in the 60s, with the rise of the “back to the earth” movement, log homes and cabins started their comeback. As Americans worked more hours and became more and more stressed with their jobs and life in the city, they were looking for somewhere to turn to get back to nature. Log cabins provided this outlet, and many were constructed on pieces of land far outside the city. Soon, manufacturers jumped in and started making “cabin kits” so people could buy all of the supplies they needed for a cabin in just one stop, and then build it themselves. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, log cabins continued to grow in popularity as vacation destinations and second homes.
As we approach present day, traditional cabins have grown by leaps and bounds into true log homes. The size of a standard log house has nearly doubled, with the average size of a log home estimated at 2,200 sq. feet in 2004. Nowadays, people see logs and wood as a viable, sturdy, and long-lasting material to construct their home. Many people choose to live out in the country and commute to work, allowing them the extra space of a larger home, and the quiet and solitude that the city cannot offer.
With modern technological advancements, today a log home is a home like any other. They have all the benefits and amenities of any other house and are truly starting to become a mark of wealth. Like the picture above, grand houses made of log and other natural materials are becoming the new luxury home.
If you're working on designing, building, or even renovating your log home, be sure to check out Timeless Wood Care Products, where you can find everything you need to build or restore the perfect log home for you.