Photography by Jen Burner

Published on January 13, 2021

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Decades ago, a firefighter built a cabin in Fort Worth, Texas, out of a log kit. When High Street Homes founders Brett and Kara Phillips’ clients bought the place from him, they didn’t bother to change a thing. According to Brett, “They embraced it”—7-foot-high ceilings and all. But as the homeowners’ children grew up, moved out, and had kids of their own, they no longer wanted to just embrace it. They wanted to love it. “And so we worked through the floor plan,” recalls Brett. 

The designers reconfigured the first floor so that the kitchen was the focal point (previously the dining area took up more than half of the 40-by-50-foot room). They also carved out a hardworking hallway that encompasses a laundry area, pantry, powder room, and built-in desk. Now you nearly forget they didn’t even raise the cedar beams or add any new windows. A heavy dose of white paint and a smart footprint brightened everything right up. 

Give Your Scrappy Wire Work an Electric Touch

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Because there’s no space between the first and second floors to run electrical or plumbing, the Phillipses had to get creative with disguising the guts of the home. In the downstairs hallway they hid the drain that leads to the upstairs bathroom inside of a pantry cabinet. Elsewhere little bits of trim and tongue-and-groove panels cover up wires. “It proved to make the biggest impact and was worth the investment,” says Kara. 

The couple ran the smallest wiring through the grooves of the logs in order to get under-cabinet lighting and island pendants in the kitchen. The track fixtures turned out to be a huge win for the budget (the simple strips are from Lowe’s), but you barely notice the exposed bulbs thanks to all the white paint. 

Treat Your Cabinets Like Heirlooms

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Removing the upper cabinets that used to hang between the cooking area and the dining space had a major impact on the first floor, visually. For the new upper cabinets, painted in Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray, the Phillipses went with glass doors for a furniture feel (the owners previously housed their dishware in a large hutch and liked the look of it). Bulky items, such as the refrigerator and freezer, are now tucked neatly underneath the stairs.

Draw a Hard Line 

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After having lived with the round brown logs for so long, the homeowners were okay with hiding some of them in the kitchen, so the designers continued the quartz backsplash up one of the corners to make a floating shelf. The platform provides extra storage, but it also switches up the geometry. “Nothing is ever really square with a log cabin,” says Brett. “This allowed them to get a sense of straightness and change the way the kitchen felt.” 

Make a Clean Getaway

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Rather than compromise the two large windows in the laundry space that’s just around the corner from the kitchen, the designers constructed a low bench with drawers so the owners can stow away cleaning products and use the top of the surface for folding and sorting. “If guests come over and use the bathroom, everything automatically feels put away,” says Brett. “They don’t feel like they’re walking through your dirty clothes.”

All of the floors are the original pine, just sanded, rebuffed, and painted over with a barely there light gray color that makes the old nailheads stand out. “Using what you have actually adds more character and charm,” says Brett. “It celebrates the original aspects of the home while adding to the newness.”

Get the Look

Photography by Jen Morley Burner

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