De Soto modern log cabin to be featured on HGTV
About 15 years ago, commercial contractor Mike Fowks decided he would take his work home with him.
At that time, Fowks started building a house for him and his wife, Sheila, in rural Johnson County southeast of De Soto using the materials and techniques he had used for some of his projects.
"This is what I do," he said. "This is the kind of thing I build."
His projects mix traditional materials with those found more often in commercial or industrial applications. After working "nights and weekends" for more than three years, the result was a post-modern log cabin Mike and Sheila moved into 10 years ago.
"My first thought was this was going to be a cold house," he said. "It looks pretty comfortable -- not too overboard."
If not overboard, Mike admitted it was "not the normal house you see in the Johnson County suburban setting."
It's unique enough that it will be featured on the HGTV show "Look What I Did!"
Mike and Sheila said the film crew from the show visited and shot 40 minutes of film in their home.
"They'll probably edit that down to five or six minutes," Mike said. "I have no idea what they are going to show."
That's not entirely true. He knows he'll introduce the segment with, "I'm Mike Fowks of De Soto, Kansas, and look what I did."
The show found the Fowks through Kansas City Home and Garden Magazine, which named a home Mike renovated as its remodel project of the year. In the cover story on the project, Fowks mentioned he built a house with similar features for his family, which now includes daughters Lyndsey and Ellie.
Even with its non-traditional log and limestone dominated exterior, the house surprises visitors on entry with its interior open to the roof trusses 22 feet above the ground floor. A visitor will also notice materials such as cables, cement, stainless steel, corrugated metal, and fiberboard used in very non-traditional ways.
The home has 2,700-square-feet of floor space and two family living spaces, Mike said. A ground floor "daytime" space in front of a large circular brick fireplace (installed after the show was filmed) offers a view of a backyard pond and a balcony "evening" space on the second level.
Bedrooms are on the other side of the central staircase, enclosed in the same logs as what are used on the home's exterior.
One of the keys to making the interior work was building to the scale imposed by the 22-foot clear space between ground floor and trusses, Mike said. That meant building oversized kitchen cabinets and duplicating the size of a stainless steel stove hood included in his commercial projects, he said.
Despite its national TV exposure, don't expect the home to be widely reproduced. Mike said a potential customer wanted a home with many of the same elements but had difficulty finding a homeowner's association willing to accept such a departure from the norm.