Getting a Fresh Start on the Farm
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Getting a Fresh Start on the Farm

One determined couple transforms their derelict family farm into a forever home.

Written by Suzanna Logan

Photography by KCJ Photography


“We bought the farm!” This tongue-in-cheek announcement from Kathy Bintz comes with a chuckle. Being married to a retired Air Force pilot, she knows the origins of the phrase are often traced back to aviators describing a final (and fatal) descent. Thankfully, her husband Don is alive and well, and “buying the farm” was far from the end of their story. In fact, purchasing the 160-acre family property was the beginning of a new chapter of their life — albeit one that took two decades to unfold.

The Bintzes purchased the land from Don’s mother in the year 2000 in the hopes of putting down roots in the small Wisconsin town where they had fallen in love as high school sweethearts. It would be the perfect place to build their forever home. Soon after the purchase, Kathy began taking drafting classes at a local community college and became hooked on the look of timber frames. “I designed the house we wanted, and kept the plans for years,” says Kathy. “I knew someday we would build it.” The plans traveled from Michigan to California to Nevada before “someday” came — in the form of Don’s retirement.

The couple turned their sights to building out the homestead, but there were a few other projects that had to happen before they could realize their dream of building: the barn needed a new foundation, and they had to convert the “pig barn” into a small guest house where they could live during construction. Lastly, they had to take down the old farmhouse that had fallen into disrepair. 

Finally, it was time to put their long-held plans into motion. The couple kept their business local and their budget in mind, choosing Wisconsin Log Homes to build their plans into a hybrid timber-style home. The original plan Kathy had drawn up all those years prior needed very few changes. “Kathy’s main goal was to keep the floor plan simple and comfortable,” says Jason LeQuia, Home Consultant at Wisconsin Log Homes. “We worked through the original plan and made some slight adjustments to make it more functional.” The overall layout remained unchanged and includes a loft overlooking open, shared living areas, two bedrooms and windows at every turn. 

Throughout the two floors, wood accents keep the timber aesthetic front and center; however, the couple opted for conventional framing. “Although the home is constructed in mostly a standard, conventional manner, there are timbers and beams that provide key structural components in the framing of the home,” explains Jason. “When designing the home, this was figured in along with decorative timbers to complete the whole manifestation of the timber frame.”

Getting the “full look of a timber frame,” as Kathy calls it, was key to her original vision: a bright and airy home with high ceilings and interiors filled with natural light and neutral tones grounded by wood elements, including a bold cedar timber truss at the entrance, an open-tread staircase and a timber-style roof system. “I wanted a clean, open look that was still inviting,” says Kathy. Stretches of drywall painted cream get a boost of texture from a faux finish, and hand-crafted features bring warmth to the interiors, including a custom cedar mantel and a live-edge cherry dining table crafted from trees felled from their land. 

While the interiors feel fresh, the home’s exterior hearkens back to the old house that rested in the same spot for over 100 years — but with a twist. Engineered-wood shakes that Kathy says “blend into the vernacular,” a fieldstone veneer chimney and a standing-seam metal roof perfectly suit the setting and ensure the new house will stand strong for another hundred years. “We are blessed that we were able to buy the family farm,” says Kathy. “We hope it continues for generations to come.”


Home Details



Square Footage: 1,882

Bedrooms: 2

Baths: 2 Full, 1 Half

Designer/Builder: Wisconsin Log Homes


See Also: A Natural Beauty in Maryland

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