I knew it was coming… I mean, this is a feeling I’ve had for awhile… a feeling of dissatisfaction with log home magazines in general. I’ve just never verbalized it before.
The fact is, here we are 2 years into the process of designing and building our log home. We still haven’t exactly broken ground yet (due to the fact that banks aren’t really in the business of loaning money these days). And I’m already tired of seeing the same stories about the same things and the same pictures in the same log home magazines. Yet, I still want to be a well-informed log home owner.
Of course I realize (and can appreciate the fact that) the log home magazines are going to cater to those who are “potential” log home owners, future log home wannabees, newbies, and those considering building their own log cabin retreat. Especially since the advertisers are eager to reach those exact same people.
But at what point are the log home magazine publishers (and advertisers) going to realize there’s more to be said about log homes than how to plan, design, and build ’em?
What about all of us who are past all that? I’m not even officially an “owner” yet, and I’m already craving information about the many ways that you can jazz up your log home and make it uniquely yours — inside and out. I’m already thinking beyond just building it. I’m much more interested in other aspects of log home living at this point.
(Just wait, this gets better…)
What? A Magazine For Log Home Owners?
Yes, I know the log home magazines do occasionally feature ways to decorate your log home, and there is usually info about a new product here & there, and some very basic log home maintenance tips thrown in for good measure.
But the log home mags are just skimming the surface when it comes to those topics. That type of content is few and far between. When you count the number of pages that contain that type of content versus the number of pages that contain things like floor plans and design ideas… there’s no comparison.
Case in point — 3 log home magazines I’m currently looking at:
- From page 75 to page 144 of one log home magazine, there is nothing but log home floorplans and ads. Period. That’s 48% of the magazine.
- In another log home magazine (a “special issue”), pages 120 to 240 contain nothing but floor plans and ads. That’s clearly 50% of the magazine devoted to subjects most log home owners (and anyone who’s already decided on their log home plan) could care less about.
- In another log home magazine, pages 64 to 95 contained nothing but ads and floorplans. That’s 33%, which I believe is more in line with what’s generally expected in the magazine industry (at least it was back when I dabbled in the biz years ago).
Not to mention the fact that there are still tons of ads featured on the other pages of these magazines as well. There is clearly no shortage of advertisers in these magazines. Perhaps some of them would be interested in marketing to log home owners as well?… Just a thought.
The message to the reader here is: Unless you’re interested in floorplans, you’re pretty much wasting your money subscribing to these log home magazines.
Of couse, I just skip right over those pages. (No wonder it only takes me 20 minutes to read a log home magazine, right?)
Hopefully soon, someone in the log home industry will realize that there are so many more angles to cover, so much more depth that could be given to subjects that would appeal to a seasoned log home owner. Or, someone like me, who’s got the basics pretty well figured out (thanks in large part to log home magazines such as these) — and now they’re ready to take things to the next level.
That’s where This Old House magazine comes in…
Why I Like This Old House
I first “discovered” this magazine after many of the things I was searching for online kept landing me on the This Old House website — which is filled to the gills with how-to’s and advanced instructional types of articles of interest to homeowners.
Of course, their content isn’t geared in any way toward log home owners. Which is precisely why I think this is an opportunity waiting to happen for that lucky someone who manages to pull it off first! Who thinks they can create a magazine like This Old House specifically for log home owners? Anyone?
- Storage & organization tips for the inside of your log home — everyone knows that most log homes (and even moreso, log cabins) are lacking in terms of closet space and storage areas.
- Interesting art & decor that appeals to log home owners — in my opinion, there are a number of unique types of decorations that you might not want to put in your stick-built home, but they’d be perfect for a log home which typically lend themselves to lots of tall and wide wall spaces.
- New products and ideas hot off the press — duh, this is a given. There’s so much to cover here, yet relatively speaking, it’s hardly covered at all in the log home magazines.
- Furniture and lighting that appeals to log home owners — and we’re not just talking about “rustic” moose things here!
- Remodeling and redecorating ideas — specific ideas just for log home bathrooms and log home kitchens, there’s so much to talk about here. Everyone knows that kitchens and baths are #1.
- Tips for adding onto your log home (a whole new room, or an entire “wing”) — if you didn’t design your home with that wall of windows you always wanted, what are some ways to do this later? Sunrooms, porches, the addition of rooms and/or floors.
- What about the many things you can write about outdoor living spaces? Few homeowners appreciate the indoor/outdoor lifestyle more than log home owners who, by virtue of thelr logs alone, are “one with nature”.
- Tips for adding color into your rooms — we’re talking serious color. here.. like trim, staining interior logs, painting interior logs, in addition to various decor methods which add vibrant full-out color into an otherwise brown room with log walls.
- Repair and maintenance issues — talk about articles galore! You could write about virtually every little thing that could go wrong in a log home, including how to prepare for it (or prevent it from happening in the first place) and what to do if it happens to you.
- Garage issues — from organization tips to carports vs garages. Lots of log homes are built without ANY type of garage or carport — what about those who want to add these later?
- Pet-friendly additions — in the form of furnishings, build-outs, and spaces devoted just to the pets.
- Quick tips & takeaways — need I say more?
I don’t know… maybe the log home magazine people think they would be repeating too much information that can already be found in other magazines.
Nonsense. I think there’s a way to do it with a unique log home twist at times. Plus, don’t think we don’t want to know “general” homeowner tips sometimes too. A log home is, after all, still a home.
And if there’s some overlap of ideas between “regular” and “log home magazines”… then who cares? Just put a log home flavor on things whenever you can. And show us pictures and examples of these same “general” things done in log homes. That’s all we want… a little log home love for those who actually live in log homes. You know, “takeaways” that would appeal to the person who has already built (or moved into) a log home. That’s all.
Besides, most log home owners probably don’t even subscribe to This Old House like I do. So, I say feel free to replicate many of the topics covered there and in other homeowner mags.
(Psst… in case you’re wondering, This Old House magazine is not just about restoring old homes. Far from it. I know, I was shocked at first too.)
The Nitty Gritty Details: Log Homes Mags vs This Old House
#1 Time spent reading the magazine.
It takes me 20 minutes (tops!) to get through an issue of a log home magazine — from cover to cover. Reading everything that interests me.
On the other hand, it takes me at least 2 days to get through an issue of This Old House magazine. This is a good thing. It means there’s a ton of information inside that I truly want to read!
I know these numbers are important to publishers… log home mags need to find a way to increase the “read time” of us more seasoned log homers.
Part of the reason that I spend so little time reading the log home magazines is because so many of their pages are devoted to floorplans (and ads) — usually in one big section that takes up the entire second half of the magazine. In comparison, This Old House has no “chunks” or sections of the magazine that are devoted to any one thing like that. (Wait, I take that back. There is usually an 8-page section about a classic home restoration project. I often skip those pages.)
For the most part, I’m fully engrossed from Page 1 to Page 140, each and every month I’m reading This Old House magazine. And when I get to that last page, I want more. I can’t wait for the next issue to arrive. Not so with the log home magazines.
#2 I’m over the “long, wordy stories” that are found in the log home magazines.
Give me short and to the point. That’s what I’m after. Time is precious these days. Yet I’ll still spend much more time (in hours) reading This Old House compared to a log home magazine. This despite the fact that TOH contains so many short reads (rather than long stories that would typically take a long time to read) and bulleted lists and how-to’s and to-the-point content that answers readers’ most pressing questions. They primarily offer short-takes and easy to read material, yet I still spend so much more time flipping through the pages of This Old House. That says something.
Besides, I don’t need to know every detail of a log home owner’s life — these are people I’ll never meet. And I really don’t care that their daughter goes to so and so college. I just want to skip to the best parts about their log home, period. Short & sweet. Just the facts man, nothin’ but the facts.
If I’m interested in that much detail, let me read it online in a “web extra”. Or (heaven forbid), give me the blog or website of the homeowners themselves! Now that’s what I’d really like to see. That’s 21st century journalism right there! Welcome to the real world, Mr. Log Home Magazine Publisher.
On the other hand, I’m thrilled to read almost every single full-length article that appears in This Old House magazine — because they’re so darned short and easy to read. I can grasp the main points of each article without having to “dig” for them. And I’m always satisfied with many “takeaways” that I can actually use in real life.
#3 Log home magazines rarely, if ever, list the prices for the items they feature. That’s a huge downside.
On the other hand, This Old House makes it a habit to go that next step and provide readers with the ballpark price, as well as the website where the item can be ordered — right there in the article (rather than in an index in the back or something).
#4 I cannot believe how much repetition occurs from year to year within the same log home magazines. Not to mention all the repetition of ideas spread across several log home magazines in the industry — each saying the exact same thing a slightly different way.
Even the same pictures are included year after year! That’s just silliness. (Well then again, maybe it’s not if their primary audience is “new” and “prospective” log home owners. Because, chances are, most of those people haven’t seen the previous issues.)
For me, and most other log home owners… we’re bored to tears by that type of repetition.
Trust me when I say, after 2 years of subscribing to the same log home magazines (that I loved and got so much valuable information from during the planning phases of our log home), it’s time to move on to some more advanced topics and fresh, new content.
And, in case you’re wondering, I’m currently on my 2nd year subscribing to TOH magazine as well. Prior to that, I received freebie hand-me-down issues from a friend for years. So I can attest to the fact that there is relatively no repetition inside the pages of This Old House from year to year. (Love that!)
#5 To be among the first to see new ideas and learn about things “hot off the press” is the #1 reason I subscribe to magazines. Otherwise, I can find most of the content I want online somewhere.
Log home magazines tend to reveal new products in the form of “ads” more than product reviews or descriptive summaries. One-liners are hardly worth the time spent reading them. I’d like some meat with my potatoes, please.
While new products and services are sometimes featured in the log home magazines, it’s as if they’re more of an afterthought (tossed into the magazine just moments before going to press) than anything else. There’s no focus, no features, no depth given to these subjects.
Without a doubt, there are more examples and “takeaways” within the pages of This Old House magazine, as opposed to the log home magazines which tend to get all bogged down in the thorough details (for the beginners, of course).
Log Home Magazines Are For Beginners
Again, please don’t get me wrong. For new log home owners — or prospective ones — the log home magazines are great. They serve their purpose well.
Log home magazines are filled with introductory ideas and planning details that you’ll need to know. It’s just after that first year’s subscription runs out (or maybe the 2nd year) — after you’ve learned and studied all the basics — that your subscription to these log home magazines will most likely seem redundant. (Especially if you’ve subscribed to 2 or more log home magazines!)
And to be honest, it’s hard to NOT re-subscribe. I mean, we got so much great info from these log home experts through our subscriptions as newbies. But now, we’re craving even more!
If that’s you… and you’re contemplating resubscribing to one of the log home magazines, I’m just here to tell you, you may want to check out This Old House magazine for a fresh change of pace — at least until someone comes out with a log home version of this great magazine. (Psst… they’re currently offering 2 free issues to new subscribers!)
And if you’re already living in a log home… chances are, the log home magazines won’t have much to offer you at all. That’s why log home blogs and other homeowner magazines are so great.
On that note… I do think the log home magazines are doing a great job with their online resources for log home owners. The best are those that have community forums — that’s where you can usually find a quick answer to your log home questions and get advice from others who’ve been there, done that. There is definitely a wealth of info to be found in the online communities of the log home mags; and it’s all easily searchable.
I’ve purposely not mentioned any log home magazines by name. The reason for that is simple: It’ s not about any one of them, it’s about the industry as a whole.
Granted, these are just random thoughts from a soon-to-be log home owner who’s already studied and locked in “the basics” of her new log home, and now she’s eager to take things to the next level. Perhaps I’m way out of line here, I don’t know. But that doesn’t stop how I feel and the type of content I’m seeking. I would like to think that some log home magazine publishers and advertisers might be remotely interested in marketing to my eyeballs.
In the past 2 years, I have subscribed to 3 different log home magazines. And in the year prior to that, I religiously studied the many different log home magazines in order to fine-tune my top picks to subscribe to. To this day, I will occasionally pick up a log home magazine that I don’t subscribe to in a bookstore — just to read on vacation, while traveling, etc. Suffice it to say, I have a pretty good feel for what is covered in the log home magazines at this point. Very predictable content.
This Old House, on the other hand… I can’t get enough.
Just my $.02.
Here’s a list of all my favorite house & home magazines for home organizing, de-cluttering and decorating tips.
We've gone through the entire process of designing and planning every single detail of our dream log home! We have the blueprints… and the land… and the contractor… and the goal for our log cabin home to be our retirement home. Before you build (or buy) a log home, I have a slew of helpful tips for you — to plan, design, build, decorate, and maintain your very own rustic modern log home. When I'm not fine-tuning the log home of my dreams, you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).