Cabin Fever

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En­vi­sion your own rus­tic re­treat with ideas from a Con­necti­cut cou­ple whose love for their log home ri­vals their pas­sion for prim­i­tives.

Es­tab­lish an invit­ing am­bi­ence in your home by fol­low­ing the lead of a Con­necti­cut cou­ple who fell for a log cabin and shaped it into the rus­tic re­treat of their dreams via style-ap­pro­pri­ate up­dates and com­fort­able fur­nish­ings.

Patti Spitler had al­ways been in­trigued by dwellings with a rus­tic vibe. So, when she spot­ted a “for sale” ad for a log home in Am­ston, Con­necti­cut, she and her hus­band, Tom, de­cided to check it out. They were im­me­di­ately smitten. “We drove by and fell in love with it,” Patti re­calls. “We just thought, ‘This is for us.’”

Since that fate­ful day in 1992 when the cou­ple de­cided to pur­chase the 1,400-square-foot New Eng­land log home, Patti has de­vel­oped a keen eye for the coun­try prim­i­tive style that makes the struc­ture shine. She notes that she’s now un­do­ing some of her ear­lier projects, such as re­mov­ing wall­pa­per and tex­tured wall treat­ments. “I’m get­ting more and more prim­i­tive. I want to stay true to what I think is a sim­ple coun­try style,” she ex­plains.

The cou­ple made no­tice­able changes to the home’s fa­cade, in­clud­ing build­ing a de­tached barn-style garage, paint­ing the en­tire ex­te­rior and con­struct­ing a large deck. The Spitlers’ largest in­te­rior project took place a few years ago when Patti worked with a lo­cal fur­ni­ture maker to de­sign and build a new kitchen. They added soap­stone coun­ter­tops, a tum­bled­mar­ble back­splash and a farm­house-style sink, along with new cab­i­nets with a dis­tressed fin­ish. The cab­i­nets were first painted black and then top-coated with slate be­fore be­ing sanded and waxed. The cab­i­net­maker also con­structed cus­tom board-and-bat­ten doors for use through­out the home.

When it comes to achiev­ing the un­com­pli­cated decor she fa­vors, Patti de­signs with her col­lec­tions. She groups bas­kets and crocks to­gether, not only cre­at­ing small fo­cal points but also “hid­ing and stor­ing the ev­ery­day liv­ing stuff,” she notes. Tex­tiles are freely mixed and matched—gath­ered en masse on shelves, piled atop beds and hung on walls. Re­pro­duc­tion cus­tom fur­ni­ture min­gles with an­tique pieces and items found in lo­cal shops.

Her sim­plest—as well as bud­get-friendly—tech­nique for rein­vig­o­rat­ing a room is to ex­per­i­ment with win­dow dress­ings. “Ei­ther re­move them, or pull them back, tie them one way and then another,” Patti ex­plains. “Do­ing so, I walk in and see the room a lit­tle dif­fer­ently.”

This self-pro­claimed home­body finds the process of mak­ing her log cabin into a com­fort­able haven for her­self and Tom some­thing that fills her heart and spirit. “It is a very joy­ful hobby,” she en­thuses.

Patti and Tom Spitler of­ten stroll the peace­ful grounds of their prop­erty with Lila, their 2-year-old Rhode­sian Ridge­back, by their sides.


Com­pose a sym­met­ri­cal seat­ing area by ar­rang­ing two iden­ti­cal chairs on ei­ther side of a slim chim­ney cup­board. Patti had hers cus­tom made years ago. Place co­or­di­nat­ing pillows and blan­kets on each chair for added lay­ers of in­ter­est.

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