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STYLE : ARCHITECTURE : Cabin Class

August 30, 1992|BARBARA THORNBURG

A modern log cabin may sound like an oxymoron, but that's what Culver City architect Melinda Gray designed for actor Nicholas Walker and his wife, Wendy, a singer-songwriter. It all began in 1986, when the Walkers decided to build a rustic log cabin from a kit. But after consulting Gray, they opted for a custom plan, adapted to their Topanga Canyon hillside, and got a contemporary castle with breathtaking views.

The two-story, 2,800-square-foot house was built one sleek module at a time over the last six years. During the 1988 writers' strike, Nicholas dug the foundation, then kept the building permit valid by doing small jobs. In 1990, he landed a role on the soap "One Life to Live" in New York and was finally able to purchase materials to start construction. Logs were cut in Nevada and trucked to the site, where a crew of six erected the three pavilions in a week. Passageways, decks and the master bath took a year.

The Walkers, who followed most of the construction by phone and video, are now back in California and learning about the ups and downs of log cabin life. They must chink the logs (similar to grouting tile) to protect the interior from the site's wind-driven rains. And since rods were used to brace the logs against earthquakes, they must also tighten exposed bolts as the logs shrink. On a more positive note, their home offers unique coziness and warmth, and because it is made of fresh-smelling cedar, moth-eaten sweaters are a thing of the past.

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