From the front yard, the Hunt family’s home in Mesa appears to be your typical cozy, single-family house. Nothing unusual there. Head around back, however, and it’s a different story.
“I always wanted a log house,” says Kevin Hunt, head of the family and the visionary behind what is now known as “the cabin.”
Where once a dusty, weed-filled backyard bordered an ordinary brick house, there is now a mountain-worthy patio framing a pine log-sided home.
Or, at least, part of one.
Building a log home in the desert “just wasn’t feasible,” says Hunt, father of nine and grandfather of three. Instead, the doit-yourself dad decided to use pine log siding on the back of his home to create the look and feel of a log cabin.
Hunt, a soft-spoken bookkeeper, wasn’t exactly what one would call “experienced” in home renovations before taking on this project. “I just got on the Internet and found out everything I could,” he says.
He also persuaded three of his sons and his three sons-in-law to take part.
“It wasn’t exactly what we wanted to do every Saturday,” says Keith Hunt, 18.
“But you did,” his father points out with a smile.
Family and friends — about 40 in all — lent a hand at some point or another
with the project. In one day alone, 25 members of the extended Hunt family traveled from Utah to help with some of the heavy construction. Reminiscent of an old-fashioned barn-raising, says Hunt, they served box lunches, held a square dance and roped a wooden horse (which really more closely resembles a giraffe, says Hunt, who built it).
Even Hunt’s 11-year-old daughter, Larissa, pitched in with one of the more daring jobs — putting on the roof over the outdoor grilling area. “I was hoisted up on the overhang to put up shingles!” she says. “It’s cool.”
Before starting the project, Hunt went to each of his children — ranging in age from 9 to 27 — and asked them what they wanted to see in their ultimate backyard.
One said picnic tables, another said swings and someone else wanted a horseshoe pit. The plans expanded, and Keith admits he had his doubts.
“We didn’t think it’d all fit,” says Hunt.
He also admits there was some skepticism from the family when he proposed building a log cabin at the back of their house. “None of them believed me at first,” he says. But after 16 months of sometimes working 12-hour days each Saturday, “the cabin” was completed just in time to hold the rehearsal dinner for another of his sons’ October 2005 wedding.
The biggest pain, says Keith, was pouring the concrete.
The best part, says Larissa, is the trampoline.
But for Hunt, it was all about the family experience — the stuff memories are made of.
“It really pulled us together as a team.”