Lujan's home shows the work of an artist

Mason & Morse listing home for $1.5 million

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— Harold Lujan's home redefines "tree house."

The South Routt log creation he has called home for the past 14 years took seven years to build. The home is truly one of a kind, crafted almost entirely with hundreds of locally gathered beetle-killed spruce that were then stacked and sealed using no chinking, nails or screws.

Not only do the materials and construction make this home unique, but numerous carvings and designs etched into the logs, doors and headers help distinguish it from the rest.

Sixteen-year Mason and Morse Realtor Tim Griggs said he has never seen a home like Lujan's.

On the other hand, Mason and Morse Realtor Tony Walton built a home in the same "scribe" fashion in the early 1980s.

"Scribe" is the style of log home, named after the tool used to create the style -- a scribe, or a sharp instrument for marking lines on wood or other material. Before each log is stacked, it is scribed and notched so that it fits snugly against the log below it. A thin layer of foam is the only sealant between the logs.

In constructing the house, two builders worked all day scribing and carving one log, Lujan said. Another would spend all day hand peeling one log. The logs are visible on the inside as well as the outside. They are thick enough to insulate the interior from the heat and cold, thanks to the thermal mass they provide by absorbing the interior temperatures. Lujan said his home stays comfortable year-round, and he even turns off the heat at night during the winter.

"There's a lot of work involved," Walton said. "But, it's well worth it."

Lujan and his wife make their living designing and making jewelry in their home studio. Lujan is always focusing on his art and says he often gets lost in his work while inside the work of art that is his house.

Lujan calls the house his "giant wood sculpture."

"Everybody involved in it had an artist mentality," Lujan said. "Everybody was into it. It's kind of a magical place to me."

Artists carved designs of trees, birds and other wildlife in various places around the home. Also, every light switch and electrical outlet is backed by a polished woodcarving.

Those who question the integrity of using beetle-killed spruce, Lujan said it is actually an ideal building material.

Log homes tend to shrink as the wood dries, but the beetle-killed spruces have been drying since the beetles killed them years before. The tracks of some beetles have contributed their own designs to some of the logs.

The logs were stacked whole while building the house. Holes for the doors and windows were cut after the house was built.

The house is just a few feet away from the old stage trail that used to connect Steamboat Springs with Oak Creek. The dirt road to the Lujan home is aptly named "Old Stage Trail."

The home sits on 60 acres of aspen-covered ground. The house is supplied water from the gravity flow of several springs in the hillside towering to the east. With no pumps, Lujan still gets 70 pounds of pressure from the line that runs 180 vertical feet and more than 3,500 total feet from the spring to the house.

Lujan is not thrilled about moving out of his 3,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bathroom masterpiece. He's not in a hurry to leave, either, but he raised his children there and they have moved out. He said he wants to simplify. The sale price is $1.5 million.

The house is three stories. The jewelry-making studio takes up much of the ground level, which he said easily could be converted to a separate apartment. The second floor houses a bathroom, the kitchen, dining area and great room, complete with a fireplace and a large skylight to illuminate the dark logs. The kitchen features a six-eye commercial gas range, and just outside a glass door is a patio and side yard with a huge log picnic table.

The top floor is a loft above the great room. The top floor includes a master bedroom and bathroom suite, a steam room, two other bedrooms and another bathroom.

"This house will outlive me and several more generations," Lujan said.

Old Stage Trail is 11 miles from the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 131. Visitors drive through a tunnel of aspens into a realm of complete peace and solitude.

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