Timeless Trends For Timber Frame Homes

The home building sector is in full recovery, but some of the lessons learned from the economic downturn are still very present for many homeowners. The design trends of today are carry-overs influenced by forced decisions of past years. Some of the obvious trends that continue are smaller open floor plans, energy efficiency, signature home designs, and low maintenance. How do these design trends effect timber frame builders like us? Let’s take a look.


Simplifying the dream home often means shrinking its square footage, to allow reallocation of a budget for a list of “wants”. Post-recession home buyers are conscious of budgets and building smaller homes has continued as a trend nationwide. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the average home size has decreased by 200 square feet since last year. Homeowners are swapping the formal living room and formal dining room in favor open, multi-use spaces. The designated guest room doubles as a home office in many homes.

Small homes can still make a statement with the right curb appeal. Some of the more popular options are rock, stucco, or exposed lumber (think timber framing) – all of which add a desirable, high-quality appearance.


Timber homes wrapped in structural insulated panels (SIPs) have always provided airtight construction – one of the most important contributors for home efficiency. It’s also appealing to the “green” buyer. The panels, which are made up of a layer of insulating foam sandwiched between sheets of oriented strand board (OSB), provide a blanket of insulation and boost a home’s energy efficiency. Some timber homes go even further with SIPs on the roof and insulated concrete foundation walls. Achieving high R-ratings is easy with timber homes because the structure accommodates the efficiency improvements without significant added investment.


Until recently, buyers often came to timber home builders requesting second homes or vacation log homes. There has been a shift in the last 10 years to an upgraded primary residence with more substantial investment in functional beauty of a home. Ten thousand Baby Boomers are retiring every day and they want a nice place to serve as home base. In the past, homeowners built second homes with a plan to someday use it as a retirement home.

As Baby Boomers age-in-place, they want open floors plans that offer accessibility including wider doors, zero clearance doorways, deeper treads on stairways, and open floor plans. Timber frames buildings offer some unique adaptability opportunities like stacking closets to allow for a future elevator. For some timber home buyers, planning a permanent home underscores a generational shift toward sustainability. Home buyers today are looking to invest in the structure of a new home. “If you’re going to buy a home, you can update most of a home’s interior, but you can’t upgrade the bones,” Doug Beilfuss of Custom Timber Frames reminds us.


Homeowners of every age want to spend as little time as possible on maintenance chores. Low-maintenance means choosing exterior finishes such as stone or stucco, or fiber-cement siding products like James Hardie’s HardiePlank that cut down on frequent exterior painting.

For exterior finishes, new home buyers are considering stone, cultured stone, or even metal siding. And wood siding can now come with a engineered finish designed to “gray out” to cut down on the need to refinish.

These low maintenance trend continues in the interior including countertops, flooring, and window frames. Today’s home buyers don’t want to be tied down with lists of maintenance projects every weekend.


Trends ebb and flow, but some elements of timber homes remain perennial favorites. Open floor plans with a great room adjacent to the kitchen lure homeowners year after year. Timber homes go hand-in-hand with open floor plans. With the timber structure supporting the roof, wide open expanses with very few interior walls are possible.

A strong connection to the outdoors continues to top timber-home owners’ lists of priorities. Porches, decks, and patios are perfect in nearly every climate. As the timber framed house continues to impact design selections, many new timber log cabins are designed to let the outside in with window or patio door light. But the trend is also expanding the indoor space to the outdoors with entertainment kitchens and outdoor commons areas.

Of course, the beauty of wood offers the timeless appeal. Homeowners continue to choose timbers as a way to build a home with lasting warmth. Perhaps exposed wood is the best reminder that we aren’t at work, but finally at home.


Custom Timber Frames origins are in Madison, WI. We engineer, design and fabricate all of our designs from our own facility where we handcraft raw logs into custom posts, beams and rafters to be joined together as the structural backbone for residential and commercial projects nationwide. If you are in the design process, contact us today! We ship and assemble nationwide.

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