Wilson, Wyoming

After 12 years, Carson Stanwood and his wife, Katherine, were sick of their home. Their 3,400-square-foot log house, built in the '70s, was dark and stuffy. "It was chopped up into a lot of little rooms," says Stanwood, founder of Stanwood & Partners, a public relations firm based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. "We were only really living in 10 or 15 percent of the house." Still, the couple was reluctant to leave their tree-covered three-acre lot. Katherine, who owns an eponymous clothing boutique in downtown Jackson, serendipitously struck up a conversation with a customer who happened to be looking for a new home, and a plan was hatched. The Stanwoods sold their house, but not the property, to the customer and her husband, who plucked up the whole thing and moved it eight miles down the road.

To build a replacement with more light and ventilation, the Stanwoods sought out Eric Logan, of Carney Architects, who is known for creating contemporary designs from inexpensive materials. After a year of planning and construction (they lived in a rented cabin down the road), the couple moved into their new 2,200-square-foot, bilevel three-bedroom in 2003. It ended up costing about $350,000--in an area where new homes top $1 million. "The other couple made out like bandits and so did we," says Stanwood, "because we didn't have to demolish the house, which would have been a huge waste anyway."

The Light "We wanted a lot more natural light. We installed big, six-foot-tall windows. It's a ton of glass. Even on a gray, rainy day, the house is really bright."

The Cabinets "Our wall panels and cabinets are made of medium-density fiberboard. It's the core layer that cabinet makers usually put a veneer over. When you stain it with linseed oil, it turns a cool orangish yellow. It's absurdly inexpensive."

The Bump "There's an area that the architect refers to as the bump--the box that protrudes off the front. It's a great place to sit and read or drink coffee."

The Flooring "The floor on the second level is concrete--we left it gray instead of staining it. Jackson is known for brutally cold nights, so the floor is heated. The lower level has pine plank flooring, which is super cheap."

The Neighbors "There's a lot of wildlife in the area. We see snowshoe hares, deer, and moose. When it snows, they use the eaves for shelter. We'll open the door, and a moose is there. The cat will come tearing back in."

The Decks "We have two decks, one on each end of the house. The one that faces southeast is really nice in the mornings, and in the afternoon the sun swings around to warm the one facing southwest."

The Furniture "We both travel a lot for work, and we'd buy furniture on our trips. Stuff would show up in a box, and the person who didn't buy it would be surprised. The white swivel chairs came from the Limn Gallery in San Francisco."