By Naomi Klouda
Robin and Margareta Lipinski put their combined talents into a five-story log home near Whiskey Gulch, dubbed a “Log Mahal,” and now they intend to auction it off.
Whoever ends up buying the property will have purchased an Alaska lifestyle off the grid with energy independence.
“An auction with no premium starting price is a fairly unusual procedure,” said Robert Maney of the Grubstake Auction Co., out of Anchorage.
“What it means is that I’m serious about selling. No games, no shenanigans,” Lipinski said. The event is already gathering steam on the website Williams and Williams, and will be formally completed Saturday. Beginning bids start at $1.
The five-story home took seven and a half years to build. It was built using 26 truckloads of spruce bark beetle-killed logs. It is powered by three windmills and 36 solar panels. Rental cabins and RV slots are included in the 10.5-acre property, which Lipinski and his wife didn’t initially want to rent out because they were aimed primarily at creating a home.
Later, the Lipinskis paired up with a local guide and provided his clients housing in the unique cabins on the grounds.
“The question I’m asked most is, ‘Why?’ Why am I selling this? It boils down to life is too short and dreams are too big,” Lipinski said. “I’m going to throw my hat in the air, and whichever way the wind blows it, we’ll follow it.”
Like his larger-than-life house, Lipinski’s decades of life have been full of one adventure after another, he
said. He met his wife 27 years ago when she was working in the U.S. embassy in Stockholm. They lived in Montana and Oregon, Lipinski logging, farming and working in the Coast Guard while Margereta worked on her art pieces. Lipinski’s quest for an Alaska property meant he went full steam into the research.
Eight years ago, it was Lipinski’s dream to live on an Alaska coast. The couple eyed places from Ketchikan to Homer. They found property just north of Anchor Point, sitting just above the Whiskey Gulch beach with a view of Iliamna and Redoubt mountains and Cook Inlet coursing past.
“I had a dad who said, ‘Woulda, shoulda, coulda.’ I didn’t want to live like that. I figure I’ve lived three lives. I started out on a farm in Montana (growing up.) I was in the Marines, as an embassy guard in India and Stockholm. I ran 44-foot lifeboats in the Coast Guard. And then I moved here and built my dream house,” Lipinski said.
He received some “bad news” lately that he doesn’t want to discuss, which also prompts the move.
“I don’t want to saddle my wife with a lot of house, the snowplowing and the wood chopping,” he said.
The finished house offers an artistic haven for the many talents of Margareta, a noted painter, potter and jewelry maker. She keeps a well-equipped art studio on a sun-lit floor. A shop at the entrance is open to the public, where her artistic pieces are sold.
Combined with Lipinski’s carpenter skills, the two made each room in their home a work of art. Native American collections and many paintings give the big rooms of the home a museum exhibit feel.
“I like to collect art. You know it’s true about starving artists, so we support them as often as we can,” he said.
The “support” appears fairly generous — they purchased many pieces from individual artists over a long period of time, sometimes buying from certain artists repeatedly.
Each of the three bathrooms contain tile work around the toilet, copper-lined showers and cedar wood
walls. Margereta did the tile work in whimsical flowers, patterns and even faces on rocks peeking out of the tiling. The porcelain sinks are works of art surrounded in elaborate tiling.
Margereta seems to possess a knack for sinks. Her husband can’t resist a door.
“I love building doors,” Lipinski said.
He used rough-sawed lumber to create wide, high doorways. The front door, 8-by-5, is announced by a dragon. A bathroom door holds a carved sockeye salmon, and another one a bear. A giant pull doorbell rings a 6-foot length of chimes in the hall. Lipinski built a tinkling water fountain into a wing. Beds in each room were made on the spot, along with a 500-pound dining table.
The 11,240-square-foot home is powered by three wind turbines Lipinski has named Thor, Thunder and Titan.
“I have a thing about T’s,” he said.
A separate building contains gauges, batteries and equipment for power generation, plus 24 two-volt batteries.
“I’m completely off the grid, where the house is concerned. Not so much for the RV park,” he added.
As for the future, the Lipinskis aim to be unencumbered by the time they leave their spot on the southern Kenai Peninsula.
“We don’t know where we’re going to settle,” Margareta said. “We like to travel in an RV, travel in the U.S. and find a nice place for us. He wants to make doors or cabinets and he wants to learn pottery. I will do my jewelry. We’ll incorporate it in the travel, into art shows. Nothing is waiting for us. We’ll see from there what we are going to do.”