• Homeowners make unusual move as they auction off an Alaskan lifestyle
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 off-the-grid and energy independence lifestyle.
“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 auctioned Saturday, Aug. 18. Beginning bids start at $1.
The five-story home took seven and 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 10.9 acre property, which he and his wife didn’t initially want to rent out because they were aimed primarily at creating a home.
Later, the Lipinski’s 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,” Robin said. “I’m going to throw my hat in the air, and which ever way the wind blows it, we’ll follow it.”
Like his larger-than-life house, Lipinski’s decades of life have been 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, logging, farming and working in the coast guard while Margareta worked on her art pieces. Lipinski’s quest for an Alaska property meant he went at it full steam into the research.
Eight years ago, it was Robin’s dream to live on an Alaska coast. The couple eyed places from Ketchikan and Homer. They found this property just north of Anchor Point, sitting just above Whiskey Gulch beach with a view of Mts. Iliamna and Redoubt 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 life boats 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.”
The finished house offers an artistic haven for the many talents of Margareta, a noted painter, potter, 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 Robin’s carpenter skills, the two of them 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, some repeatedly.
Each of the three bathrooms contain tile work around the toilet, copper lined showers and cedar wood walls. Margareta did the tile work in whimsical flowers, patterns, even faces on rocks peaking out of the tiling. The porcelain sinks are works of art surrounded in elaborate tiling.
Margareta 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 feet-tall by 5 feet-wide, is announced by a dragon. A bathroom door, 5-by-5 feet, holds a carved sockeye salmon and another one a bear. A giant-pull doorbell rings a six-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 gages, batteries and equipment for power generation, 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 Lipinski’s aim to be lighter weighted by the time they leave their heavenly 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.”
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