Cape Cod Cottage

Located on the south side of one of Central Minnesota’s most popular lakes, this 5-bedroom, 6.5 bath custom-built home is as striking as it is functional. On the lake side, the full three stories of this walk-out home open up to a picturesque shoreline view.

Boulder retaining walls flank three large decks that offer plenty of room for family gatherings, entertaining and outdoor living. Viewed from the street or the lake, inside or out, the architectural features of this Cape Cod-style cottage make it one of a kind.   

Family First

For many families, lake homes become a can’t-miss central gathering area. In the case of this home designed by Chris Hawley of Chris Hawley Architects, that theme certainly rings true. Constructed as a 4,660-square foot home to accommodate a large extended family, the year-round home serves as a gathering place during summers and holidays.

Radiant Homes of Fargo was commissioned to build the lakeside home. One of the company’s credos is to “build homes of unmatched quality and design.” The finished product was certainly on point.

David Reid, President of Radiant Homes, says, “Our team is integral to the success of projects such as this home.” David serves as project manager and works with superintendent Andy Strom and their crew of skilled craftsmen. The team did the framing, siding, decking, plywood flooring, and finish carpentry throughout the house.

The main level has an open floor plan that offers easy access to the upper and lower levels, as well as the dining room, living room and kitchen. The flooring is one area where Radiant Homes pinpointed an opportunity to give this home a unique sense of character. The team created custom-made flooring by cutting sheets of three-quarter inch birch plywood into 4-foot by 4-foot squares. Next, they beveled the edges, installed the squares with exposed fasteners and finished the floor in place.

Space for Serving

The kitchen, with its neutral palette and dramatic red accents, was designed by Michael Ste. Marie of Ste. Marie Design Group. This Saint Paul-based team focuses on “creating spaces that are mindful and unique.” Ste. Marie utilized this build as another opportunity to showcase the
kind of work this company has become known for.

White cabinets and white quartz countertops provide a subdued backdrop for the silver and white tile backsplash installed by Jacobson Tile and Stone of Detroit Lakes.

The cabinets were built by Fargo-based Braaten Cabinets, as were all the cabinets throughout the house. With extended family gatherings a frequent occurrence, a large center island became a critical component of the kitchen plan. Made of wood butcher block, the island is perfect for casual meals, while the table nearby is well-suited for more formal dining.

Convening in Comfort

When you think of cozy living rooms, it’s easy to picture a fireplace being the focal point. This home stays true to the standard definition of a comfortable gathering area, as a gas fireplace is one of the primary features. The surrounding stone, which contains shades of grey, is Chilton Country Manor. The solid limestone mantel is heavy, making the installation process a feat in itself.

“It took some considerable work and planning in getting the mantel installed,” Reid remembers. “There is a lot of steel backing in the wall, and holes were drilled in the back of the mantel to slide over steel rods to hold it in place.”

Perhaps the most striking feature of the main level is the ceiling. The curved railing used as part of a hallway upstairs also allows the dining room to be located under the vaulted ceiling. The curved railing is a trait of the home that adds a sense of drama upstairs and down.

Once again, with family gatherings taking high priority in the planning process of the home, a north-facing three-season porch provides another place for groups to congregate. It’s a section of the home that brings a refreshing cascade of light into the main-level living area. The barrel-vaulted ceiling is a striking architectural feature giving the space an open feel. Windows have a track system of vinyl-glazed sashes installed over screened openings. During warm-weather months, these can be raised to let in fresh air. As the Mercury drops, they can be lowered to keep out the rain, snow, or wind.

The flooring of the porch was constructed with AZEK building products, known for providing a beautiful aesthetic with a low-maintenance, durable material. AZEK is engineered to be a long-lasting alternative to traditional wood that has become increasingly popular with homeowners looking for a hassle-free deck or porch that maintains excellent visual appeal.

The lower level offers families separate areas for relaxing or entertaining guests. Featuring a “flex” space, the lower level includes a section that can be used for a game room. As the house fills with overnight guests, it can also be lined with bunk beds to accommodate the growing numbers.

Practical, Yet Polished

One of the most unique features on the lower level is a bathroom the family calls the “locker room.” This space features three vanities, two showers, and one toilet stall. Grandkids sleeping in nearby bunk beds have a handy bathroom that can be used by several kids at once, while maintaining privacy.

Once again, specialization in specific areas of the locker room help make this bathroom unique. A glance in this room will have you instantly drawn to the vanities, countertops and tile work. The vanities were purchased from Restoration Hardware. STC Flooring of Fargo installed the stunning tile. The beautiful countertops are made of Italian Carrara marble.

This striking Cape Cod cottage in Central Minnesota fulfills the promise of both architect and builder. The home is one of innovative design and unmatched quality that meets the unique needs of a large extended family. ~L&H


A Modern Home with a Natural Flair

Tucked away up on a hill looking down on Lake Brophy near Alexandria, Erika Johnson’s decidedly contemporary home makes a statement with its sharp corners and steel siding, mixed with touches of cedar and stucco. Dramatic decks and patios add to the modern lines of this secluded treasure.

Erika was personally involved with every tiny detail in the design of her home, including exactly how and where it sits on the 6.1 acre lot. Instead of directly facing the lake, it is off center at a slight angle that enhances her views of Lake Brophy and beyond.

“I never thought about building a house before this, but I’ve always been drawn to modern architecture,” says Erika, an OB/GYN who graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School. She lived in St. Paul and then Maui prior to moving to Alexandria 14 years ago, where her identical twin sister Sandi is also a doctor.

“I finally decided that I love the water and I love kayaking,” she says. “So why wasn’t I living on a lake, and what was I waiting for?”

After purchasing this undeveloped lot with more than 900 feet of shoreline in 2013, she spent the next couple years sketching out her design ideas – and changing her mind a multitude of times about the house she would build.

During that time, Sandi and her husband, who live on a nearby lake, lost their home to a fire and had to rebuild entirely.

“Watching my sister lose her home was awful, but then I watched them build a brand new place on the lake,” she says. Although she admits the twin sisters have totally different tastes and styles – Sandi’s house design is much more traditional – Erika turned to the same builder, Brian P. Johnson Construction. Throughout her sister’s building process, Erika became convinced that Brian would be the craftsman to help bring her contemporary home design to reality. “I had been carrying around these little pieces of paper with my little drawings for so long, and I finally decided I needed to move forward.”

To begin tackling the task of consolidating all those pieces of paper into a workable plan, Erika initially began working with a draftsman. Then Brian introduced her to an interior designer, Jill Stoeck from JS DESIGN whose 3D drawings allowed Erika to slowly see how those tiny pieces of paper would come to life.

“Jill and I played with it for more than a month, and unfortunately, I had to give up some of my loftier ideas, like the all-glass wall I had envisioned,” she says with a laugh. One of the benefits of working with Jill and the 3D design is that she was able to see the entire home complete both inside and out before even breaking ground. Using 3D design makes some decisions easier when homeowners can’t visualize the space. “The entire time I was making decisions on my home, however, there was one thing I was thinking about that I knew I wouldn’t give up: I wanted to make the entire house and grounds as environmentally friendly as possible.”

The home was completed in 2015, and in taking a closer look, signs of those “green” efforts are apparent. The installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system and energy-saving LED lights throughout the house are a couple examples. Furthermore, they used as many natural materials as possible, planted native grasses and flowers instead of a lawn, and, most recently, installed a series of solar panels.

A geothermal system, according to Jill, is a series of wells in an underground piping system, called a “loop.” Water circulates in that loop, taking advantage of the warm temperature of the underground water to heat the home in the winter, and the cooler underground water temperature to cool it in the summer. “These systems initially can be very expensive to install,” she says, “but they have long-term benefits both financially and environmentally.”

Ellingson’s hooked up the entire system to a TRANE furnace system to ensure dependable backup heat.

At 4,700 square feet with four bedrooms, 4 ½ baths, a screened-in porch, three additional decks, and a 3-car garage, the home got “way bigger” than Erika intended it to be, but the views are amazing, and it’s a “perfect” place to live, along with her mother and 16-year-old son.

In her research on energy savings, Erika found out the square contemporary look and design she envisioned would actually make the house more energy efficient.
“If you have too many ‘boxes’ in the design element, you can lose heat, so I decided, ultimately, to make it very square for that reason,” she says. “The squarer it is, the more efficient it is.”

Modern Touches

Because Jill was involved with Erika throughout the entire building process, she found that this homeowner’s heart was entirely into both the environment and the contemporary look of the house.

“One of the interior features that highlights the home’s modern tone is the cable rail system on the way,” she says. “Erika saw these distinctive stainless steel cables, with a maple handrail, in a magazine, and she showed it to Brian and asked if he could make it that way.”

Since he enjoys working on creative and unique stairways, Brian was up to the task. “It took special measuring and drilling, and lots of time to create that stairway just the way she wanted it,” he says, “but it truly gives the inside of the house a contemporary feel, it is one of my favorite parts of the home for me.”

They also created a modified version of that same cable rail system on two of the home’s decks, tying together the modern theme from inside to outside. One of those decks, facing the lake, is cantilevered out of the house on the lakeside with hidden structural beams. It appears to be sitting
straight out from the house, adding more drama to the contemporary style.

Erika’s love of the outdoors necessitated those numerous outdoor living spaces. There is also a screened porch off the kitchen area that is used for eating meals, and there is another unique deck on the second level that sits directly above her living room.

“Built over an interior ceiling, it has a glass railing with rubber pavers for the floor and cedar on the walls and ceiling,” Jill explains. “It’s still within the house ‘footprint,’ but it is outside. The views from this porch are incredible. This is very unique to the house and geographical area to have a porch over the interior of the home.”

Specialized Flooring

The quiet, forgiving and natural qualities of cork flooring appealed to Erika for the entire downstairs of the home. In her master bathroom shower upstairs, she also has a cork floor with a distinctive design that incorporates unusual little tiles of turtles and dragonflies that she brought back from Maui and are very special to her. Using a specific grout that would expand with the natural cork, those tiles were carefully imbedded into the cork floor for a sentimental look and feel.

The rest of the upstairs flooring is elm and all from the Wood from the Hood Program, which reclaims discarded trees from Minneapolis neighborhoods – “recycled from the Twin Cities urban forest” – to create wood products for environmentally sensitive building and remodeling.

Solar Energy

Erika’s desire to be as environmentally friendly as possible eventually led to the installation of solar panels after she moved in. “I didn’t initially consider solar panels, but the house used way more electricity than I initially estimated,” Erika explains. “I didn’t want my personal energy consumption to be that high, and with the solar panels, it should reduce the energy burden by more than half – we’re hoping for a 3/5 reduction.”

Natural Grasses

Environmental concerns also led Erika to the grounds around the house. One of the most amazing elements of this property is the native grasses and flowers.

“I’m working with Prairie Restoration on native planting with native grasses, bushes and wildflowers,” she says. “Most of this acreage is either woods or wetland, and of the area that used to be wild grass, more than half will now be native prairie.”

Erika admits that it’s “sort of odd” to have this modern house on property that will have all native grasses, but eliminating a lawn to mow and establishing the prairie grasses are higher priorities for her. Those prairie grasses are in the first year of the five years it will take until they’re completely established, when her “yard” will actually resemble the look of an old-fashioned prairie.

“Most of this property isn’t seen by anyone else,” Erika adds. “You wouldn’t even know there’s a house back there when you approach the area, and nobody can see my lot until they turn into the long, private driveway. The whole prairie grass look isn’t for passersby – it’s for the birds, butterflies and bees!”

This project was very unique according to the builder, Brian, and designer, Jill. They both find it extremely gratifying to see Erika and her family in their new home, surrounded with the love of nature and the preservation of the environment. ~L&H


Maud Lake Marvel

by Jackie Jenson | Photography by Henry Hempel

On a winding road framed by tall swaying trees and glistening lake views, sits the distinctive lake home of Dave and Mary Morinville. Situated on a gently sloping lot on the sunset side of Maud Lake in Becker County, the Morinville abode is more than a weekend getaway, says its owner. It is a family retreat with generational roots.

“My family has been coming to this spot for more than 80 years. My grandfather bought the original lot back in 1932,” explains Dave Morinville.

Once an adjoining 50-foot lot was added, a plan for a new home came sharply into focus, says the Morinville’s and with the help of bhh Partners, Planners/Architects, their lake home dreams soon became reality.

Quartz countertops and barn wood floors warm the kitchen filled with all life’s modern necessities.

“When we decided to build, we needed a little more space. We bought the lot next door and found a way to have the cabins removed for a nominal cost,” explains Mary Morinville. Having previously built two homes, the Morinville’s were looking to do something a little bit different with this house. Tapping Tomlinson & Sons for their construction needs and daughter/designer Sara Kiedrowski to add cohesive design touches, soon everything began to take shape.

“We wanted to create a home, not a showplace,” offers Mary.

“We wanted a place for our kids and their families to hang out,” shares Dave Morinville. “Sara helped capture the look we were hoping to achieve.”

Next up though, the entire team would need to work together.

“I recognized we were in great hands after Dana Tomlinson took me aside to show me some of Sara’s 3D cupboard renderings which he said were fantastic,” relays Dave Morinville. “At this point, I knew everything would work out.”

Taking their daughter’s design suggestions to heart, the Morinville’s were able to accomplish one of their major goals with their home build: infuse as much of an old cabin character as they could into their newly enlarged dream home.

The open plan of the main living spaces keep light flowing through the home while beams, posts and a change in color denote a separation of the rooms.
The open plan of the main living spaces keep light flowing through the home
while beams, posts and a change in color denote a separation of the rooms.

Filled with numerous modern finishes such as quartz kitchen countertops, reclaimed tobacco barn woods floors, and master bath with tile flooring and in-floor heating, the true charm of the Morinville’s Maud Lake home is its many nods to its nostalgic past ─ starting with how it sits on the lot. This serene lake home has been crafted to look like it has been placed on its perch for decades.

“It was important for the house to look like it belonged here,” shares Sara. “We did not want it to look out of place, like a house you’d find on a city block or the Florida beach.”

The Morinvilles achieved the home’s vintage exterior look via earth tone color palette and a craftsman style combination of siding materials including horizontal lap, shingle siding and timeless timber accents, notes bhh architect Tony Stoll. The floor plan itself also played a big role in recreating the past. Meeting all their wish list criteria while utilizing the shallow lot where the house would ultimately sit actually provided a unique design “bend or break”, notes Stoll thus adding interest to their roadside roost.

Preserving memories all the while creating a place for new ones was a must for the building project. In addition to the home’s classic exterior look, the Morinville residence is filled with numerous black and white photos, each capturing a timeless family memory that occurred at the lake

“It was important for the house to look like it belonged here.” — Sara Kiedrowski

Keeping history alive at the lake, though, was a truly serious concern for the Morinvilles, Sara notes. For instance, they included elements from their old cabin sun room.

“We incorporated knotty pine paneling and used salvaged stone for the fireplace surround from the stone that was recovered on the property when the old cabins were removed,” describes Sara. “We even had the sun room screen door set to slam just like our old one did. That is how serious we were about keeping things reminiscent of the old cabin.”


The Family Plan

The Family Plan
by Patricia Carlson

When Justin Heiser’s parents semi-retired and purchased some land on Maple Lake, they smartly invested in some extra space. The idea was to create a haven for their three children, Justin, Amber and Brittni, and their growing families.

The only problem? Everyone was living in campers when they visited the lake, which is just south of Alexandria.
“We were out there on the weekends in the campers,” says Justin, Senior Vice President of Pharmacy for Thrifty White Pharmacy. “Fortunately, we were not living there full time.”

“I wouldn’t have been able to handle that,” adds wife Abby, with a laugh.

To make matters more complicated, Abby, Amber and Brittni were all pregnant at the same time.
“The babies are all three months apart,” says Abby, a remote executive assistant for the founder of Clinical Supplies Management in Fargo. “One of us was three months pregnant and the others six and nine months. All little boys.”

Needless to say, something had to change with all the little bambinos running around. “I think we really enjoyed being out there and it was really great because one of my sisters lives in Fargo and the other lives in the Cities. Seeing the cousins getting to play together and be positive influences on each other on the weekends, it became apparent to Abby and I that we wanted something more permanent,” explains Justin. “We saw ourselves coming out here for years to come.”

The Heiser siblings all started to look for spaces of their own on Maple Lake. Justin, Amber and Brittni found three lots all next to each other on the land their parents owned. The family plan was working.

What to Build
Aside from knowing they wanted to build a permanent second residence on Maple Lake, Justin and Abby didn’t really know how to tackle a project that big. So, they did what any web-savvy person with an interest in home building or renovating does nowadays, they turned to Houzz, an online platform for home design and remodeling.

Houzz features real-life layouts, architecture, remodeling and interior design projects, complete with manufacturer, pricing and shopping information. The couple compiled folder after folder of images and ideas of the type of home they’d like to create. Together, they sketched an idea out and brought it to Phil and Jon Haabala of Haabala Construction Inc., in Alexandria.

“They had a bunch of pictures they were showing me of things they liked,” says Jon. “We took their ideas and had a draftsman draw it up for us. We looked at how we’d fit it on the lot and how they wanted everything to work. It was pretty simple.”

Justin puts it another way, “Jon was very patient with us.”

Key Architectural Features
Justin and Abby, whose main residence is in Maple Grove, had several key architectural features they wanted incorporated into their new lake home.
An open floor plan was paramount considering the amount of family and friends the Heisers would be entertaining, especially with relatives right next door. “Our home in Maple Grove is very open and what we love about that is when we have a lot of family get-togethers, people can be throughout the house but still feel like we are together,” says Abby.

The home features an incredibly large main room that opens to the kitchen. It has a magnificent wood ceiling with exposed beams and distressed wood flooring, perfect for hiding any scratches made by the family Weimaraner dog. Adjacent to the kitchen is a separate grill and bar area with wood shiplap on the walls and ceiling. The big sell of this room is the pellet-burning smoker complete with its own hood. “The large hood sucks so much air out we had to put a make up air unit in,” laughs Justin.

Indoor-outdoor capabilities were a must, too. Although the Heisers love the outdoors and the views their Maple Lake cabin would provide, they did not want to be chased inside by the elements like mosquitos and bitter cold. They settled on a three-tier system. Off the main floor with access points from the great room and the master bedroom is a proper deck. Exterior steps then lead down to a paver patio that runs along the entire rear of the home. Just inside the paver patio is a dynamic throwback porch complete with retro-looking beadboard, exposed aggregate flooring that mimics pebbles in a lake, wood-burning fireplace and adjustable paneled windows that can completely open to the outside or remain closed.

Finally, the Heisers wanted their home to fit a growing family. The couple already has one child, Jaxson who turned 3 in January, and they are hoping to add a sibling soon. Therefore, Justin and Abby built two basement bedrooms. “We’ve already been able to use it that way when we have friends out to the lake,” says Justin.

Cape Cod Cool Meets Minnesota Masculine
Narrowing down the design aesthetic proved the most difficult challenge for the couple.
“Initially what we were going for was a Cape Cod or East Coast theme,” explains Abby. “But during the process we learned we love that style and look but we also love the Minnesota lake feel. What we ended with is a Cape Cod and Minnesota blend.”

You can see the influence of both styles throughout the home. Dark wood on floors and ceilings are juxtaposed with white cabinetry in the kitchen and bathrooms. Furniture and accessories from Pottery Barn used throughout the home bring the mixed look together.

But the large multi-use room off the kitchen (it stores the pantry, office space, laundry room, and dog kennel) is entirely the couple’s unique idea. The couple cannot stand clutter. “Everything has a place,” says Abby. They wanted a room where they could block out any blemishes to an otherwise spotless home.
“We wanted a space for our offices but we didn’t want to dedicate a whole room for it. And when you come home from the grocery store and your arms are full and company is coming you can drop it in there and shut the doors,” explains Justin.
The final piece of maximizing their Minnesota lake cabin is their two-story garage. The couple has a main floor three-stall garage and a tuck-under garage of the same size that can only be accessed from the rear of the home. “A three stall garage can fill up pretty quickly in the wintertime with boats and snowmobiles and vehicles,” says Justin. “All the lake toys and backyard toys and inner tubes and Jaxson’s toys for the sandbox are all stored down below.”

Despite all the space and amenities their lakeside retreat provides, don’t be surprised if you find the Heisers relaxing in their porch most of the time. Justin and Abby both count this vintage-looking gem as their favorite space and Jaxson loves to make s’mores by the fire.

Now that Justin’s parents are finally building a house on Maple Lake, too, the whole family will have their own lakeside abodes. Quite the family plan, indeed. ~L&H


Simplicity Rules

Simplicity Rules
by Merrie Sue Holtan

“Lake Rules: Laugh often. Flip flops mandatory. Relax. THANK THE COOK. No spilling on the pontoon. Put out the fire. Enjoy the company.”

This hand-painted sign welcomes visitors (many visitors) to the Little Detroit Lake home of Jody and Jim Nelson, third generation farmers from Casselton, North Dakota. Corn and bean farmers on weekdays, the Nelsons pack their car and head to the lake nearly every summer weekend. The two-story, 3000 square foot Craftsman-style home has been built for hospitality, with high entertainment value and low maintenance.

Jody, a partner in the farm operation, says “farming is in their blood,” and during harvest she cooks two meals a day for 40 days to feed farmhands. Her love of cooking “large” spills over at the lake, as the couple often entertains a great group of lake friends and family. The Nelson’s son, Grant and wife, Shera also farm with the Nelsons, and daughter Kelly and husband Brock farm near Wimbleton, North Dakota.

“The lake has become our place to entertain summer weekends until Labor Day,” Jody says. “Sometimes it’s 35 people. We love getting away from the farm to be social.”

The couple first rented a small cabin on the lake in 2007 and then bought a cabin in 2011. They tore down the original cabin, built their new house in 2014, and moved in during the summer of 2015.

The plan
When looking for house ideas, Jody and Jim drove around several lakes, took photos of houses and created floor plans. They took the preliminary plans to Fargo architect, Craig Helenske, at Helenske Design Group, who became a partner in the design. They had 50 feet of shore front to work with, which moved back in a pie shape to 90 feet.

“We knew with a smaller lot, we needed to build up,” Jody says. “I knew the style I wanted, and I loved covered porches, so we designed three, two down and one up. We love to sit outside when it’s raining.”
The couple also spends a month in Florida each winter, and fell in love with tropical home designs, décor and colors.

Jody remembers walking back and forth in front of one Florida house they admired.

“The woman homeowner finally asked us if we wanted to come in and take pictures,” Jody says. “We knew it would be the perfect home size for our lot. She even gave us her paint samples.”

The Nelsons wanted to keep the home simple and as carefree as possible without having to be stressed by high maintenance.

“This lake house needed to seem bright and airy, lakey,” Jody says, “Different from our farm home, a ranch style, which feels cozy.”

The couple wants guests to be met by the lake view, especially the sunsets. Six floor- to- ceiling lake side windows accomplish this mission. Skye Fingalson, from I’ll Tile in Detroit Lakes, became a partner in designing the home’s interior. She suggested the top down bottom up, efficient window treatments. Skye and Jody coordinated the paint colors in the house reflecting shades of brown, beige and a few Florida blues, greens and corals for variety.

“We had the best time working together,” Skye says, “We walked through each room, and Jody knew how she wanted it decorated, not trendy, but suited to her tastes, her family and guests. I provided ideas and samples.”
In the master bath, Skye designed a high backsplash in the shower, a recessed shelf and in-shower mirror at Jim’s height, because he likes to shave while showering. She also worked with the Nelson’s daughter and daughter –in- law to decorate the two family guest rooms upstairs.

“I told Skye, I wanted something different from the farm,” says Nelson daughter, Kelly Mutschler. “It was fun to spend time in the overall design of the house. The covered porch towards the lake is my favorite spot.”

The cook is in
Close to the front entry, Jody designed a combined laundry room, mud room and built in kennel for Dolly, a German Wirehair, who also loves fishing and lake life. Also near the entry, a built in pantry holds supplies organized for pontoon trips.

Top down, bottom up windows are also featured on the screen porch near the entry. Decorated in cedar paneling, this comfortable spot allows Jim to enjoy reading his favorite author, Louis LaMoure, while avoiding windy days on the lake side.

The open kitchen features three serving areas and two dining tables.

“We have all porcelain flooring, in brown tones, which looks like wood in the downstairs living area,” Jody says. “It absolutely will not scratch which is important especially for our dog and grand dog.”

The center granite island has a darker “busier” design in granite while the peninsula, which can seat six people, and bar sink and counter tops are topped in a lighter color quartz. These complement the maple kitchen cabinets, and Jody says the space allows for great conversation spaces.

“I use the island to serve food, and while I’m in the kitchen guests can come to the bar counter for their beverages,” Jody says. “I like my own space to work in the kitchen and this makes it possible. I love working at my new farm-style sink.”

The beverage counter includes Total brand beverage drawers and a Total ice maker. The refrigerator is a Sub Zero, with a Sub Zero freezer located in the laundry room. Jody also loves her Thermador stove because it is fast with induction heat, safer and easy to keep clean.

The living area
Hebron Brick provided the natural stone used in the living area fireplace and in the outside entry. Jody uses colorful work by local artists such as painter, Kim Jore, to dot the walls of the living area.

A large television near the fireplace allows guests to all watch the game from anywhere in the kitchen or living areas. A brick patio facing the lake complete with the indoor, outdoor sound system and Jim’s grill, provides guests with one more entertainment venue, a stunning view of the lake, and easy access to the lakefront and pontoon rides.

Canned lights, which Jody added to avoid cleaning light fixtures, dot the white Florida/tropical-style ceiling of the main room. The few chandelier lights they utilized in the design came from Fergusons and Valley Lights in Fargo.
Around the corner from the living area, the master bedroom has Tommy Bahama décor, and the master bath features an Italian soaking tub, and pops of colorful orange, Jody’s favorite color.

The second floor has two guest bedrooms and a dorm room to sleep four people. The California style shared bathroom has an actual rock floor designed by Jody.

“We eliminated a closet in the dorm room to allow space for more guests,” Jody says. “Another space functions as a den, and we have many other nooks and crannies providing excellent storage space. We also kept the French doors from the old cabin to keep a part of the past.”
Son Grant and wife, Shera, can’t wait to come to the cabin on Friday after work.

“Everyone says our room has the best view,” Shera says. “I never get tired of looking out over the lake on warm summer mornings. It’s also a great place for a fall and winter getaway.”

“For me our lake cabin is a sanctuary,” says daughter, Kelly. “I like to come during the week when it is more calm and peaceful. It has allowed us to have wonderful mother, daughter and family time.” ~L&H


A Home to Grow Into

A Home to Grow Into
by Patricia Carlson

With its lush front yard, inviting porch, oversized windows, and charming blue front door, Polly Merickel and Jim Poe’s lake home near Lake Melissa in Detroit Lakes might give the outward impression that it’s like any other summer retreat. This cabin, however, has a hidden purpose. One that is meant to help the couple heal from an accident that derailed their retirement plans.

The Accident
Polly, originally from Wadena, met her husband while working as the Deputy Chief of Institutions for the San Diego County Department of Probation. She’d moved to California after several years with the Minnesota Department of Corrections and met Jim, a San Diego local, who was the Assistant Chief of Probation for the same county department. Their shared career path in the criminal justice system brought them together and they’ve now been together for 32 years, married for 26 of them.

Jim, 10 years older than Polly, retired first. An avid motorcycle enthusiast, Jim was on an incredible road trip through Death Valley National Park with friends when he was involved in a horrific accident. He was life-flighted to Las Vegas and spent six months in hospitals and rehabilitation centers recuperating. “He’s lucky to be alive,” says Polly.

Initially, Jim was confined to a wheelchair, then he graduated to a walker, and now he uses a cane. Progress has been slow and Jim still struggles with balance and mobility. “His left leg works a little bit and his left arm has a little movement,” explains Polly. “They call it partial paralysis.”

At the time of the accident, the couple split their time between a home in San Diego (the same house Jim has owned for 40 years) and a cabin on Lake Melissa. Polly’s twin sister, Peggy, had lived there for many years and Polly and Jim were regular summer visitors. A couple of years after Polly retired, she and Jim purchased their first lake home.

That home, though, wasn’t built or equipped to help Jim or Polly deal with his disability. He required more safety and comfort measures and she needed space to relax and regroup from her care taking duties.

In April 2015, less than 50 feet from their existing home, another house was put up for sale. “I decided to buy the lot and last September [2015] I had the original house demolished,” explains Polly.

If she and Jim had to rebuild their retirement lives, they were going to do it from the ground up.

The Build
The time following Jim’s accident gave Polly great perspective on what their new home needed.

“What we realized is that things like taking a shower or moving from room to room needed to be built to make our lives easier. I needed to reduce the possibility as much as I could that Jim would injure himself further,” says Polly. “I started looking at websites that talked about ideas for mobility and had tools to make our lives easier.”

The idea for the Lake Melissa cabin was pretty specific: find a home that she and Jim could age into. She found a generic one-page house plan and got to work. She asked Jim, family and neighbors for input. She tirelessly searched online for other similar homes that had incorporated tools and tricks for people with mobility issues and didn’t become overwhelmed by those often sterile-looking devices.

Finally, Polly settled on a rough blueprint and sought the advice of one of her brother Harry’s best friend, Dave Erwin of Dave Erwin Construction in Battle Lake.

Dave, a seasoned contractor of high end homes, was eager to tackle the project. “This was a challenge because we had to think in detail about how Jim would function in a given situation,” says Dave. “When he comes into a room, how and where would he enter it? Where will his body position go? We really needed to make everything handicapped functional without it looking handicapped.”

There were several architectural elements that Polly and Dave agreed upon before breaking ground. One requirement was wide passageways throughout the home, including the kitchen. Thirty-six inch wide doorways that could accommodate a wheelchair. They also settled on oversized windows that would bring in tons of natural light. Strategically placed and aesthetically pleasing grab bars and mobility devices, as well as eliminating thresholds. And two areas specifically for relaxation – a large garage for Jim (“I kept using the term ‘man cave’,” says Dave) and an upstairs yoga retreat for Polly.
Construction began in September, 2015 and was completed nine months later in June, 2016.

“It was one of the least stressful experiences of my life,” says Polly. “This is really my dream house. When it came down to it, when someone gave me a great idea and I liked it, I went with it because I trusted Dave and his teams. This is the only house I’ve built and the only one I’ll ever build.”

The Little Things
The 3,000 square foot home emulates the style, patterning and mixing of materials you might find in a coastal home on the East coast. “It’s like Hampton chic,” explains Dave. “There is very little sheetrock in the house.”

Instead, Dave and his team concentrated on quality wood, paneling and shiplap to give the home a warm, textural feel. Dark hardwood floors used in the majority of the home are given life with bright, white paneled walls and the occasional painted accent wall, like the one in Polly’s yoga retreat. The guest bedroom accomplishes the opposite, using a dark chocolate accent wall to offset its white wood walls and ceiling.

The spacious kitchen and living room share a large, open space and wide walkways capped with exposed beams and framed by rows of windows. One of the most striking visual aspects of Polly and Jim’s home is its clean lines and spartan use of accessories. You won’t find a throw rug in the kitchen or a dangling cord from any television – Jim’s cane could get stuck in them. There are no table lamps. Chairs, stools and benches tuck under tables or counters. The master bathroom shower has no lip and no door or curtain. The bedrooms don’t even have dressers.
The closets are smartly designed to store all clothing needs.

“I did not want a lot of clutter around,” says Polly. “After living in our old lake home with Jim we both knew what we wanted now and in the future for our new home.”

It’s a testament to the planning that Polly, Dave and his teams did that visitors rarely notice the grab bars and other mobility tools that are incorporated throughout the house. The colors all match the other fixtures in the room – bronze in the bathroom, white in the bedroom.

Polly and Jim still plan to spend the winter in San Diego, but you can bet when they return to their Lake Melissa retreat each summer, it will feel like a home they can definitely grow into together for a long time to come. ~L&H


Practical Magic

Practical Magic – A Rustic Gathering Place on Fish Lake
by Alicia Underlee Nelson

Jeanie Rasche has a message for anyone who wants to build a home: “If you have the right people working for you, you can do it on your own.” Jeanie and her husband Steve didn’t use an architect to build their dream home on Fish Lake near Windom, Minnesota. But that doesn’t mean the couple didn’t have help.

They had their lumberyard draw up their plans. They worked with a trusted builder. And they had faith that a team of artisans and craftsmen would make their dream lake home a reality in just over nine months.

When their neighbors packed up their vehicles after Labor Day celebrations in 2015, they drove by a small cabin the family had long outgrown. When they arrived for Memorial Day the following spring, a modern yet rustic home stood in its place.
The Rasche family is a blended one, so the most important goal of the new home was to create a place for the whole family to gather together. When Jeanie and Steve married, he had three daughters (Alexa, Michaela and Maddie) and she had a son, Jake. They later had two daughters, Claire and Emma, together.

“We have two out of school and married, two in college and two at home,” Jeanie says. “They range in age from almost 30 down to 10, so we have a big range coming and going. It was nice to have a place where we could just be here and they could come and go.”

And the family just keeps growing. Alexa married Anthony and Michaela married Mike and now both couples are expecting babies this winter.

The couple envisioned a home that would offer plenty of space and also meet their family’s changing needs. The floor plan is anchored by two main living spaces, a communal area that holds the great room, dining room and kitchen on one side and a two story sleeping space that contains the master suite, a large bunkroom and two additional bedrooms on the other. The set-up allows for both raucous sleepovers and napping babies.

The home’s two main living areas are connected by a glass corridor that allows the eye to sweep through the structure and out across the lake. A paver stone patio and a pergola crafted from reclaimed barn wood beams create a gracious al fresco dining and living space with soothing water views.

Walls of windows inside the home welcome the outdoors in. Rasche says that the family’s first few days in their new home felt a bit like living in a house of glass, so they added electric window shades from Carey’s Electronics in Spencer, Iowa to gain a little privacy without sacrificing the clean, pared-down look they loved.

“We took a trip to Napa Valley recently for my birthday and I was really inspired by some of the architecture and the elements there,” said Jeanie. “Some of the beams and the stonework and the woodwork are a direct reflection of that influence.”

Builders Lance Freking and Jeremy Fuller of Central Construction, Inc. in Nelson, Minnesota, helped the couple turn their vision into reality. He’d already built a home and barn for them in nearby Heron Lake, so they already knew they worked well as a team.

For the builders to be efficient, the Rasches needed to be decisive. They chose design elements and finishes that evoke a feeling of solidarity, durability and history whenever possible. The result is a home that combines clean, modern lines and earthy textures and materials for a timeless, rugged appeal.

The home’s cement floors are complimented by matching rugs from Restoration Hardware. Blue Ox Timber in Alexandria sourced the exposed beams along the soaring great room ceiling from the same Minnesota barn that provided the wood for the outdoor pergola. They offer both an arresting focal point for the communal living area and a soothing sense of repletion throughout the home, both inside and out.

The home’s color scheme is muted, an intentionally neutral palette that echoes elements from the natural world. Jeanie focused her love of color into a few specific areas (a set of shelves here, throw pillows for a pop of holiday cheer there), a move that allowed her to take a break from decorating and let the distinctive design elements in the home speak for themselves.
But she let her imagination run wild when it was time to choose lighting elements. “I am a lighting freak,” she says with laugh. “I’m a fanatic. You can make such a big statement with lighting.” From a statement piece in a bedroom to the hand blown glass globes in a bathroom, each room features a unique showpiece or two that Jeanie carefully sourced from Arteriors, Hammers and Heels, Circa Lighting and Hudson Valley Lighting.

The timeless look Jeanie and Steve wanted for other elements in the home required an old-fashioned kind of bespoke craftsmanship. Whitewashed shiplap paneling combines the warmth and historical look of wood with a pale color that worked with the home’s neutral color scheme. Over grouted stonework by Al Jurgens of Jurgens Construction in Windom makes the home seem it’s been a fixture on Fish Lake for generations instead of just a few months.

Welder Nate Vortherms fabricated the distinctive fireplace, kitchen hood and the railing around the staircase. “He did an amazing job of seeing my vision,” Jeanie says. Nate and his father Dick Vortherms of Dick’s Welding in Windom collaborated on other projects, including hooks to attach optional privacy curtains on the outdoor entertaining area. “They did a lot of really necessary things, but also designed elements that are really beautiful to look at,” says Jeanie.

The practical beauty of the family’s new home makes it feel welcoming, not fussy. “We wanted things to be durable and comfortable,” says Jeanie. “When people come in, we didn’t want them to have to worry about tracking in sand.”

And they do come in. Fish Lake is the kind of place where families go for generations, where the 4th of July fireworks show is a cherished tradition and neighbors pop their heads in the door to ask if you need anything from the store before they head out. It’s a busy lake, deep, cool and clear, with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. And the Rasche family is right in the thick of things, swimming and paddle boarding, fishing with the kids, sailing and kayaking with the neighbors.

The sense of community was one thing that initially attracted Steve to Fish Lake. But the proximity to real life – the couple’s farm about 20 minutes away in Heron Lake – made Jeanie wonder if it could really feel like a vacation spot. “I thought it was far too close to home to ever feel like we could truly relax,” she says. But she finally conceded Steve was right. “It’s amazing when you drive down here. It just feels like you’re going to a whole different place.”

It is a place for connecting, for pulling up a chair, pouring a glass of wine and sitting down for a meal at the long wooden table. “The heart of the home is definitely the great room on the communal side,” Jeanie says. “At home, we don’t always have time to sit down at the table. And here we really wanted to make it impossible to anything but that.”

Now when the family gathers, it’s mindful and intentional, in a space designed just for them. “For us, the idea of building this was about bringing our family together and having a common space they can all come to,” Jeanie explains. “We really did it for our kids. We really did it for our family life. It’ll be something we can pass on as our legacy.” ~L&H


A Woods and Water Retreat

A Woods and Water Retreat on Idyllic Island Lake
by Jackie Jenson

What is your dream home away from home?

For North Dakota native Ron McMartin, Jr., it is a peaceful retreat of lake and woods, something dissimilar to his prairie abode and ag-business base in Grand Forks.

“I really wanted to find a lake getaway that was different from home which is wide open and where all the roads are squared up. Here they [the roads] are winding and tree-filled,” says McMartin. “But isn’t that what you want from your vacation home; something completely different?” he asks.

Once situated on Lake Melissa in Becker County, McMartin, who hails from the small farming community of St. Thomas, North Dakota, decided a few years back that he wanted to be more off the grid with regards to his life on the lake. With a killer view, a couple of cabins, and 50+ acres of woods and water, his current lake residence fulfills that desire perfectly.
McMartin first heard about Island Lake one night over a casual conversation with friends. During the course of the discussion, he simply posed the question, “Which is considered the best lake in Becker County?”

The reply, to his surprise, was quick.

“My friend said, ‘Hands down, Island Lake’.”

Spring fed with a couple of outlets and not having much of a year round population, it was an idyllic lake in Ron’s eyes. Next, on the agenda then was to find the perfect property. After discovering a 53-acre parcel along the southwest shores of Island Lake, his lake retreat ideas now had their starting point.

Previously owned by Joyce Warner of Detroit Lakes and later maintained by a trust upon her passing, the property consisted of 38-acres lakeside and a 15-acre back lot. Filled with woods, wetlands, ponds, and gentle hills, it also came complete with two small cabins.

“I bought this property from a trust in 2007,” notes McMartin. “I really enjoy the quietness of it.”

A true work in process, McMartin has been slowly carving out various trails and building sites for the better part of a decade. Technology has aided in that endeavor, allowing McMartin to divide his time between his home in Grand Forks and his ever expanding property on Island Lake which now includes a shop, garage, the two freshly remodeled cabins, a tavern and numerous paved paths through the woods.

According to McMartin, it was a team effort with regards to his many building projects.

“I have had great help along the way,” remarks McMartin. “Pete Theilen of Foltz buildings introduced me to carpenter Steve Swanson and several of the other contractors that worked on the shop and eventually were used in other parts of the property.

Drawing on a plethora of local talent such as Stenerson Lumber, Malstrom Electric, Winter Masonry, and Stan Seaberg Heating-Plumbing, Land Elements of Fargo who designed much of the landscaping / patio projects that Lakes Area Landscaping implemented, and interior finishes from Skye Fingalson of I’ll Tile and Stone, McMartin’s dream lake escape has uniquely taken shape over the course of nine years, and he couldn’t be happier.

Build Two: The Cabins
After the shop build, McMartin went on to tackle the property’s two existing cabins in 2010. Situated on the shores of Island Lake, one was built circa 1904 and the other in 1972. Nestled along 1500-feet of picturesque shoreline, one of his main concerns with the cabin renovations was to keep each structure’s distinctive character.

“The one cabin [the 1904 cottage] was a total tear down. It had a sturdy fireplace but the foundation was literally falling away from it and sinking into the ground,” notes McMartin.

Due to setbacks and various waterfront building restrictions, McMartin had to follow footprint of the old 1904 cabin which was 25-foot by 25-foot. To optimize the constrained space, he added a decked-out galley kitchen; unique, vertical-stacking fireplace; and a hydraulic-powered staircase that can be quickly lifted to afford more entertaining space.

Ron’s favorite detail though – after the amazing galley kitchen which he notes provides more space than kitchens twice its size and an extremely convenient, 5-foot crawlspace – is a door-less, walk-in in shower with rustic river rock tile floor.
“I’ll never go back to a door on a shower again. It is just perfect,” says McMartin.

The 1972 “cozy cabin” as McMartin refers to it, is located just a few yards from the 1904 cabin. It is a vintage gem with low-hanging, tiled-ceiling; classic stone fireplace; smaller windows and knotty pine walls. Combined, the various nostalgic elements exude a true north woods look and feel, allowing Ron’s guests to step comfortably back in time.

Says McMartin, “My daughters love this cabin because it is easy to close the curtains and get a great sleep any time of the day. It is very peaceful.”

Build Three: Gator Garage
Continuing to transform his lake refuge, McMartin next added a garage and a fleet of John Deere Gator, side by side, all-terrain vehicles which he uses to get around his heavily-wooded property. Utilizing a variety of well-constructed, concrete trails that crisscross his Island Lake retreat, the Gators provide easy transport to and from the lake and the property’s many on-site structures.

Build Four: The Tavern
One of McMartin’s favorite buildings, affectionately known as the Sugar Hill Tavern, wrapped construction in the fall of 2014. According to McMartin, it is the best place to watch Bison football games. With its 20-foot vaulted knotty pine ceiling, 10-foot side walls, commercial-grade kitchen for party prep and a set of his and her bathrooms, it is also a retreat within a retreat.

With its belted ceiling fans, hand-selected antiques, large bar and set of specially made Napa Valley wine barrel bar tables on wheels that can reconfigured to keep things as social as possible, the tavern is a place where everyone feels relaxed and at home.

Even the tavern’s bathrooms lend a feeling of nostalgia to the newly constructed watering hole. Complete with a set of copper sinks; black river bottom granite countertops; and high tank toilets; the vintage looking restrooms give the tavern a truly ‘aged beyond its years’ look.

Then there is the giant stuffed bison watching over tavern patrons.

A graduate of North Dakota State University, it is fitting that the NDSU mascot would find its way into McMartin’s tavern. Affixed just above a set of impressive double doors near the back of the woodsy drinking establishment, the bison shoulder mount transforms the tavern from posh drinking space to cozy dive bar in the wink of an ever watchful eye.

“It took a long time to get [the bison mount], but it was worth it,” adds McMartin.

As a bonus, the many different woods used to create the tavern’s warm interior – a cherry bar top, pine flooring, as well as chocolate-stained white oak wainscoting – come directly from McMartin’s own backyard. Carefully plucked out of his woods to do the least amount of damage, the local wood was also milled just down the road in Ponsford, Minn.

“With all that wood, we really have to watch the humidity, keeping it at about 35-percent year round so nothing buckles. That means adding moisture in the winter and sucking it out in the summer,” notes McMartin.

A true lover of wood, McMartin added he can’t wait until his cedar shakes get an aged, grey patina look because although the tavern is buried in the leaf-filled summer woods, it is visible from the road in the winter.

“I want it to look likes it been here a while. Soon it will all just blend in.”

The woods which McMartin hopes his tavern will blend into, are a mixture of pine, basswood, birch, oak and a whole lot of maple, about 80-percent, which helped coax Ron into a new hobby: making maple syrup.

“Dan and Fran Fry introduced me to it. They are an amazing couple across the lake. They use to watch over the property for Joyce and then her trust,” says McMartin. “They are local and help me keep on top of things still. They also take pride in making sure the area is kept up.”

To celebrate the opening of his tavern, Ron’s daughters had a special Sugar Hill Tavern Hamm’s Beer sign made for their dad. Displayed above the double doors on the bars exterior, it lights up at night and shows the way to the tavern from the bonfire pit.

McMartin notes, “I love neon signs, and bar signs in general. I love the Hamm’s beer signs the best. It seems like every great dive bar has one hanging in it. They just had such great advertising campaigns through the years, so there is lots of great stuff out there.”

In addition to indoor spaces, McMartin has couple of bonfire pit getaways for guests to enjoy the outdoors as well. One is stationed lakeside between his two, newly remodeled cabins and the other is located behind the tavern. The latter sits between two still ponds, one of which has a light up fountain that illuminates the woods at night.

“It’s quiet and still out there but no mosquitoes thanks to the Mosquito Squad,” says McMartin, who speaks highly of the local mosquito busting business.

Thanks to “the squad” Ron notes his last big gathering went off without a hitch; no mosquitoes in site.

Build Five?
Sometime in the future, McMartin is plans to build a lake home for his Island Lake hideaway. The prairie-native turned lake-enthusiast notes when he eventually does build his lake home; it will be tucked into his beloved woods.

Skye Fingalson, who has been working with McMartin on his various builds for more than six years, helping him with interior finish and décor choices, notes she is looking forward to seeing what McMartin has imagined for his eventual lake home.

“We started working with Ron in 2010 when he was redoing the 1904 cabin and just kept on working on additional projects just as he has,” explains Fingalson. “I can’t wait to work with him on the house.”

At this point, though, the home build is a future endeavor. Currently McMartin’s is focused on enjoying the summer sunsets over the water, watching Bison football games in his tavern and tapping his maple trees in the spring. In short, it is time to take advantage of the simple pleasures the woods and water have to offer.

“It’s time to take a little break from construction,” concludes McMartin. “It’s time to enjoy some of this.”

Lifeform LED

Grab your visitors' attention front and center on your homepage, then give them an action to take.

Get Started

Contact Info

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

+1 650-253-0000

Daily: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sunday: Closed

Copyright 2016 © All Rights Reserved