When you roll into the driveway and up to the home of Karen and Al Fabricius, it is hard not to notice the bison statue in the front of their property. It is a unique piece that Al acquired from the Ponderosa Steakhouse restaurant in Fargo, ND, when it closed several years ago. After enlisting some help to move the concrete bison, the diehard NDSU fans placed the feature piece in their rock garden on their property at Jewett Lake.
Having a lake place was a longtime dream of the couple that they worked hard to make a reality, not realizing that it would ultimately become their primary home years later.
Karen grew up in Fargo and spent time near the water with friends and family, occasionally making the trek to Detroit Lakes, Minn., to go to the pavilion for dances. Al, a North Dakota transplant from Wyoming, did not grow up around the water but when he moved to the Fargo area, it eventually became a regular activity for their family. The couple and their two daughters enjoyed camping on various lakes in the area for a few years, including Jewett Lake.
Eventually, they decided they wanted to find a spot on the water that was all their own. There was not a lot of property available at the time, so it took a while to find what they were looking for. However, once they found the cabin on the south side of Jewett Lake, they knew it was the one.
The seasonal cabin, purchased by the couple in 1987, became their home away from home and cemented their love for life near the water and for the lake itself. They enjoyed several years, traveling back and forth between their home in Fargo and the cabin near Fergus Falls, Minn., until the year 2000 when the Fabricius clan got together and had a family meeting to discuss whether they should make the property on Jewett their permanent home.
The vote was 3 to 1, but they ultimately decided it was the right move for their family, vowing to keep ties with family and friends in the Fargo area going strong. Given Al’s flexible schedule at the time and his ability to work from home, the move to the lake made a lot of sense.
Once the decision was made to build, they started to work on the design. The couple had decided in the years prior that if they were going to build on their lot someday, it had to be made of logs. They were inspired by a property out in Montana that Al’s brother owned, a beautiful log home that had the look and feel they wanted in their home. It was also important to them that it did not feel like a lake cabin, but a home.
Their son-in-law had software to help layout the plans for the project, so he and Karen sat down together and quickly came up with a design, including the peaks and where the windows would be.
“One of the things that Karen and I wanted was to be able to see the lake no matter where we were in the house. So the entire house was built with that in mind,” Al said. “We could see the lake when we went to bed, and we could see the lake when we got up.”
Karen and Al set out on a mission to find the perfect logs for their home by researching various vendors and builders in the area as well as out of state. During a trip to visit one of their daughters who was living in Connecticut, they looked to see what was available out East. They also looked in Montana and Minnesota. The Fabricius family wanted their home to be built with 8-inch logs and have a similar look to each other to keep the style uniform throughout the house.
The hunt for the perfect logs for their future home led them to the builder they would ultimately end up choosing for the whole project. “We decided that the best logs that fit what we wanted were the ones that Log Homes Minnesota sold.”
They did not know of Log Homes Minnesota, based out of Walker, Minn., until they traveled up to see their model homes. However, upon meeting the team, they liked what they had to offer. “They seemed very above board, and very conscientious, and they listened to what we wanted,” Al said. Karen added, “Seeing their model home helped us a lot.” The samples they provided also assisted the homeowners in picking out materials and design details for their home.
“We specialize in custom design, so we are able to work directly with the client to ensure their home meets their needs, budget and works well on their lot,” said Steve Larson, of Log Homes Minnesota. “We have built over 1500 homes, many customers have built with us more than once. Al and Karen were very fun people to work with throughout the entire process.”
They were especially impressed with the masonry options available to them. They had seen the mason’s work before and were excited to have him build their feature rock fireplace in the living room of their lake home.
Another reason they chose to work with Log Homes Minnesota was the fact that they offered the option of building it as a turn-key home. This meant that instead of just building the log portion of the home and leaving the homeowners to find other contractors to finish the remainder of the house, Log Homes Minnesota was part of the project from the very beginning and until it was move in ready.
In March of 2001, the cabin was moved off the property, and the work began on building their new home at the lake.
The 3200 square foot, three bedroom home, sits on a lot on the south side of Jewett Lake. With a number of lake facing windows and a central peak standing 28 feet high, they are never short on a great view of the water, including the master suite and the loft that functions as their family room.
The main floor of the home includes a living room, master suite, and kitchen. For the cabinets, the homeowners worked with Superior Woodworks out of Bemidji, Minn., through their builder and ended up choosing hickory cabinets throughout the home. They wanted to have all of the wood in the home blend together with very little contrast.
The hickory kitchen cabinets are matched with beautiful chocolate brown quartz countertops, and the kitchen island quartz countertop acts as a subtle accent piece with a mix of tans, grays, and browns.
On the deck off of their master suite, the couple has a hot tub, a “must have” item they enjoy all year round, but especially in the winter.
The lower level consists of two bedrooms and The Bison Room. This area of the house used to be Al’s office but now serves as an extra sitting area that also has walkout access out to a patio facing the lake. The room is decorated with special NDSU memorabilia, as well as items from his 35-year career with Thrivent, such as plaques, pictures, and gavels for offices he held.
The favorite room of both homeowners is agreeably the loft, the upper level of the home. The space overlooks the living room and has a great view of the lake due to high windows reaching up to the peak of the house. “I just like being above everything and being able to look out on the lake with the big windows,” Karen said. “The loft feels very cozy, and it is our spot.”
A shop sits on the back of the lot, alongside a small screened porch. The latter is utilized as an extra space for entertaining company, or a place for the grandchildren to have sleepovers in when they come to visit.
Another feature of the home is the landscaping, which was done by Mark Jacobs from North Country Lawns in Fergus Falls. “We have to give him wonderful credit,” Karen said. “He did all the big landscaping, such as the retaining walls, and helped us with plants and trees around the house. Mark really capitalized on the rock landscaping that was already on the property and helped us carry the look through the whole property, including the rock garden around the bison and the patio blocks.”
The Fabricius family has been enjoying their home on the lake since it was completed back in September of 2001. Lake life has offered so much to them, including the great neighbors and the lifelong friends they have made over the years, not to mention the memories they have made with their family.
Karen said of living on the lake, “We would recommend it to anybody.” ~L&H
by Angela Garvin
photos by Kip Johnson