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.
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