Charming, Rustic Lakefront Cabin at Minnesota

What is new is old — very literally in the case of the charming cabin. The owners bought the property with the intent of tearing it down, but after meeting with four unique builders and using plans drawn up three times, they fought the idea. They then met with Lands End Development and eventually found a firm that shared their vision for maintaining the appearance of a 1920s lake cottage. The house has been taken down to the studs — leaving the first fieldstone fireplace intact — along with the renovation started.

Nevertheless, this totally rebuilt house is imbued with the sense that it’s been in existence for years. Working closely with Lands End Development and their in-house designer, Michelle Fries, the owners were closely involved with each the architectural and decorating choices. These three different viewpoints turned into a winning triumvirate.

Their combined mission was to provide the house a comfortable, timeworn appearance. “The owners were planning for a long time and had plenty of ideas on how best to make the house feel like it had been in existence for a while,” says Fries. “They opted to go with reclaimed pine flooring, decided to not use any drywall except in the closets and were responsible for a lot of the collected look of the furnishings and finishes.” What is new? What is old? Let the games begin.

at a Glance
Who resides here: Dana and Mike Jacob, who use this as a year-round weekend house
Location: Woman Lake, Central Minnesota
Size: 1,300 square feet
That’s intriguing: Woman Lake is a portion of a four-lake chain that includes Child Lake, Girl Lake and Little Woman Lake.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

The walls, ceilings and floors throughout the cabin are walnut. “Since there’s so much wood, we put a stain on the beams so they would stand out,” says Fries. “We pulled some of this colour from the floor and also used the same stain on the fireplace mantel. Overall, it offers a more layered texture when you walk into the house.” A map of Woman Lake hangs over a mantel decorated with things like a red candle lantern along with a classic wicker fishing basket. On the left, a coatrack has been fashioned out of oars.

The sleeper couches were bought from Slumberland for its first cabin, and the pillows are from Pottery Barn.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

The kitchen has been purposely designed with a mix of cabinet fronts to increase the home’s collected look. “When I was growing up, you would walk into a person’s cabin and there are a random mix of kitchen cabinets,” says Fries. “Nothing matched; it had been all about function. This is a contemporary spin on that same type of feeling.” The cupboards are knotty alder, along with the darker-stained ones to the left of this stove hide the fridge. “The Jacobs had the Elmira cooker in their heads from the start of the project, which also drove the overall appearance of the room,” says Fries.

An old ladder hangs over a dining table built by Lands End Development. Dana attached ropes into candleholders and then hung them from the ceiling. She sticks out the decorations and candles to coordinate with the season. To the right, a buffet shirts an integrated wine rack.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

The Saturnia granite counter enclosing the sink has been extended a chunky appearance with a 21/2-inch rock-face ledge. The counters by the cooker and on the buffet are wood, another contrasting element that adds to the pulled-together-over-time look of the room. A lot of the cabinetry hardware has been left over from the old cabin and then supplemented with pieces found on the internet.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

“You will find red accents throughout the home,” says Fries. “It is quite ‘up north Minnesota’ to find a lot of red in cottages, along with plaids. It is the sign of a cottage.” That spirit is alive and well in the master bedroom, that has a small nightstand that Dana Jacob already owned, striped drapes from Bed, Bath and Beyond, and bedding from JCPenny. The bed belonged to some close family friend of the Jacobs’.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

The charm factor continues in the bathroom, where a sewing table that had been in Dana Jacob’s family for years has been transformed into a vanity. The Murano container spout from Thompson Dealers and a long-neck tap from Delta Victorian add some height. Vertical beadboard walls and whirlpool shower doors contribute to the homey feeling of this room. “We wanted to stick with a unique cottage feel, thus a frameless glass door did not fit in,” says Fries. “And we also wanted light to leak into the shower.” The tumbled travertine tiles were chosen to add feel to the room.

The mirrored medicine cabinet was made from among the older cabin’s windows, as well as the antique claw-foot bath was restored by Lands End Development. The fixture is from Murray Feiss.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

Every one of those cozy sleeping nooks includes its own window and can be illuminated by means of a fixture that has been made out of old fish lights bought from Christmas Point. Fries clarifies that “due to the way the lot is graded, we had to gain elevation when we inserted the guest bedroom [accessed through the door at the back of the photo]. So stairs were necessary, and also the concept we decided on was to make a bunk hallway. It accomplishes the practical demand for the stairs and adds extra sleeping area.” The bedding is from Northern Exposure, and the pillows were awarded as gifts to the Jacobs.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

Set in an acre of land, the log-sided cabin comes with a covered porch. The entrance leads into the living room. The guest bedroom and bunk hallway are to the left.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

French doors on the lake-facing side of the cabin open into the living room, and the kitchen is on the right. Dover post fixtures from Troy Lighting sit on rock columns. The building in the back is presently used for storage, but the Jacobs plan to turn it into a sauna.

Michelle Fries, BeDe Design, LLC

Who doesn’t love an outdoor shower? “It is one of the things that’s put in at a lot of these cottages,” says Fries. “It is such a luxury to take a quick outdoor shower after coming a day off to the boat.” A nearby door (not visible in this photograph) provides entry to the house.

Since completing this project, Michelle Fries has started her own firm, BeDe Design.

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