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A Catchall Storage Room Gets REEL Purpose

... and brings more cabin life to everyday living

By Lucie B. Amundsen
Published: February 17, 2011
The father-and-son fly-tying station sports a counter chosen for its resistance to stains and scratches: Silestone, in a Caramel Rhine finish. The cabinetry is Plato quarter-sawn white oak with a Briar finish, while the floor is white oak laid diagonally.
Photo by Steve Umland
Most houses have one. A catchall room with a euphemistic name like “man cave” or “craft room,” but
really it’s just a walk-in junk drawer – and often a little-used one at that.
In Paul and Kim Kosmatka’s case, it was an attic space that was crowded with the trappings of an avid fly-fisherman: rods, reels, flies and fishing magazines – plus whatever else the family of four wanted out of view.
The fly-tying room has ample seating for other family members or friends who wish to visit the oft-sequestered fly-tiers in the family.
Photo by Steve Umland
But it was mainly the abundance of fly-fishing gear that was overtaking the room. The family has long had a tradition of (and passion for) fly-fishing. Paul fished and tied flies for years, and Kim’s brother is a guide in Montana.
The tipping point came when their then 7-year-old son, Mason, took a fly-tying class and became enamored with the hobby. “A couple of the old timers were showing kids how to tie flies, and it was a bit of a challenge teaching Mason because he’s a lefty,” says Paul. “But before it was over, he had figured it out on his own.” That weekend, Paul bought his son a fly-tying kit and found a good excuse to revisit the pastime himself.
The double-stacked drawers offer extra, hidden storage space.
Photo by Tanya Bäck
When a Card Table Isn’t Enough
A card table was set up in the attic room and quickly amassed fur, feathers and beads. But father and youngest son were bumping into each other and spilling all over; it was a mess. So Paul and Kim started thinking about renovating the attic room into a true man (and son) cave.
Like most folks, the Kosmatkas always had good intentions to make something more of their space. But it wasn’t until fly-tying captured the heart and nimble fingers of a school kid and rekindled his dad’s interest that motivation was found.
Of course, creating the physical structure to support this shared hobby would undoubtedly end with far more than caught fish. Some of the best conversations with children happen when hands are meditatively working on a project. Words just flow.
But before any hooks could be wrapped or relationships deepened, there was a lot of work to be done. Sensing they were over their heads, Kim and Paul called in designer Carol Johnson for her tackle-wrangling vision.
Before the renovation project, “there were fly-tying supplies everywhere, and they’re all little items that really resist organization,” recalls Kim with exasperation. Now, these cabinets, designed with card catalog-like drawers, help the fly-tiers organize their supplies.
Photo by Tanya Bäck
These are a few of the tools of the trade.
Photo by Tanya Bäck
Designed for Storage
Design-wise, the family knew they needed to fit a lot of tool boxes and fishing rods alongside a work area, but Carol also envisioned “a comfortable conversation space so Kim and their other son, Calvin, would feel welcome, too.” The result was a hardworking U-shaped area.
The storage wall is not only the bridge piece of that “U,” but also the heart of the project – a feat completed by skilled finish carpenter Orville Hansen. The quarter-sawn white oak cabinet is just tall enough for Paul’s highest rod and flows easily into the clever faux library catalog.
To ensure the library catalog would fit into the classic overall design of the home, Kim bought unfinished polish brass hardware and used an antiquing agent to achieve the color she wanted. And the best part is the drawer’s labeling system assures that every feather, hook and anchor is accounted for. The tags were created with hand-rubbed transfer letters for the perfect label – a trick Kim picked up as a scrapbooker. 
Some fly-tying supplies are better left out in the open.
Photo by Tanya Bäck
Designed for Work
For the workbench, an engineered, non-porous stone counter was laid by the room’s best window for natural light. “We needed a surface that could handle adhesives and resist scratching,” says Carol. The finished area accommodates two chairs, two vises and lots of space to spread out tools and fly components. There’s even a nearby television for the pair to watch fly-tying videos so they can perfect their craft.
The last segment is the peninsula, which serves as a chat and snack spot with a neatly tucked under microwave, sink and mini-fridge. “I envision people being up here popping popcorn and really enjoying themselves,” says Kim.
This countertop is Jurassic Black granite and has the appearance of rocks under water.The extra tall cabinet in the background holds fly rods.
Photo by Steve Umland
He Finally Got His Granite
Incidentally, the granite top is Jurassic black river rock granite, a surface Paul had championed for in every room of his house during the ongoing multi-floor renovation project, but it had always been vigorously vetoed by his wife and designer. “It looks like a riverbed and given the outdoors fishing theme, there was finally a place it worked,” says Paul, enjoying his small victory.
Post renovation, the fly-tying room has been the production place for many lures, some of which Mason has donated to charity auctions. The room has gone from a little-used junk room to a busy place.

Photo by Kim Kosmatka
Family photos show Mason and Paul putting their creations to work.
Photo by Kim Kosmatka
Lovin’ that Cabin Feeling
But there has also been the unexpected benefit of bringing more of their cabin life to their everyday living. As Paul says, “The third floor is warm in the winter; it’s a good place to think of summer when it’s cold outside.” And that means family talks about upcoming visits to Montana (where Kim’s brother, Rob Olson, is a fishing guide) or trips to the family cabin in the U.P. of Michigan, where the kids learned how to cast off the dock.
The latter is more than just the place their log cabin sits; it’s where Kim and Paul met. “Both our families had cabins on the same lake,” says Paul, “ We’ve been going there for four generations.”
And given the Kosmatka family’s passion for the outdoors and tradition, there are likely to be more cabin generations to come.

Contributing editor Lucie Amundsen writes about families and the places they call home.

  Carol Marie Johnson, Floor to Ceiling Interior Design Showroom,
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