A Comfy Northwoods Cabin Renovation

A Midwest couple chooses vintage charm over extra square footage
By Christy Heitger-Ewing
Published: August 15, 2014
Minnesota northwoods lake cabin renovation
PRESERVED – The owners of this 1920s cabin were going to raze it and start over, but they opted for a strip-to-the-studs rebuild.
Photo by Rick Hammer, courtesy Lands End Development & BeDe Design
Mike Jacob was in middle school when his parents bought a seasonal cottage on Minnesota’s Girl Lake, located 175 miles north of the Twin Cities. Mike and his siblings adored spending summers at the cabin, but once they started broods of their own, it was crowded.

Mike and his wife, Dana, began hunting for a place of their own, and in July 1999 they stumbled upon a rustic hunting shack on Woman Lake, just 7 miles from Mike’s parents’ place. Before the realtor showed the property, he warned the Jacobs, “Now remember, you’re buying shoreline.”

“We stepped inside and could literally see the 2x4s that made the interior walls and the half-log that made the exterior,” recalls Dana.

The floors were covered in dirty linoleum. The exposed electrical system ran on fuses. With no stove, cooking was done with plug-in burners. The makeshift shower consisted of a tin bucket suspended on a string by a pulley system.

The shoreline was obstructed by overgrown brush. But that shoreline was only 40 feet from the cabin, which was a huge plus. The Jacobs also loved the fieldstone fireplace that sat in the middle of the room.

They promptly made an offer and began researching ways they could transform the cabin into a nicer living space while still preserving the rustic feel of a 1920s northwoods cottage.
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