Creating BIG Memories in SMALL Spaces

A Twin Cities couple remodeled their original 1920s cabin on Crooked Lake, adding a nearby carriage house and bunkhouse to create cozy living spaces for family and friends


Written by Jodie Tweed | Photos courtesy of Mike Kurilla/3 Sevens Studio

MATTHEW AND BETSY GALL OF EDEN PRAIRIE SEARCHED FOR TWO YEARS BEFORE THEY FOUND THE PERFECT SUMMER RETREAT ON CROOKED LAKE IN DEERWOOD IN 2009. The rustic two-bedroom cabin, believed to have been built in the 1920s, was only 800 square feet. It was a small space for the Eden Prairie couple and their three children, but the property had 280 feet of lakeshore and a beautiful long wooded drive that they loved.

“The cabin has everything I wanted,” Betsy Gall, an interior designer and Realtor, explains. “I wanted something I could fix up and make cute, but not feel bad about tearing it down eventually. Our kids were really little and we knew two bedrooms weren’t going to be enough.”

The Galls decided to build a carriage house in 2012, a 1,500 square foot garage with living quarters above so they could stay at the lake in the winter months. The upstairs living area was completed late last summer.

The carriage house features a large garage below and a master bedroom with rolling barn doors, full kitchen with stainless steel farm sink and wine storage above the fridge and a nook with two built-in sofas that pull out into beds. Drapes can be pulled to close off the room from the main living area. The stairs feature a banister made of rope.

Across the yard from the carriage house is a tiny bunkhouse, about 10-feet by 12-feet, that can sleep six comfortably with built-in bunk beds. The bunkhouse is perfect for their children, Grady, 14; Gavin, 12; and Sophie, 10.

Gall opted for a subtle hint of a nautical theme throughout the living spaces because her children enjoy sailing. They have two sailboats. By utilizing built-in couches that pull out into beds, they also tried to optimize space while keeping the room functional. She had two mattresses cut in half and upholstered to create the built-ins.

“My contractors up there were so awesome and willing to work with my crazy ideas,” Gall says with a laugh. “They are really comfortable beds.”

While she did utilize a lot of custom upholstery when designing their living spaces, Gall says homeowners don’t have to spend a lot of money to   achieve the look they want. The marble vanity in the only bathroom in the carriage house features a sink she bought at a garage sale for three dollars. She just purchased new hardware.

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