LETTING THE LIGHT IN 
on Pokegama Lake

WRITTEN BY EMILEE MAE STRUSS | PHOTOGRAPHED BY SCOTT AMUNDSON PHOTOGRAPHY

CABINS ARE FOR RELAXING AND SPENDING TIME WITH FAMILY. Of course, that’s a simple task for a small family seeking a quaint getaway. This home, however, was built with multiple generations in mind.

Nor-Son Custom Builders had one overarching initiative when planning this farmhouse style cottage: a home that can host many and retain privacy. Each of the five bedrooms is a suite, accompanied by a private bathroom. The rooms are smaller than a typical luxury lake home to accompany for suite layout.

Technically, there is a sixth “bedroom,” but it’s a much larger open space designed for twelve grandchildren. The bunkroom, as the homeowner calls it, is custom fit to comfortably sleep twelve little ones.

The home, in all, sleeps twenty-four people. A gathering place for everyone-—no matter the time of year. The homeowner emphasized that it’s an open space for all of her and her husband’s five kids, their spouses, and grandchildren to visit.

Nor-Son Senior Architect, Paul Maki, says the home is a style they don’t typically see in the Northwoods.

“You see a lot of white paneling and trim in the metro, and we’re seeing more of it here [in the Brainerd Lakes Area], but still not as much of it,” Maki said.

The milky white paneling is designed to attract light and fill exposed rooms with sunlight instead of artificial light.

“It takes a special craftsman to do that white enameled finish correctly,” Maki said.

Welcoming light into a home is like giving it healing power, restorative energy, and an open invitation to relax—to just be in the present moment

The conversation between the homeowner and Nor-Son began early on when the lot was cabin-less and covered in grass. The cabin that used to be there was also owned by the same family, years ago. The homeowners couldn’t imagine letting go of this historic lot on Pokegama Lake in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

As a token of appreciation for the family’s history, they printed two dates on the bench-style stools in the kitchen: 1952 and 2019. The year 1952 signifies when their family moved to the land originally to claim the first cabin. Likewise, the year 2019 signifies when the farmhouse style cottage was finished.

White is the presence of harmony. It’s the opposite of colorless, for it represents all of them blended as one. It’s a symbol for well-being, for purity, and of patience. It’s the cleanest of all of the colors, and yet the most complex. White invites those within a home to cast whichever colors they choose to reflect that day. A Minnesota home dipped in white reflects each season it experiences. New with each year. Some more brilliant than others, some more dull, some with no color at all—white.

The most prized feature in the home is the picturesque hanging bed on the screened-in porch. With a clear view of the lake, it’s a highly desired spot. Heaters are installed for cooler nights.

It doesn’t matter the season; this farmhouse style cottage is built to entertain. The front porch entryway is designed to drop outside items like fishing rods and jackets. The TV room has a long table and all fabrics are resistant to liquids. And if something is spilled, no worries–the home features double laundry rooms.

Nor-Son truly made the homeowners’ dreams come true.

“Their help is ongoing,” the homeowner said. “It was a delight to work with them; they really listened to what we wanted for our family.”

This summer will be the family’s first full summer in the cottage–with many generations to come.


WHO DID WHAT: 

  • ARCHITECT AND BUILDER: NOR-SON CUSTOM BUILDERS –
    BRAINERD, MN
  • SENIOR ARCHITECT: PAUL MAKI
  • PROJECT MANAGER: JEREMY BJORGE
  • PROJECT SUPERINTENDENT: BRIAN HUJU
  • TECHNICIAN: JON HAGELIE
  • ENTRY DOOR: BRAINERD DOOR & WOODWORk, LLC – BRAINERD, MN
  • ROOFING: ROOF COMPANY NA, INC. – ST. MICHAEL, MN
  • SEPTIC SYSTEM: T&T EXCAVATING – TALMOON, MN
  • PAINTING: BRUSH MASTERS – MAPLE GROVE, MN
  • STRUCTURAL STEEL: IRONFIRE, INC – BRAINERD, MN
  • SPRAY FOAM: MINNESOTA SPRAY FOAM INSULATION – BAXTER, MN
  • FIREPLACE: EWEN ROCK WORKS – DEER RIVER, MN
  • WATER WELL: FIDELDY BROS WELL DRILLING – GRAND RAPIDS, MN
  • ELECTRIC: POKEGAMA ELECTRIC, INC. – GRAND RAPIDS, MN
  • PLUMBING: GRAVELLE PLUMBING & HEATING, INC. – AITKIN, MN
  • WATERPROOFING: BRAINERD WATERPROOFING, LLC – BRAINERD, MN
  • COUNTERTOPS: CAPITAL GRANITE, INC. – ROCKVILLE, MN
  • LUMBER: SIMONSON – BAXTER, MN
  • CABINETS: WOOD PRODUCTS UNLIMITED, INC. – BRAINERD, MN
  • CONCRETE: A1 CONCRETE & MASONRY, LLC – GRAND RAPIDS, MN
  • WINDOWS: ANDERSON GLASS COMPANY, LLC – GRAND RAPIDS, MN
  • INTERIOR DOORS: TS BUILDING SUPPLY, LLC – ALBERTVILLE, MN
  • WOOD FLOORING: SHARP EDGE HARDWOOD FLOORS, LLC – PIERZ, MN
  • EXTERIOR METAL RAILINGS: CHARIOT CUSTOM METAL DESIGNS –
    EAST GULL LAKE, MN
  • TILE: HUDRLIK DESIGN STUDIO – BRAINERD, MN
  • APPLIANCES: WARNERS’ STELLIAN – ST. PAUL, MN
  • SCREEN PORCH AWNINGS: CUSTOM UPHOLSTERY &
    AWNING CENTER, LLC – BRAINERD, MN
  • AUDIO AND VIDEO: DIGITAL HORIZONS, LLC – BRAINERD, MN
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