A Contemporary Cottage

Filed in Feature Homes by on October 12, 2014

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Both Ashley and Garret enjoy cooking and use the Jenn-Air gas range to produce Italian, Mexican, Chinese and American foods for their family. All cabinets in the house were designed by Beth Finley and done by Omega Cabinetry.

Living in a loft in downtown Minneapolis followed by the cozy but constricted space of a two-bedroom cabin on Alexandria area’s Lake Le Homme Dieu inspired the home plans of Ashley and Garret Johnson and their growing family.

 

“We started reaming and drawing in the winter of 2011,” said Garret, and area sales manager of Medtronic. Little Alisa was only a year old and Garrison a baby as their parents took the grid paper sketches to the draftsmen at Hilltop Lumber. “They scaled it better and put it in CAD (computer aided design) format.”

 

The home the Johnsons built on lovely Lake Latoka is what they describe as “Contemporary Cottage.” They frequented Twin Cities’ parade of homes on three floors in 7,164 square feet. Their third child, Lollie Fran, was born four months before they left the tiny cottage and moved into their new spacious home in May of 2013. It was built by Haabala Construction on a piece of lakeshore provided by Garret’s parents in the late 1960s. “They had wanted to build on it but never did,” he said.

 

Large windows with views of the lake, French and pocket doors, white cabinets throughout, walls in shades of light gray to smoky blue-gray, loopy beige Frisea shag carpet intermixed with linen-look gray tile and American black walnut floors, and four -foot wide hallways and stairs give the Johnson family the feeling of airy openness unlike their previous cottage. A wood-burning fireplace in the family room on the main floor and a gas fireplace on the lower level will light up holiday gatherings for when extended family comes to visit.

 

Since both Garret and Ashley (Geris) are originally from Alexandria and have family in the area, they hope their home will be the local gathering place. “We would like to have the holidays here,” said Ashley. The extra bedrooms, five bathrooms, wide-open play space above the three-car as well as the open floor plan between the kitchen and family room will make hosting a breeze. The dining room, a short jog from the kitchen, is a more intimate space for evenings meals while breakfast and lunch is more easily served around the large kitchen island or out on the deck.

 

A combined white paint and black walnut scissor staircase allows access from the entryway or the kitchen to a landing. From there, it’s a single assent to the upper level. A carpeted stairway, conveniently lit with small dimming sensor lights placed low on one wall, leads to the lower level.

 

A unique feature on the main floor is the coffered ceiling over the family room. Builder Jon Haabala said figuring the grid-work for the ceilng was a lot of fun (as was the round roof over the arched entryway) and feels it adds a unique design to the house.

A unique feature on the main floor is the coffered ceiling over the family room. Builder Jon Haabala said figuring the grid-work for the ceilng was a lot of fun (as was the round roof over the arched entryway) and feels it adds a unique design to the house.

A unique feature on the main floor is the coffered or lacunar ceiling over the family room. Builder Jon Haabala said figuring the grid-work for the ceiling was a lot of fun (as was the round roof over the arched entryway) and feels it adds a unique design to the house. Accented in shades of white and gray, the ceiling offers a gentle play of color and accents the linear quality of the built in shelves on each side of the fireplace.

 

Ashley chose all of the paint colors for the house and she and Garret worked together to select the various lighting fixtures. They are particularly happy to have found a hanging Mason jar chandelier for the dining room and three industrial style lights that hang over the kitchen island. Three multi-faceted star lights have point of place in the entrance arch, above the “Jack and Jill” bathroom upstairs and on the lakeside of the house. And galvanized reading lights with a matching ceiling fan are eye-catchers in the master bedroom.

 

Alisa and Garrison delight in showing off their personal spaces. Alisa’s bedroom is a little girl’s dream in pink and Garrison’s is all-boy with a Discovery Kids activity table and a kid-size tool cabinet. Lollie’s sweet lamb-themed room, complete with a wooly sheep “rocking horse,” is joined to Alisa’s via the “Jack and Jill” bathroom. Featuring a sink on each side of the granite countertop and a large window over the sunken vanity beneath the star light, as well as a tub, shower and toilet, this room with access from either bedroom will accommodate the needs Alisa and Lollie as they grow into their teen year.

 

Ashley's office and "control central" is on the same floor as the bedrooms and a convenient space for her when the kids are napping.

Ashley’s office and “control central” is on the same floor as the bedrooms and a convenient space for her when the kids are napping.

Ashley’s office and “control center” is on the same floor as the bedrooms and a convenient space for her when the kids are napping. With a sink, stacked washer and dryer, convenient laundry folding counter and a desktop computer, she can handle household tasks and keep her ear tuned for the kids.

 

Garret’s main floor office is a tribute to sleek modern office simplicity. “I do most of my work on my iPad,” he said, making the need for a desktop computer, phones, drawers, papers and pens obsolete. His glass topped desk and shelves display a laptop and books as well as a month decanter, a gift from a monk during Garret’s days at St. John’s University.

 

Ashley’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota awaits her as she focuses on family. She enjoys a weekly Wednesday evening of golf, as does Garret on Thursdays. He enjoys bow hunting and the two share their enthusiasm for water sports, hockey and family trips. A pontoon fits the family best right now an the kids are just beginning to know the thrill of tubing. For a quick getaway, Ashley and Garret indulge their passion for Italian food and sneak off to Alexandria, only a six minute drive.

 

More often, they sneak off only as far as the three-and-a-half season porch just off the family room. With telescoping storm windows that slide up in sections, the room is either filled with cooling breezes or snuggled up against cold winds and a perfect spot to view sunsets from the east shore of Lake Latoka. If time allows, they might also drift down to the sauna and pamper themselves in the preset electric wet sauna complete with a cold water shower.

 

The L-shaped lower level garage opens lakeside and, for now, keeps the foor-wheeler and snowmobiles though future plans call for it to be the perfect place to store the family boat.

 

Ashley and Garret’s careful planning of their “Contemporary Cottage” design has created a home their growing family will enjoy for decades to come.

 

by Nancy Leasman, a writer from Long Prairie, MN. 

 

 

 

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