A rebirth on 8th Crow Wing Lake

Filed in Feature Homes by on April 2, 2015

Hudson-047 (2)by Jenny Holmes | Photos by Bryan Wendland


It was a bittersweet day when Don Hudson, with sledgehammer in hand, took the first swing in demolishing a cabin that had been in the family for 12 years. However, the finished product has left Don and wife Anna with nothing but anticipation of new family memories for generations to come.


The Hudsons, originally of Minnetonka, had purchased a small cabin on the 8th Crow Wing Lake in Nevis back in 1999. The structure was modest, but the property it sat upon was one-in-a-million. With nearly four acres of land, 400 feet of shoreline, and an incredible view of the water; the couple always dreamt of, one day, replacing the cabin with their retirement home.


In February 2011, the couple attended the Lake Home and Cabin Show to gather additional pieces for their treasure trove of ‘some day’ building ideas. As they approached the last couple of rows of vendors, the Hudsons came upon B-Dirt Construction – a family-owned and operated residential and commercial construction company that serves Brainerd, Baxter, Crosslake, Walker, and the surrounding area.


“We were instantly impressed,” Don recalled. “They took a different approach to home building. Instead of saying ‘look at the houses we build,’ it was ‘here’s our process.’ They went about describing how they got to know you a bit and work with you over a process of a few months or a few years to put plans on the shelf until you were ready to pull the trigger.”


“At the time, we were thinking that building a house wouldn’t happen for three to five years,” Anna added. “But we started the process of working with them, and it wasn’t too long after that our circumstances changed; and we decided to just do this.”


In September 2011, the family cabin was torn down and construction began. Thanks to a mild winter and on-time process, the Hudson’s dream home was finished in April 2012.


The Hudsons weren’t necessarily new to the process. After all, this home had been in the planning stages for several years. But soon they were overwhelmed with the all decisions to be made and the choices available.


“But that’s where a good builder comes in and helps move you in the right direction,” Don said. “They are builders with a process. And that’s what really sold us on them.”


Andrew Ranweiler, the designer behind the Hudson’s home, said with this, and every project, B-Dirt takes a unique approach to getting to know their homeowners, as well as their likes and dislikes.


“I first like to meet with the clients to walk through the site,” Ranweiler explained. “Do we have elevation to the lake or river? What type of house would work best with the property, such as slab on grade or a walkout. Where is the best house placement? What is the proximity to the neighbors, and do we have any loud obnoxious neighbors that we would not like to see as often?”


Hudson-121“At that first meeting, I also like to discuss the goals our clients are trying to achieve. We also talk about layout, house style, room orientation, lifestyle… Do the clients entertain often or have a large family or grandchildren? And we talk about over-all budget. I always tell the clients that it’s easy to design a house that they love; but house design, amenities, and budget are all intertwined.”


With the final concept in place, the Hudson’s put their fate in the hands of B-Dirt as they returned to the metro area, nearly three hours away from the construction process.


“I can still remember, coming up for the first time when framing had started, and we saw the ‘great wall,’” Don said, referring to the large wall on the lakeside of the house. Since the home was being built into a slope on a hill, the exterior wall had to be massive to accommodate the rest of the home.


“There’s a beautiful view of the trees and lake out that window,” he continued. “Our dining table is also surrounded by windows and it is an incredibly nice spot to sit at any time. The light changes throughout the day and filters through the trees in the afternoon. In the old cabin, an extension that had been added by the previous owners blocked the view of the lake. For this house, we totally went in the other direction. We wanted to bring as much of the outside in as possible.”


16988541301_168cd16dfb_o“This was supposed to be a downsized house, but it didn’t end up that way,” Don laughed. “When we finished the house, people cruising by in their pontoons would throw it into reverse to check it out. From the lake, it’s kind of hidden by trees, but you can definitely see elements of it when you go by.”


Inside, lightly stained maple lends warmth within the main level. At its peak, the vaulted ceiling is nearly twenty feet high, soaring over a truly open floor plan from great room to dining room to kitchen.


The kitchen was certainly an interest of Anna’s, and much consideration went into the layout and design of the space. “I like cooking and entertaining. A lot of times when there’s a gathering, everyone congregates in the kitchen. In our last home, we had a formal dining room that we didn’t use very much. We had watched a lot of HGTV and really liked the open floor concept; having usable space. The way it was built really facilitates visiting while cooking and preparing.”


Capacity for storage was also not overlooked. The number of cabinets and a large pantry, nearly the size of a walk in closet, were intentional.


16801988090_3d86a3216b_o“The large pantry was something I had always wanted to have,” Anna said. “It’s something I really like because everything is easily accessible.”


In lieu of traditional granite, the Hudsons opted for antiqued granite for their countertops. Anna noted she believes it gives a look of enhanced texture and dimension, in addition to its weathered appearance.


Beyond the main level essentials, are two bedrooms, including the master bedroom and a room converted into an office. There are also two bedrooms on the lower level, and a combined three-and-a-half bathrooms throughout the home.


Stereotypes aside, while Anna was pleased with the kitchen and entertaining space; Don found respite in his ‘man space’ in the two-level garage and separate outbuilding.


“I think I finally have enough space to store all of my toys,” he said.


16782052187_6e9c7e5b90_oThe lower level of the two-level garage maintains heat because it is built into the hillside. Don said he utilizes this space as a workshop; however, it also works as a great gathering space to entertain on rainy days.


The lower level of the Hudson’s home admittedly provides “more space than we ultimately need.” However, when the extra rooms aren’t occupied by weekend guests, Don and Anna use them as hobby and craft rooms.


It’s hard to imagine spending much time inside considering the location of this home. The Hudsons wanted to ensure their spectacular view wasn’t obstructed, so cables were used in lieu of chunky railings on the deck.


“We also wanted to try to have as little maintenance on the exterior as possible,” Don said, noting they opted for HardiePlank siding, which offers a wood appearance without the work.


Just last year, the Hudsons officially retired; and, in May 2014, they made the full-time transition to their home up north. Since that time, the couple has fully embraced their home and community – becoming active in various local activities and at church.


“We’re very happy with the end result and couldn’t have asked for better partners to build our dream home,” Don said.


More photos, including photos not seen in the magazine, are available in the slideshow below.



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