From Sketches to Success

Filed in Feature Homes by on December 2, 2014

Schoenack-Main-960x400by Jenny Holmes | Photography by Bryan Wendland


For over twenty years, Jeff and Connie Schoenack dreamed of a rustic lake home that echoed their love for the outdoors – inside and out. A little over a year ago, the Schoenacks took those dreams and made them reality.


Although calling the Fargo-Moorhead area home, the Schoenacks have long-loved their place of respite on South Lake Lida in Pelican Rapids. A cozy, two-bedroom cabin that has been in Connie’s family since the 1970s. The family loved the time they spent at the property and pondered the possibility of creating something more on that very site.


“There were certain things about the cabin that we both loved,” Jeff said, noting the screen porch and gazebo areas that allowed the family to take in the splendor of the lake.


“There were years of ideas of what to incorporate and what not to,” Jeff said.



This 2,600-square-foot home was built where a cozy, two-bedroom family cabin once stood.

There were napkin sketches, drawings on paper and computer generated drafts; lists of do’s and don’ts, likes and dislikes.


With a son still in high school, the Schoenacks believed their dream would have to wait until retirement. It wasn’t until they sat down and created a pros and cons list of construction and location that they determined the time was right, right now, and the place, was their favorite retreat in Pelican Rapids.


After reaching an agreement with a neighbor, the two-bedroom cabin that had been in their family for decades was purchased and moved to the lot next door and the wheels were set in motion for building their dream home.


Cory Reinertson of Reinertson Construction said he first met Jeff when he was building a cabin for one of the Schoenack’s neighbors. Cory, Jeff and Connie worked together on prints and pricing for nearly a year before ground was broken. However, Cory said the Schoenacks knew what they wanted well in advance, which made the process much easier.


“They had been dreaming of this house for twenty-plus years,” Reinertson said. “They had furniture, curtains, and their bedding picked out before we had final blue prints. They knew exactly what they wanted and had the smallest details figured out well in advance.”


A spacious kitchen with plenty of storage and counter space was a must in the Schoenack’s plan. The couple enjoys cooking together and entertaining.

A spacious kitchen with plenty of storage and counter space was a must in the Schoenack’s plan. The couple enjoys cooking together and entertaining.

The result was a 2,600-square-foot three bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home featuring special touches designed to bring the outdoors in.


“Both Jeff and Connie were very involved in this project, which made it really fun for our crew,” Reinertson said. “The theme of the house is a rustic cabin with a lot of custom touch- es. The log furniture and the custom cabinets really set a warm tone for the house.”


“We’re really big outdoorsy people,” Jeff said. “We spend most of our time outside doing activities.”


“We use the term ‘woodsy,’” Connie added. “We wanted our lake home to have that woodsy, home-in-the-woods-type feel. Our friends have commented that the house has a lot of texture. It makes you want to touch everything.”


“It’s not everyone’s taste,” Jeff admitted, “but we wanted to have all the creature comforts of the outdoors.”


Stepping into the home’s main level, you take immediate note of the use of pine throughout. Connie says Jeff wanted it “everywhere”; however, they reached a compromise to use it on the ceilings.


By traditional standards, the master bedroom may seem to be on the small side. The couple said that was intentional as they spend little time in the bedroom and wanted to utilize the available space for a larger master bathroom.

By traditional standards, the master bedroom may seem to be on the small side. The couple said that was intentional as they spend little time in the bedroom and wanted to utilize the available space for a larger master bathroom.

The master bedroom, master bath, kitchen, great room, dining room and laundry facilities are all situated on the main level. “The design is intentional,” Connie explained, noting it’s intended to be their retirement home and allows them to, someday, live entirely on the main level.


“Nothing was left to chance with this entire project,” Jeff said. “Every little detail. Every room. Every nook and cranny was thought out and planned.”


That includes the large kitchen with expansive countertop space.


“We entertain ourselves with cooking and inviting others over,” Connie said. “So we wanted a big kitchen with lots of storage space.”


They were also very intentional about wanting a large great room with windows – just as large and great – to overlook the lake.


“The house is up on a hill, so we wanted to get windows that would reach as close to the floor as far as possible,” Connie explained. In order to create the effect in a window, the couple would need to have had tempered glass installed. However, with a little creative thinking, they came up with the idea to, instead, install two large patio doors on the lake side; allowing them nearly floor to ceiling views.


Continuing the woodsy feel throughout the home, a large log bed sets a rustic tone in the master bedroom.



A favorite feature of the home is the outdoor shower, which has six different showerheads.

“Most people are surprised that our master bedroom isn’t as large. But that’s intentional,” Connie said, adding they wanted to use the available space to create a larger mast bathroom, complete with corner tub, a large vanity and a four-by-six-foot walk-in, doorless shower.


“The tile shower in the master bath is unbelievable with the rain head on the ceiling and the invisible drain system,” Reinertson commented.


Also on the main level is a concrete storm room that doubles as a wine vault, pantry and cold storage. The space measures roughly eight-by-eight and is complete with a storm-rated door. A log banister and railing lead the way to the upper level which houses two additional bedrooms, a sewing room, a bonus room/storage area over the garage, and a large rec room their kids call home when visiting.


“We really wanted to have a hands-on role,” Connie said of the building process. “But there’s only so much you can do when you’re working full time.”


Jeff and Connie painted the interior of the house. Connie finished the trim around the doors and windows. And, inspired by a swatch of fabric, Connie takes credit for the interior design; building the entire color palette of the home around the fabric used to cover the dining room chairs.


Thorough planning and intricate details were not spared, even outside of the home.


A large patio runs the length of the home’s lake side. And an optional curtain with ten foot screens allows the couple to enjoy the space rain or shine, and always bug-free.


A ceiling fan was installed in the overhang of the patio, and a fire pit was incorporated within the concrete apron so that it could be enjoyed with the screen pulled around it.


“It’s just wonderful,” Connie said. “We can have friends over for dinner and sit there without bugs.”


“The whole area just has a real comfortable feel,” Jeff agreed.


As a builder, Reinertson said one of his favorite features of the home is the outdoor shower.



Every nook and cranny of the master bath space was completely thought out when the Schoenacks planned their lake home. Large corner windows afford a beautiful view while relaxing in the deep Jacuzzi tub.

“This was the first time I have ever had a request for an outdoor shower on a house,” he said. “And it was the topic of discussion as we were building it. I don’t think anyone involved in this project had ever done an outdoor shower on the side of a house like that.”


The Schoenacks said they got the idea for the outdoor shower after visiting other homes that had incorporated the feature.


“That thing is wild,” Jeff said, noting it boasts six different showerheads. “We’re pretty conscientious about how we use it,” he said, noting the use biodegradable soap to prevent harmful runoff into the lake.


“There’s nothing better than standing out there and having a hot shower in the rain,” he continued. “Or a midnight shower under the stars. “It’s truly getting back to nature.”


And while they’re living the dream, the Schoenacks commute back and forth on the weekends since they both still hold jobs in Fargo and Moorhead.


But the couple is now reaping the benefits from two decades of planning and dreaming and say they feel the time they took afforded them an opportunity to do it right the first time.


“You hear a lot of people with regrets of ‘we should have done this’ or ‘we should have done that’ after they’ve built,” Jeff said. “We’re big planners and we feel that it paid off. We’ve been here almost a year and we haven’t had any regrets.


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



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