Not Your Typical Log Cabin in the Woods

Filed in Feature Homes by on October 1, 2014

RabbitLake-960x400Ric and Christine first began their quest for a northwoods retreat knowing precisely what they wanted. Their vision was for a log home on a beautifully mature lot filled with hardwood and pine trees, along with enough elevation to offer panoramic views of the ever-changing seasons. They’d spent hours scouring through magazines collecting pictures that would help them communicate their vision to the people who would eventually turn their dreams into reality. After searching for four years, they found the perfect lot while on a family vacation at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge & Resort in Deerwood, Minn. From that point forward, everything fell into place with the expert guidance of local architect Ray Rasinski from Nisswa, and Wisconsin Log Homes.


The home was planned and built as a lake place, where they could gather with friends and family for special weekends; with the thought that they would eventually retire there, making it their primary residence. This home has enjoyed a chameleon existence, with its first life filled with charming pine and oak antiques. Then later, when they made the transition to full-time residency, the formal furnishings made their way north. When many people think of log homes, buffalo RabbitLake-4check plaids and northwoods themes of deer, moose and bear come to mind. Not so in this home. Here you’re more likely to find sterling silver, crystal and fine china, which is an unexpected departure in “these here parts.”  Ric and Christine had the challenge of incorporating their vast collection of 19th century antiques from their formal metro-area townhouse into the much less formal atmosphere of a log home. Many of the pieces could be relocated, but an equal amount would need to be edited out. For Ric and Christine, the decisions were emotional, as they both had treasured family pieces, each with a story. A close friend of Christine’s suggested that she go through all of the pieces and decide which ones she “liked”, and which ones she “loved”,  which made what had seemed an unsurmountable task much easier.


As you step into the home you are immediately surrounded by the warmth and glow that only a log home can offer. The visual feast begins as you are drawn into the great room by its soaring vaulted ceilings and exposed log purlins, the fieldstone fireplace, and the wall of windows with captivating panoramic views of the lake. Log interiors create their own distinct design element, with the dimension from the natural curve and knots of the logs, the hand-hewn texture, and the satiny glow of light that bounces off the imperfections of the logs. To balance the rich character and ambience of the logs, the home was filled with textiles that are rich in color, lush in texture, and proportionate in scale to create perfect harmony within the space.


RabbitLake-3The home is a perfect example of country elegance, where even though there are formal pieces in every room of the home, the over-all feel is understated and comfortable, one that bids you to linger and savor every element within each space. As you wander through the home there is a great sense of family history – Christine’s family have always been collectors, and there are pieces from four generations scattered throughout the home. The pieces aren’t just beautiful, some of them have been put to work, like the imposing seven foot Eastlake armoire, which has been customized to hold crystal, china and linens.


The open floorplan makes it easy for Ric and Christine to entertain, which is a major part of their lifestyle. They both love to cook and bake, and host numerous dinner parties with their “foodie” friends who share their love of good food and great wine. Team-cooking is a big part of their entertainment style; friends bring food, they try new recipes together, and seek out local farmers markets for access to the freshest ingredients. Cooler weather finds them gathered round the antique table and chairs in the dining room, but that shifts to the screened porch when the weather allows, and every single moment is savored in the open-air al fresco feeling that the space provides.


The exterior of the home is a treasure trove of secret gardens and special spaces. Ric and Christine’s of nature led them to become “Master Naturalists” thru a program sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension program at the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd, Minn. Their desire was to keep everything as natural as possible, which became the inspiration for the landscaping of the grounds. The home was designed to blend flawlessly into the landscape, and their expertise led to a design that transitions from planned plantings to natural planting so seamlessly that it’s hard to detect where one ends and the other begins.


Ric & Christine’s Favorites:

  • Top restaurant:  Their own kitchen!
  • Favorite water activities: Taking a cruise around the lake every single night enjoying cocktails before dinner.
  •  Favorite room in the home: The screen porch. It is the place that balances our need for nature and our need for civilization. We “live” out there during the summer. It’s where we eat, read, drink wine, talk to our friends, and nap.
  •  Where do you spend most of your time in your home and why? In the kitchen – we love to cook and entertain. It’s the gathering place for everybody.
  •  What is  your  favorite activity/hobby/recreation at home? Ric: Wood turning, Christine: Cooking in the winter, gardening in the summer.
  •  Favorite Keepsakes: The large engraving of the knight and his lady that’s over the fireplace. It belonged to my great grandmother, Emma Meyer. It hung in her home, then in my grandma Roberts home and now I have it. It’s the thing (after Ric and Zeus, our golden retriever) I would grab if the house was on fire.

The outdoor odyssey begins with the drive into the property on a narrow lane thru the woods that drops you near the front of the home where a flagstone path beckons you to the big open porch and comfortable Adirondack rocking chairs. The path splits near the front steps, adding a second pathway that takes you to an outdoor living space complete with a stone patio, firepit and a well-outfitted outdoor kitchen that includes a woodburning oven, the source of Ric’s signature breads. Yet another pathway with massive stone steps and perennial plantings on either side, leads to the lake side of the home, and additional outdoor living space. The livin’ is easy with spectacular views of the lake from the flagstone patio with its oversized slab-cut granite bar-height fire table, a hot tub, several chaise lounge chairs and a swing, all of which make it a relaxing space you may never want to leave.


All of the planning Ric and Christine did in preparation for their ultimate move is evident in every inch of this retreat, both inside and out. It’s no wonder their friends and family have made it their favorite destination.


by Susan Ackerman | Photography by Bryan Wendland




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