Peninsula Paradise: So many things to love in the Johnson’s Maple Lake cabin

Filed in Feature Homes by on October 6, 2015

1015LAHM-Johnson-Lynette-0020By Jenny Holmes | Photography by Steve Janssen

Curt and Lynette Johnson have proved the old adage to be true: Good things do come small packages.

The Wheaton, Minnesota couple took an aged and dilapidated family cabin; and, adhering to its initial footprint, recreated a family cabin that truly packs a punch.

Lynette’s earliest memories of her family’s cabin go back to when she was 10 years old. The family would pack up on the weekends and make the hour-and-a-half trek to Maple Lake, just south of Alexandria. Lynette recalls her parents purchasing the lot, situated on the point of a peninsula and her father building a modest cabin with used lumber and his own two hands.

“My dad would say we just needed something small so we could come, mow and have fun,” Lynette recalled.

Since 1960, Lynette and her family would visit and make memories. However, as time passed, the condition of the cabin begin to deteriorate and space became more and more of an issue as Lynette and husband, Curt, had children, and eventually grandchildren, of their own.

“We had looked at remodeling, but it just wasn’t feasible,” Lynette recalled. Having an idea of what they wanted and the space constraints of their current lot, the Johnsons went to

1015LAHM-Johnson-Lynette-0002Alexandria Homes in Alexandria and consulted with general manager Sean Stiras.

“It was kind of an unusual project,” Stiras noted. “They had a real small footprint to work with; and, since it was situated on a peninsula, we were limited to the space allowed.”

Alexandria Homes specializes in the construction of manufactured and modular homes. With thousands of existing plans to choose from, clients are also able to customize designs with the help of design professionals.

Grandfathered in to current lake easements and ordinances, the Johnsons were allowed to build in the same footprint of the old cabin – a space that allowed for a 20 x 35 foot structure.

Selecting a design that would fit their space, the Johnsons then tweaked the floor plan with personal touches. Soon, their new family cabin had been realized via computer aided design (CAD), and the process began.

1015LAHM-Johnson-Lynette-0017In October 2014, the 50-plus year old family cabin was demolished. “It took 47 minutes to demolish,” Lynette recalled. “And for 47 minutes, the tears just ran down. It was sad to watch. But we also knew it was the start of a new chapter.”

In January 2015, their new cabin was ready to be moved out to the Johnson’s lot to be assembled. After having been constructed in Detroit Lakes, a crew from Alexandria Homes hauled the new cabin out to the lot piece-by-piece – six pieces to be exact. Stiras noted that because the road leading to the point of the peninsula was so narrow, they had to be methodical in getting portions of the cabin safely to their final destination.

Through the winter and early spring months, the crew worked to assemble and finish the Johnson’s cabin. And, on Mother’s Day, the Johnson’s had their first celebration at the new lake place. New and improved, the cabin measures 1,460 square feet between the upper and lower level.

1015LAHM-Johnson-Lynette-0013“When people who had been to the old cabin came for the first time, they just couldn’t believe it’s the same square footage,” Lynette said. However, with careful planning, the Johnsons were able to maximize every inch of space to provide for an open and larger appearance.

In addition to nine-foot ceilings on the main level, the Johnsons opted for an open floor plan and large windows throughout.

The cabin includes two bathrooms, three bedrooms, a spacious kitchen and living space. “In the old cabin, we had one tiny bathroom; and now I have two bathrooms,” Lynette marveled. “There wasn’t an outlet in the bathroom. And we had this tiny, tiny little kitchen. It was just hilarious. And now I have this kitchen with all these cabinets. And I have an island with a little fridge in it.”

A weight-bearing wall was built between the kitchen and bathroom, so the Johnsons took advantage of the space by putting in a pantry on the kitchen side and a small closet in the bathroom wall.

“We tried to maximize our space as much as we could,” Lynette said.

1015LAHM-Johnson-Lynette-0018One of the bedrooms on the upper level was made into a bunkroom with bunk beds to accommodate the grandchildren. The Hegna Room, named after Lynette’s parents, allows for the family to gather, play games and watch television.

The Johnsons were intentional about choosing Knotty Alder woodwork throughout the home to give it a true cabin feel.

Staying true to the roots of the property has been important to Lynette. In addition to naming a room after her parents, she has decorated with several mementos and heirlooms, including her father’s metal tackle box and minnow bucket in the kitchen, a photograph of her parents as a young couple wearing bathing suits, and an old piece of wallpaper they recovered from the original cabin before it was destroyed that simply says “Best Memories are Cabin Memories.”

The Johnsons are quick to recognize the work performed by the Alexandria Homes crew.

“They did a wonderful job,” Lynette said. “Sean was excellent.”

1015LAHM-Johnson-Lynette-0001Worried about having the cabin look squared in and boxy, Lynette said Stiras allowed them to personalize the plan by bumping out a few walls on the upper level, as well as adding a five- foot cement crawl space beneath to provide a storm shelter.

And not to be overlooked is the incredible lot the cabin is located. Sitting on a peninsula, you can’t escape a lake view.

“It’s a beautiful lake,” Lynette said. “The idea that we can have water in the front and water at the back of us. We see the sun rise and see it set.”

There’s exactly 26 feet distance from the Johnson’s sliding glass door to the shoreline of Maple Lake and about 95 feet of land width at their point of the peninsula.

“There are just so many things we love and can’t believe about this place,” Lynette said. “It’s a fun gathering place. It’s amazing how big it feels even though it’s quite small. It’s been a fun experience to see what you can still get with a small place.”

Tags: , , , ,