The More, The Merrier: Fun and Function on Lake Melissa

Filed in Feature Homes, In This Issue by on July 26, 2016


By Alicia Underlee Nelson

Kevin and Becky Camas’ cabin on Lake Melissa had been a gathering place for generations, a hive of activity where neighbors stopped to chat, friends stayed up late and the door was always open. The Emden, North Dakota couple inherited the original lake place from Kevin’s parents and the five Camas children grew up on Lake Melissa, spending hot summer days in the water and nights piled into the cozy bedrooms with friends.

But as the kids got older – they’re all between 17 and 25 now – and the prospect of grandchildren became a reality, Kevin and Becky knew the old cabin just couldn’t accommodate their growing family. The plumbing was faulty, the foundation was shot, and building new was more cost effective than starting over.

“We wore it out,” laughs Becky. “But we knew that putting money into it would be well worth the investment because we all love the lake place. Our family has enjoyed it for so many years.”

When it was time to build, Becky knew just who to call – her cousin Kim Hochhalter, Construction Manager and Vice President of Building Concepts in Fargo. Kim and her husband Alan Hochhalter, a licensed architect, general contractor and the company’s president, have designed and built custom homes together since 1989. And since they’d been guests of the Camas family, they knew what their new home would have to offer. DzThey had tons of kids over all the time and they wanted to keep it that way,dz says Kim.

“That was a challenge to design a house big enough for them.” Space was a major design obstacle from the very beginning, in more ways than one.

“It was a really small lot from when lakes country didn’t have the rules and regulations that it does today,” Alan explains. “They were used to being right up on
the lake. We had to go to the county and get variances from the front and roadsideand side yard.”

The lot measures just 9,600 square feet and needed to accommodate both a house large enough to contain a growing family and the fleet of vehicles that wouldtransport them from homes in the Twin Cities, school in Fargo and the family farm and gravel business in Emden. The family’s come-and-go lifestyle, the small property, and the fact that the cabin is not a year-round residence made designating roadside yard space for parking an easy decision. “A garage was out of the question for this lot,” says Alan.

Becky loves the clean look and open feel of midcentury modern design, but asprawling floor plan just wouldn’t work on such a small lot. So Alan drew up plans for a crisp, white, modern looking farmhouse that would give Becky the streamlined look she wanted and provide 2,250 square feet of living space.

Then there was just one design hurdle left – the sleeping situation. “In our family, there wasn’t enough room for everyone to have a bedroom,” explains Becky. “But I knew I wanted to have as many beds as possible.”


The designers obliged, creating a main level master suite for Becky and Kevin and two large bedrooms on the second floor that Becky immediately filled with beds –everything from twin beds to bunk beds — to accommodate family and friends. No one is allowed to claim a room and sleeping configurations change depending on who is spending the night.

The upstairs bathroom is similarly flexible. Designated shower space, a double vanity and private water closet allow several people to use it simultaneously while still maintaining a sense of privacy. That means that everybody can get ready for a night at the Hotel Shoreham in Detroit Lakes at the same time if they like, or relax and unwind with a warm shower in private.

The family definitely doesn’t take that privacy – or the hot water – for granted. “We had an outdoor shower before, so we weren’t very modest,” laughs Becky, as she recalls family and friends running across the yard in their towels. “It’s kind of a treat to just be able to go and get ready and have indoor, warm water.”

The Camas family had made an imperfect but much-loved cabin work for years. When it was time to build a new home, Kevin and Becky wanted to preserve that sense of togetherness and fun but also make every inch of the new space useful and functional. And Becky did her research. “I pretty much said how I wanted it and drew pictures – my own little plan,” she says.


The main floor is wide open to accommodate large groups, with designated spaces for relaxing and eating as well as a comfortable four season room. A mostly neutral
white, slate and light gray color scheme unifies the rooms, with just a bit of blue and aqua and a pop of vivid chartreuse, Becky’s favorite color, for emphasis.

The sleek kitchen, with its white, flat front cabinets, is the heart of the home. It features a bank of windows that flood the room with light and offer show-stopping views of the water and the property’s shade trees. “You really do feel like you’re right on the lake,” Becky says.

A low-maintenance laminate floor in a rich brown and gray tones warms up the stainless steel appliances and neutral decor. And nature inspired accents like minimalistic forest print wallpaper in the dining room and the warm, weathered texture of reclaimed wood planking by Stixwood on the fireplace wall quietly invite the outdoors in.

A 670 square foot patio with a fireplace, comfortable chairs for lounging and a bar extends the living area even further. Like everything in the house, the patio bar is both stylish and practical. When it’s in use, it’s a social hub. But pull down the rolling shutter and it converts into shed for storage.


A similar stainless steel door hides one of Becky’s favorite surprises in the kitchen. “Some people call it an appliance garage, but it’s more than that,” she says. “It’s a little breakfast area, with everything all in one place.” There’s a microwave, a coffee maker and a blender, as well as bread, peanut butter, cereal and all the cereal bowls, plates and coffee cups to serve it in. “I really love it,” she says with a grin. “It hides all the clutter.”

The Camas’ lake home is full of smart, clutter-reducing design choices and space-saving tweaks. There are storage nooks built in under the stairs and mechanical systems tucked into a crawlspace.

“This isn’t an urban home, it’s a vacation home,” says Alan. And he was happy to design accordingly, eliminating unnecessary design features (even closets – the family just needs space for suitcases) and making family gathering spaces –including the lake itself – the stars of the home.

At Becky’s request, the house only has one door. An airy corridor of white trelliswork on the patio creates a frame for a sweeping lake view, ushering guests in through the front door or out to the main patio seating area to greet the water.

After all, that’s where the fun is. On any given weekend in the summer, the Camas home and patio are overflowing with guests and laughter. “We enjoy our friends and family and so it’s usually pretty full,” Becky says. “We’ve had friends move on the lake because they enjoyed it so much. Everybody knows they’re welcome.”

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