Once Moorhead residents, Mariah and Jamey Jessen loved spending their summer weekends at their Cotton Lake cabin with their three children. With plans to transform their seasonal lake retreat into a year-round lake home, they listed their Moorhead house assuming they’d have time to spare for the renovations. When the home sold immediately, they contacted architect Jan Mevold of Mevold Studio to complete the renovation of their 1940s cabin. With no less than two additions having already been done on the lake cabin, this was an architectural endeavor with jaw-dropping results.
Having designed a cabin for one of the Jessen’s friends, Mevold Studio came highly recommended. “I usually design about two to four cabins a year. Much of my time is spent on renovations and additions. I really enjoy doing cabins because people are open to doing something a little different,” said Mevold. “I usually meet with a client and walk through their cabin, then give my suggestions on possible issues we might have. It’s always a lot more work than what they think it will be. A lot of them will call back after a year or so later and say they are ready to start.”
With two prior additions to this seasonal lake home, Mevold had to take into account all issues with the previous copy-and-paste building approach. The original cabin was built in 1940, so Mevold had a fair share of structural issues to be aware of during the renovation. The Jessen’s had originally intended to gut the home, but foundation issues prevailed. “They needed to make sure it functioned for all four seasons and meet all of their family’s needs. It was a really long cabin, so we talked about different options to do a renovation,” explained Mevold. “The best option was actually to remove the entire middle portion of the cabin. They have a large, corner lot, but it’s like all lake cabins, that in the remodel, they could not build any closer to the lake and had to stay within the same footprint but were able to push the construction toward the back a bit.”
“We would meet every Sunday night,” explained Mevold. “It was kind of fun just to see the excitement of the house coming together. Renovating additions is always the toughest, you just don’t’ know what kind of structural challenges you might run into. There were a few of these issues as expected, but we were able to resolve them pretty smoothly.”
Family of Five vs. 660 Square-Feet
According to Mevold, homeowners are typically advised to find alternate living arrangements during a renovation of this scale, but this was a unique scenario. The Jessens were general contracting their own renovation and since just the middle portion was being removed, they were able to live in the right side addition which was around 660 square feet. For the Jessen’s family of five, two dogs and two cats, this meant utilizing a small kitchenette and finding an outside source for laundry. “We had our three kids sharing one bedroom and my oldest was in 5th grade at the time,” explained Mariah Jessen. “My daughter’s dresser was in the kitchen area and we used the top of it as the pantry. Our pipes would freeze a lot, so that was really challenging. There was definitely a few tears shed, but it turned out great. Building is hard, and I hate to say that because it’s also a privilege, but I think this is one part that we can’t help but look back and laugh at.”
Mastering the Main Floor
“The more I got to know the Jessens, I realized they loved to mix and match finishes and textures,” said Mevold. Throughout the home, both Mevold and the Jessens worked with Phil Seabloom, the project’s contractor and carpenter to give each space a unique finish.
On the main floor, the Jessens chose a heated, polished concrete flooring paired with a stunning, reclaimed wood accent wall extending up the custom designed, floating staircase. Underneath the stairwell, their contractor built a special door and place for their pets to reside in style.
“The kitchen island has some really unique curves,” said Mevold. The Jessens wanted something unique so they worked with Wendy Dynes at Wood Specialists to come up with a stunning, grand piano shape. The remaining space features underlit, wall-hung cabinetry in a rich espresso stain, custom hood range and nine-foot, drop ceilings over the dining room and kitchen area.
“Large islands are becoming a new normal. The challenge is to create an island that is functional, yet friendly. The shape of this island accomplished both, by setting up multiple areas to prepare and serve foods while still inviting guests to socialize.”
Wendy Dynes, CKD, NCIDQ, Wood Specialists
“We went to Smart Spaces when it came time to design the kitchen pantry and the master closet,” said Mariah Jessen. “They were great at listening to specific challenges and preferences. In the final products, we have great function such as a place for the coffee maker in the pantry, and pull-out racks for pants and belts in the closet. They also added fun details by including handles and pulls with bling on the ‘her’ side of the closet.”
“One thing they really wanted in here was a skylight for more natural light,” said Mevold. To give this space a unique flooring finish, the Jessens reached out to Maria Bosak of Eco Chic Boutique who was able to help them find the vintage-style, black and white tile which emulates the look of a printed rug, minus the maintenance.
The Jessens are avid runners, so a functional and spacious laundry room was a must.
“In working with Wendy Dynes at Wood Specialists, we were able to come up with some customized touches that made our laundry room aesthetically appealing, but also very functional,” said Mariah Jessen. “For example, when discussing how we wished there was something we could do to get all of the drying racks for our running clothes out of the middle of the room, she grabbed one of their builders and together we came up with a way to include built-in racks that fold into the wall when not being used.”
Walking from the new middle addition of the home, Mevold created a hallway that now connects it to the original addition. This smaller addition has since been renovated to accommodate a sunroom.
Just past the sunroom, that same hallway leads to the 800 square feet that the entire family once lived in during construction. This space has now been converted into a master suite with a spacious bath and this stunning view.
The Jessens weren’t keen on the idea of having the open, vaulted ceiling due to concerns with noise levels. Instead of designing confining walls, Mevold was able to come to a more aesthetically pleasing solution. The second level of the home consisted of a loft area featuring a fitness room and bedrooms, so Mevold incorporated windows where the loft leads to the rooms. This kept the noise down and resulted in a fitness room with an unobstructed view of the lake.
“We are so grateful for Jan’s ability to create a home that measures up to the vision we had in our heads,” said Mariah Jessen. “This was no easy task because from the very first conception to the final product, our vision evolved. Between Jan, Phil, and all of the other individuals who were willing to share their ideas and provide solutions to various challenges, we now have the privilege of living in what we hope to be our ‘forever home’.”
Bonus Room with a View
One of Mevold’s challenges was to find an interior space where the Jessen’s three children could run wild and have fun. Like most lake homes, this one did not have a basement, so instead Mevold looked upward to find the solution. “The attic was a pretty big space on the third level where the kids could go watch movies and play games and music, but it’s much better than a basement – they actually have a great view to the lake,” said Mevold.
Find the Finishes:
Renovation architect – Mevold Studio
Custom floating stair and railing fabrication – Phil Seabloom
Reclaimed wood accent wall- Phil Seabloom, Wood supplied by Dakota Timber Co.
Kitchen, laundry, main floor, second-floor bath cabinetry – Wendy Dynes, CKD, NCIDQ of Wood Specialists
Built-ins, linens and master bathroom cabinetry – Phil Seabloom
Laundry tile – Maria Bosak, Eco Chic Boutique
Custom paint designs in the kid’s rooms – Homeowners
Countertops – Granites Unlimited
Bonus room flooring – Carpet World
Masonry – Tim Erb Masonry
Lighting – Borderstates Electric
Appliances – Sears
Custom-built entrance door – Great River Door Company
Polished concrete floor – Zeis Concrete Solutions
Custom, master closet and pantry design – Smart Spaces
For more information, contact:
808 3rd Ave. S. Suite 400, Fargo, N.D.