[Beth Kemmer, Wood Specialists Inc.]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
This month, Certified Kitchen and Lighting Designer, Beth Kemmer of Wood Specialists Inc., invited us to see a project that's been painstakingly constructed and rooted in love. You'll find Kathy Dyrdahl's extraordinary log home amid the pines of South Twin Lake near Naytahwaush, Minn., roughly one hour and 15 minutes from Fargo. Inside, log and timber walls fuse a builder's passion for historic architecture, with Kathy and her late husband Roger's love of authentic craftsmanship and rare antiques. This is an unforgettable tour that reminds us to treasure the past in the present.
Treasuring Past & Present
When Kathy and Roger Dyrdahl wanted to build a true log cabin on the lake, they went straight to the local expert, renowned builder, Don Guida, who worked on the Norwegian Stave church replicas in Moorhead, Minn., and Minot, N.D., along with the Detroit Mountain lodge in Detroit Lakes, Minn. "Don passed away in February of 2019, just before the house was completed," said Kathy Dyrdahl. "This project was truly his last labor of love. He was very well known in the lakes area for his superb log home designs and construction." Unfortunately, this wasn't Dyrdahl's only tragic loss, nearly one year prior, her beloved husband, who had been a passionate advocate for craftsmanship, also passed away before the home could be completed.
After suffering devastating losses, carpenters Paul Ogard and Scott Hilde would step in to help Kathy Dyrdahl complete the meticulously designed home that meant so much to them all. The result is a true labor of love that continues to tell the story of both her husband's and builder's genuine character and passion for life.
Tales + Timber
Inside the home's massive timber walls and dormers, Dyrdahl's medley of carefully curated pieces made us want to stop and explore every nook and cranny. She is an avid antique collector of rare, authentic, and time-worn pieces that tell a story of life long before our time. When it came time to design her spectacular kitchen, Dyrdahl contacted a kitchen and lighting designer she'd worked with and trusted for many years, Beth Kemmer of Wood Specialists in Fargo.
At the Heart of the Home
In the home's magnificent kitchen, Kemmer worked her magic, helping bring to life Dyrdahl's unique vision in pine, soapstone and rustic alder. "On the cabinetry, we used a custom stain that we had developed years ago for some other projects we'd worked on with Kathy, so, we now call it the ‘Dyrdahl’ stain," said Kemmer. "We also switched up the top cabinet doors to an inset style so we could install antique-styled latch hardware."
The walls consist of carefully selected log and timbers, so Kemmer incorporated pop-up outlets within the countertop, along with hidden towel racks, and two "magic corner" pull-outs for small appliances. Throughout the kitchen's sills, Dyrdahl displays her treasured collection of Moroccan glass. Underneath the ceiling-mounted pot rack, Kemmer designed a rolling prep island on casters and also assisted Dyrdahl with some of the gooseneck barn lighting and placement. "Kathy tends to prefer more authentic craftsman styles; she's very good at verbalizing her style and what type of storage and function she wants to achieve," said Kemmer.
Contributing to the kitchen's exquisite design, Dyrdahl worked with her blacksmith, Jamie Virnala, to create the industrial range hood as well as the corner display cabinet in the kitchen.
On the second island, Kemmer helped Dyrdahl finish the vision that she and her late husband had dreamed of. The island base features a true, three-quarter-inch thick beadboard tongue and groove, a request by Roger Dyrdahl who saw value in using this more authentic style of beadboard. "Roger was adamant that it not be paneling - it had to be the real thing," said Kemmer.
"We changed the floorplan to make sure we had enough room for the second island with seating. The gorgeous countertop is a Meteorous granite that Kathy had seen at a model home in Fargo in 2011. It has a really beautiful berry garnet design that is very rare, especially in the full inch-and-a-quarter thick slab that we wanted," said Kemmer. "Ryan Spaulding of Spaulding Stone was going on a buying trip to South America and he decided to go direct to a quarry in Brazil where he somehow found exactly what we were looking for.
"Beth and I have always worked well together; we've done many projects and have a great report. When I run ideas by her, she's always open to it, but she's also really honest with me," said Dyrdahl.
Gather 'Round the Tree
With a unique transition from the kitchen's seated island, Kemmer used the same authentic beadboard material to create a banquette to accommodate Dyrdahl's spectacular, custom pine and tree trunk table. "One day, Don told me we had to take one of our trees out and he asked if I wanted him to dig the trunk and root system out for the base of the dining room table, and this is the beautiful result," said Dyrdahl. Guida had provided the logs for the entire cabin, through his business, Blueberry Log & Timber, in Park Rapids, Minn. He also drew the blueprint by hand and shopped for the grove of trees to be used in the construction.
After viewing the kitchen and dining room, we couldn't pass up the chance to tour the entire home. Between the kitchen and main entry, Dyrdahl worked with Tom Trosvik to recreate the unique barn doors she had seen him display at the Moorhead Antique Mall. Inside, is her utility room, complete with a spare double oven, vintage laundry carts and a full laundry room with cabinetry and extra storage.
Every inch of Dyrdahl's great room displays historic conversation starters in the form of vintage library carts, antique mercury glass, railroad carts, vintage spools and two major focal points you can't miss. A wood-burning fireplace was built in stone by Roger Rasmussen of Park Rapids, Minn. For an added industrial element, Guida designed the lower portion, complete with a dual functioning bottom drawer that allows her to stock wood outside and pull out the drawer to access it inside.
Directly across the room, you'll see an original elevator wall from Perham's Tuffy grain elevator, designed by Wendell Danielson. The wood's rich tone is the original finish, naturally preserved by the oil from the grains.
Dyrdahl’s railroad cart coffee table and many of her furnishings were repurposed pieces by Rustic Industrial, an Illinois business she discovered while attending Junk Bonanza in Shakopee, Minn. She also frequently attends the Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days, a prestigious antique-flea market event typically held near Rochester, Minn. Dyrdahl happens to be friends with Andrea Stordahl, the owner of Minnesota Rust, an eclectic McIntosh, Minn., store we visited earlier in this issue. Although they're nearly 40 miles apart, Dyrdahl shops her store routinely and the two share a passion for junking, often traveling together to attend antique shows.
Dyrdahl's master suite is a modern twist with antiqued intrigue, starting with the back wall train station schedule, wood dentist drawers and ornate chandelier. Her collection of authentic Indigo fabric sets the tone, sewed into beautiful drapery which leads to the attached sunroom. Across from the bed, Dyrdahl has an antique desk where she displays family heirlooms and some of her beloved glass collections. Each piece was produced crystal clear, but have since aged to a faint lavender tone; a byproduct from early glassmaker's use of the additive Manganese dioxide.
The master's walk-in closet is flanked with custom barn doors by Tom Trosvik and features a prism glass window, vintage rug, steel canvas laundry cart and vanity. Dyrdahl found the closet's warm mason jar lighting at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Fargo.
Inside the master bath, Kemmer and Wood Specialists designed the cabinetry in the same "Dyrdahl" stain with regal chandeliers and custom wood mirrors created by Wendell Danielson of Ottertail, Minn.
Head up the live-edge stair treads to the log cabin's lofted bunkhouse designed with built-in beds and a bookcase to create a cozy space that caters to her three grandkids. Each bed has its own hidden storage and nooks, with a view of the pine tiers displaying vintage toys and family heirlooms.
A walk down the hallway showcases vintage pulley sconces and a view through the stained glass windows into the first of three dormered guest rooms. The stained glass allows natural light to filter into the hallway from the bedrooms.
Across the hall, Dyrdahl worked with Kemmer to design painted cabinetry and quartz countertops for a full bath within the log cabin's dormer timbers and white-washed pine. For a true antique effect, Dyrdahl had vintage radiators refurbished to their original working condition which heats the upstairs.
On the other side of the lofted living space, guests can catch a closer glimpse of the log cabin's authentic Luxfer glass windows residing near the lakeside's peak. During the time of gas lights, the windows were used to reflect natural light around Fargo's historic Herbst Department Store, founded in 1892. The peak is also where you can also truly appreciate the level of craftsmanship Guida instilled in this home. Dyrdahl speaks of him as not only the home's architect, but the builder, visionary, inventor and gifted friend.
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