[5th Annual Lakes Area Home Tour | Bailee Schissel, Refreshing Designs]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Kristen Perala
A stand out on the upcoming Lakes Area Home Tour, is the extraordinary log cabin of Kim and Dave Schissel. In a family-style DIY, their Otter Tail Lake overhaul came with professional direction via their interior designer daughter, Bailee Schissel of Refreshing Designs in Perham, Minn. While many tried to sway the family away from painting the entire interior white, the Schissels proved that even in a rustic log cabin, white was just right.
Positioned on a 100 feet of beachfront, the Schissels 1972 log cabin consisted of 2,400 square feet and had been sitting in disrepair for far too long. As residents of Wadena, they'd owned the cabin for five summers, traveling the 30 minutes back and forth, inspecting every inch and contemplating every issue. Finally feeling like they were armed with the knowledge they needed, they sold their Wadena home, embraced the challenge and made the log cabin their home. The renovation was completed in three phases with their contractor Chuck Goddard and their interior designer daughter, Bailee Schissel. While the first two years were spent resolving moisture issues and structural problems, the last two have been spent working hard to refine their rustic retreat and create a fresh, coastal abode.
Although different from his longtime career at Holland Molds in Wadena, Dave has a long history of building and remodeling projects, and even studied drafting in college. Kim also has a knack for design, crafting some of the cabin's decor, and even occasionally helping her daughter on larger client projects. "They are both very talented and very creative," said Bailee Schissel. "Throughout my entire life, they've been remodeling, building or recreating something - it's always kind of been their hobby."
Securing the View
Before interior renovations could begin, they had to address the front wall of windows which had been rotting due to moisture issues. "You could push on that wall and it would move," said Dave Schissel. "The two logs on the bottom had started to rot and the windows were leaking. They jacked everything up, secured it, took the wall down, put it back up and raised the center beam." During this fix, they also replaced some of the windows with sliding doors leading the lake.
White is the New White
Although they took on risky renovations all over the cabin, the Schissels can all agree that the most controversial thing they did was paint the interior's logs white. "We would tell people that we were planning to paint it and they would freak; especially the men," said Kim Schissel. "I think we needed to do the white everywhere though, otherwise there's almost too much texture. It was just too busy, with just the wood alone."
"Nobody liked the idea of painting the interior of a log home entirely white, and in all honesty, I've never seen it done either," said Bailee Schissel. "We've done tons of white washing and some accent walls in log cabins for clients, but never an entire log home."
"It's all western red cedar and it took five coats of White Dove, Sherwin Williams paint because it kept bleeding through," said Bailee Schissel. "It wasn't just about toning down the texture or brightening up the space; the existing wood definitely had an older smell, so painting helped bring a new freshness to the cabin. Also, since this was going to be their home, not their cabin, we needed to make it feel that way. To give the logs a modernized look, we preserved the old black metal straps and those became the inspiration for our hardware and stair piping throughout."
While the great room once boasted a wagon wheel chandelier as its main source of light, it's now a light and bright stunner with LED lighting leading to its 16-foot peak. "I did some of the electrical, but I also worked with Heltemes Electric," said Dave Schissel. "We guided them a little bit, but they just knew what to do. Our struggle here was how dark it was, and in a log home you don't have walls to run anything, so it was a real challenge. We did some research with them on LED lighting and now most everything in here is dimmable LED, from ceiling fans to all of the recessed cans."
Designing for the expansive space, Bailee and Kim placed items from their old home in Wadena, with new furnishings and decor from Karvonen's and Refreshing Designs in Perham. "There was only one thing that we couldn't quite find in the right size and color, and it was a coffee table," said Bailee Schissel. "We ended up custom-designing a table out of the same soapstone that we used in the laundry room."
Preserving the Hearth
The first thing the Schissels did with the fireplace was figure out how it worked, yet had not burned the cabin down. "The old cedar mantel was built into the fireplace, and we came out here one winter day and started a big fire - the whole place was blue smoke. After inspection, we found out that the mantel was built through the stone and it was sitting on the fireplace inside, burning; it had been used like that for 45 years," said Dave Schissel. "As much as we loved wood-burning fireplaces, we struggled with this one. I ended up working with Alex Brick & Stone to get a custom fit gas insert to look as real as possible."
"Besides the logs, the fireplace stone is the only surface from the old cabin that we didn't touch," explained Bailee Schissel. "The stone was said to have been pulled out of the river by the original owner; it has a really unique texture."
Cabin Kitchen Envy
With a kitchen ceiling peaking at just over seven feet, the white paint seemed to be their only saving grace. After removing the original, cantilevered ladder stairs, which blocked the view to the lake, the next challenge was how to build cabinetry into the log cabin's settled, uneven structure. The Schissels worked with Shannon Cabinets to custom-build the cabinetry, while the couple installed their own tile. "I had done two log cabin kitchens with him prior, so I knew he would be a good fit for them, as far as being able to handle this," said Bailee Schissel. "There are some cabinet makers who would look at this and not have any idea what to do or just square everything off. But, Chad (Shannon) really made everything fit perfectly around the logs."
The laundry room, just off the kitchen, was actually the first interior project they tackled with their contractor, Chuck Goddard. It was once the old seasonal breezeway which had some serious structural issues. It was six to eight inches off on the roofline and needed a raised foundation and foam insulation. For the new laundry room's layout, Bailee worked closely with her mom to design the cabinetry and find timeless finishes like butcher block and soapstone to complement the existing log and shiplap detailing.
"It was pretty easy to work with Bailee; we have the same taste, and we work well together. We don't worry about hurting each other's feelings, so we're able to tell each other right away if we like or don't like something," said Kim Schissel.
Step by Step
Pulling down the kitchen's obtrusive stair meant finding a more logical location for the stairwell leading to the lofted den and kid's room. Dave worked with Bailee to draw up the plans and was able to construct the stairs, using his shop in Wadena to build the frame. To match the cabin's original features, he sourced pre-split logs from Two Inlets Mill. Camouflaging the larger stairwell within the great room, Bailee devised a plan to paint the sides and overall structure white, while staining the log treads for chic contrast.
Since the cabin's original railing consisted of four-inch logs, they opted for an industrial touch with black gas pipe, bringing the railing up to modern-day safety codes.
Main Level - Bedrooms
With three grown daughters and three grandkids, the Schissels made sure to create a family-friendly design with designated space and rooms for everyone. Originally, the four bedrooms in the hallway near the dining room could be found through swinging, ranch-style doors. Walking down the hall, you'll still see all original doors, knobs and paneling, now brighter and whiter.
The hallway's first bedroom kept the existing layout, but was also repainted and given a rustic focal point with a salvaged wood headboard from a friend's farm. Besides cleaning it up, Kim chose to keep the vintage vibe as-is.
Guest Bath Bliss
Stealing the middle bedroom meant transforming it into a gorgeous guest bath with custom tile work done by Dave, and a unique, extended glass shower door, quartz countertops, matte black hardware and farmhouse style fixtures. "We didn't change the walls, we just turned it into a guest bathroom to be shared between the bedrooms on either side," said Kim Schissel.
This was the first bedroom the Schissels painted white and it quickly became the inspiration for the entire cabin. While it took some coercing to get Dave to give up the original, stained wood, once he saw it finished, he was sold on Kim and Bailee's controversial idea.
At the end of the hall, off to the right, is the master suite with a completely new layout. Together they were able to recreate the space, designing a much larger master suite with direct patio access and lake views. After searching for a complimentary dresser, the Schissels decided to make their own in the same modern design as the bathroom cabinetry.
cramped bathroom with all blue enamel fixtures, is now a completely reconfigured master bath with a spacious walk-in-closet. "We wanted a vintage-modern vibe, so we chose a more modern, flat-panel cabinetry in white oak from Shannon Cabinets, then it was custom-stained to match the flooring," said Bailee Schissel. "We used the original mirror which was already a little antiqued, but my mom did an antique finish to bring it out more." Near the tub, her dad created shelving using reclaimed doors he planed from an old farm.
While their contractor was initially hesitant to cut into the roof in the upstairs loft, the family insisted on adding the dormers which would give the dark, tunnel-like upstairs a fresh, new life. The challenge was finding the smooth seven-and-half-inch logs to make it work, which Dave soon found at a mill in Michigan. Bailee then worked with her parents to redefine the space into a bonus den, reading nook and a large bedroom/craft room used for the Schissel's three grandkids and Kim's quilting. The kids’ beds showcase just of couple of the elaborate quilting designs made by her.
"We went through a couple of contractors before Chuck came in - I think it's so important to find the right contractor. You have to find someone that will work with your vision. They don't have to see it, but they have to be willing to make it happen. Chuck was a make-it-happen person," said Bailee Schissel.
Reworking their Welcome
While the original cabin had only a tiny entry, where the kitchen fridge is now, the family knew they needed a more welcoming, wide open foyer. Repositioning the walls gave them space for a mudroom, console and stairwell. In this space, the Schissels chose a unique vertical shiplap to mimic the look of some of the original wood finishes in the bedrooms.
Private Suite in the Trees
Just off the new entry is a stairwell leading to the home's bonus room that has become a private suite with a small bathroom and lounge area. "We had maybe five different plans for up here, and we were originally planning to put the bathroom right near the top of the steps, but I'm glad we made the changes because I think it turned out better," said Kim Schissel. "As far as space planning, Bailee knew exactly how each area should be divided, giving the advice to move the bathroom so we didn't block that window and view to the lake."
Wrapping up the Remodel
"I got the pleasure of working with my parents through every step of the project, from day one, not only as their daughter but also their interior designer," said Bailee Schissel. "Both of my parents are incredibly talented and I have always said I received my gift of designing from them. They did a lot of the remodel themselves, even some of the electrical and plumbing. For me, it was fun because I didn't have to get things done so quickly, I was able to take my time and really study things a lot longer than I get to with everyday clients. For the decor, they already had a really nice house with a lot of character and interesting pieces in Wadena, so a lot of it was just deciding what we were going to bring to this house. I'd come out on weekends or at night to help them, and since I have a close relationship with my parents, I could be really honest in giving opinions."
"When we were dealing with countertops, flooring, cabinetry, lighting and everything else, it was really nice to have an interior designer in the family. In the past two years, there have been countless times where Bailee has come down here and said, 'No, dad - this is what we have to do.' She has been right about a lot of things. It was to the point that Chuck would ask if Kim and Bailee approved it, before he moved forward," laughed Dave Schissel. "It has been really fun to work with our daughter on a project like this and to see the results and know that it worked well - she's really talented."
Find the Finishes:
Take a Tour & Support the Students!
The Lakes Area Home Tour is a self-guided tour of seven homes throughout the Vergas, Ottertail and Perham areas. All proceeds benefit the 549 Family Foundation, serving the Perham-Dent school district. Since the foundation's start in 2002, they have awarded over $700,000 for local schools varying educational programs.
Lakes Area Home Tour:
Saturday, September 28, 2019
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Cost is $25/ticket with proceeds benefiting the 549 Family Foundation.
[Tickets include an exclusive swag bag with special offers from local businesses.]
Find tickets at each featured home, or buy in advance at:
Nest, Bremer Bank, Refreshing Designs in Perham, or at Lumber Depot in New York Mills
For more information:
Facebook - Lakes Area Home Tour
* Be sure to 'like' their page to see updates and sneak peeks of each featured home!
For more information, contact:
Midwest Nest Magazine features home designs in its monthly print and online publication.