If you took a boat ride around Bay Lake in northern Minnesota, you’d come upon a stylish log retreat situated on its own private peninsula, Echo Point. You’d see a spacious dock, well-kept grounds, a picturesque cabin and a small guesthouse surrounded by flowers. But you’d never believe what it took to transform the breathtaking property into what it is today.

In 2001, when the property was put up for sale, brush and overgrown trees hid it. The chinking between the logs had crumbled away in many places and squirrels had chewed at the window trim. Most people would have recommended tearing it down.

But Mike and Julie McGlynn saw things a little differently. Regulars at Bay Lake, the couple often steered their boat past Echo Point to admire the rustic cabin. But when it was put on the market, they hesitated to look at it, knowing it would probably require loads of renovation. “Finally, we told the real estate agent we’d come and take a look,” Julie says. “But the minute I walked through the door, I was in love. Mike saw the look on my face and said, ‘I’m toast!’ ”

A Winning Team

Mike and Julie knew they’d need a highly skilled architect and building team to save the historic structure. They wanted to maintain the cabin’s authenticity while adding modern function and style, so they hired architect Christine Albertsson who had designed a home for them previously.

As for the builder, Mike and Julie chose Nor-Son Inc. because of its reputation for fine craftsmanship, particularly in log construction and historic preservation.

Here are some of the design ideas that went into the McGlynns’ building project:

-Local authorities eliminated the use of overhead electrical lines, so Nor-Son used a boring machine to drill a hole beneath the lake, then ran a hydraulic line to the mainland. The line was maneuvered with a computer that could determine its direction.

-Adding modern utilities such as electricity and plumbing posed some hurdles. But Christine and the team rose to the occasion. She designed special baseboards to hide wiring while Nor-Son built a new floor 6 inches above the original to conceal the plumbing for the renovated bathroom.

-The original floorplan was opened up to improve traffic flow throughout the cabin and Julie chose extra-comfy, oversized chairs and sofas both to balance the mass of the logs and to provide ample seating for guests. The upholstery, with its soft greens and buttery yellows, complements the chocolate tones of the aged wood and provides year-round style and comfort.

-Located a step up from the living room, the original kitchen was transformed into an appealing 250-square-foot bedroom. Built-in pine dressers flank the bedroom door, offering ample storage for linens and toiletries.
The property even boasts a small guesthouse including a small living room, bath and two bedrooms that was renovated inside and out.

For more information on the McGlynns’ building project, check out the July/August 2006 issue of Log Home Design.