Looking for a place to gather with their grown children, Minnesota couple took the plunge on a new family compound—soaked in lake water, dusted with sand and chased with craft beer.
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lake house modern rustic wood stone exterior
Credit: Kim Cornelison

Every Fourth of July, the Dimke family lines up in a row, and at the shout of Go!, launches into handstands while a friend snaps a shot. The newish tradition makes it clear: Fun comes naturally to this crew.

family lakeside fire pit patio chairs
A firepit sits between the Dimkes' main house and the recently remodeled "kids' cabin." Days start and end here, the time between filled with swimming, skiing or cruising around Upper Gull Lake for live music and beach volleyball.
| Credit: Kim Cornelison

These days, Mary and Bob Dimke and their four adult children (and good-sport in-laws) are flipping head over heels on a peninsula in Minnesota's Brainerd Lakes region, where the couple recently finished a summer compound. The three cabins—one new, two remodeled—mark a celebration of sorts.

great room neutrals wood tones lake view
In a great room that's tall, not wide, double-decker windows and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace provide the grandeur. "The footprint is actually pretty narrow and quite small," says architect Collin Jacobs. "We didn't want to end up with an elevator shaft. The trusses give a historic tie back to older timber frame buildings and bring the scale down to make it cozy." The beam dividing the windows conceals privacy shades; the door to the right opens to the patio and dock.
| Credit: Kim Cornelison

"The kids were all out of state when we bought the property [nine years ago], so we sat on it for a few years," Mary says. "When we got the feeling they'd all come back to Minnesota, we went ahead with construction."

laundry room white oak shelves
dining nook banquette white planks
couple kitchen wood floors black windows
Left: Tays also built continuity into the swoony laundry room, plucking several design elements from the kitchen—smooth white oak floating shelves, soapstone counters, an unsealed brass faucet that will darken with age and hefty metal hardware. Textured floor tile mimics the plaid carpet in the second-level guest suite. | Credit: Kim Cornelison
Center: "I want every space to feel special, yet still flow," designer Laura Tays says. In the sunroom, vertical planks of varying widths match the color of all the main-level walls, cabinetry and trim (Sherwin-Williams Shoji White 7042), but Tays diluted the paint for a whitewash effect. "It's not quite as perfectly stark as the rest. You can see knots and cracks and some wood bleeding through." | Credit: Kim Cornelison
Right: In the kitchen, corner windows frame the lake view. The plaster-and-bronze range hood faces the fireplace in the adjoining great room, like a twin hearth. To eke out a few extra inches, the island runs lengthwise and breaks into that living space, so Tays gave it a pretty soapstone top and glass-front drawers on the side that faces the fireplace. | Credit: Kim Cornelison

The Dimkes hired architect Collin Jacobs and designer Laura Tays to referee a friendly duel between Bob's woodsy hunting-cabin vibe and Mary's light, modern-leaning style. "Mary is drawn to nature, texture, neutral tones and things that are lived-in," Tays says. "Bob was more 'tiny cabin with bear rugs'—very rustic."

guest bedroom blue panels dormer
symmetrical dormer bedroom wood tones
Left: The guest bedroom's blue paneling hides corner storage, accessed through doors disguised in the woodwork. | Credit: Kim Cornelison
Right: Above the garage, in a bonus guest room where Mary and her daughters often do yoga, Tays tried out another wall treatment—exposed wood paneling charred using a Japanese preservation technique called shou sugi ban. Gray plaid wall-to-wall carpeting, cognac leather accents and an antler fixture round out the not-so-knotty pine cabin feel. | Credit: Kim Cornelison

Eventually, Bob came over to Mary's side (mostly) and the 3,000-square-foot home came into focus. Main-floor living will enable the couple to avoid stairs if needed, while ample second-floor guest rooms invite visitors.

bathroom basket-weave tiles black accents
black built-in medicine cabinet glass doors
Left: Tays adhered basket-weave tiles to the vanity wall without any grout to maintain the pattern's crisp details. (The shower tile is lightly grouted for water protection). | Credit: Kim Cornelison
Right: A glass-doored built-in serves as a linen closet and medicine cabinet. | Credit: Kim Cornelison

Dramatic windows capture the lake views. Among stylish tone-on-tone neutrals, reclaimed wood ceilings, trusses and beams add a dose  of Up North. As Mary says, "Anytime we could bring in wood, that was good for Bob."

primary bedroom grass cloth neutrals
The Dimkes put the primary bedroom on ground level because, Mary says, "We want to stay here forever." With an eye to long-lasting style, she asked her designer to avoid wild colors and patterns. So Tays gave oomph to accent walls in a more subtle way, with natural materials like grass cloth.
| Credit: Kim Cornelison

Even Bob's antler mounts look good in the calm setting. But if he ever feels the need for a space a little rougher around the edges, he walks 20 steps out the front door and lands in The Doghouse, the family's stand-alone private pub. The stone-swathed building sits on the site of a former falling-down garage and had to keep the same footprint, so Mary describes the 689-square-foot structure as "little bathroom, big bar." Three local craft beers are on tap behind a 14-seat custom iron bar. The lounge revolves around a fireplace, leaving room for a table, where there's almost always a cribbage game going.

Interior of family bar in converted garage
Credit: Kim Cornelison

But Mary's favorite spot isn't The Doghouse or the sun-streaked great room or even the water glittering outside. It's the upstairs hallway, where Tays hung a collage of family vacation photos Mary chose. Front and center: five years' worth of headstands.

Peek inside the pub, see what's on tap and get the resources for the rest of the home