Tales from the Cabin
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From the Editor: Cabin Preservation

Keeping memories alive, for the love of it

By Mark R. Johnson
Published: June 5, 2014
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Cabin Life editor Mark Johnson and Charlie, his chocolate Lab
The saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” makes sense to me. That may explain my strong brand loyalty – one of the characteristics that makes me “a real treat to shop with,” according to my wife, Carol. (I’m sure she means it as a compliment.) It’s probably also behind my tendency to drive cars into the ground versus trade them in. And not just cars; I’m the proud owner of a 28-year-old Gary Fisher mountain bike. I love that bike, despite what the bike salesmen say about it when I visit their shops and they entreat me to try the new bike technology.

My “if it ain’t broke” mindset probably explains why I have a place in my heart for cabin preservation. Oh, I understand that sometimes it is necessary to bulldoze a place and rebuild. There are very good reasons for doing so, and the results can be very satisfying.

But there’s something endearing about those stories in which people are moved to preserve a special cabin. One such story is “Renovating a North Woods Family Treasure” (August 2014 issue, p. 24). Originally built in 1958 by Cal and Esther Mork, this 1,000-square-foot lake place is owned today by the Morks’ grandson, Jeff Balmer, and his wife, Lindsay.

Funny thing is, Jeff and his brother Matt are custom home builders. So they could have decided to knock down their grandparents’ place and replace it with a modern lakehome. One might even expect the brothers to do that given their line of work. Instead, they renovated the small cabin – winterizing it, updating the windows and mechanicals, adding on to the main bedroom, remodeling the kitchen, and improving the bathing and laundry facilities.

Looking at the photos of the renovated cabin, it’s apparent that the Balmers took loving care to preserve the cabin’s original character and its role as a treasure trove of family memories. Well done, Jeff, Lindsay and Matt.

Click here to see photos and floor plans for the Balmers' cabin that weren't shown in the magazine.
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