Visit a Fabulous Rustic Lakehome with Family Appeal
The windowed facade of the log A-frame offers commanding views of northern Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion – a virtual sea with 40,000 acres of water, 365 islands and 1,200 miles of shoreline. It’s a place so renowned for its pristine beauty, it was recently chosen to host the state’s fishing season opener. But that’s not really why the Christophersons bought it.
“Well, Mike did all the research,” admits Kathy Christopherson. And what her late husband found was a place that worked for every family member.
Firepoint: What’s in a Name?
“What most appealed to him was the gradual approach to the lake,” continues Kathy. “We had come from a [lake] place that had a lot of steps and wanted it to be easier to get to the water.”
The home is set out on a point of land known as “Firepoint” for its large bonfire spot. But it’s far more functional than just a place to roast marshmallows. “There’s a little beach where the small grandchildren can play and the bigger ones can fish,” says Kathy.
A floating dock keeps the teens and adults happy and a Firepoint bonfire is just an all-around crowd pleaser.
“We have sat together at Firepoint and watched the stars – even in gale force winds wrapped in blankets. We love it there even if the weather is not perfect. We just make it a party,” says Kathy.
While the weather conditions may not always be ideal, the Christopherson family feels their cabin’s setting has been pretty close to perfect. “The location worked out really well because of Mike’s ALS. He had paths made and used a golf cart to get around. Even his mother, in her 90s, would come up and have access to everything,” says Kathy. “It really is a place for every age.”
But the good times aren’t just confined to the water. The home also has a fenced-in tennis court and play area which Kathy describes as “crazy wonderful.” Everyone enjoys watching family tennis tournaments around a picnic spread on the viewing platform under the shade of an umbrella. “When you’re not playing, you can sit and have a drink while you watch the game,” says Kathy. This keeps everyone participating, from 80-year-olds out on the court to the 2-year-olds on the swings and slides.
Fit & Friendly for Large Gatherings
In addition to the sweet spot on the lake, Kathy and Mike bought the 6-bedroom, 4 ½-bath vacation home for its relative accessibility and to accommodate their large gatherings.
While the home features main level living, the family made some improvements. “We added a little ramp for the one step down to the living room and remodeled a bathroom to make it handicap accessible,” recalls Kathy. The entirety of the bathroom is now a shower, tiled with butterscotch-colored limestone and marble. “The stone really is gorgeous,” confesses Kathy. A bench was added for showering and the doorways widened for wheelchair accommodation.
The family also took the opportunity to incorporate additional design features into the log interior. “We turned the situation to use more creative lemons to make our lemonade,” says Kathy who sought out a local artist to create intricate sand-carved doors. “We chose a moon and pine tree scene that really seemed to fit our location.”
Another renovation was taking a basement workroom and turning it into more guest space. They replaced the room’s metal exterior door with French doors that look out onto the lake. “It’s the only room that doesn’t have log or wood. We painted it red and now have a trundle bed and two log twin beds. I really can’t imagine the cabin without that room,” says Kathy, who often has a full house.
With the cabin only a few hours from the Christopherson family’s primary home, it has been an easy getaway for entertaining. “We’ve hosted some pretty big gatherings,” says Kathy of her blended family of three children and six grandchildren. “Also, we’ve always been very close to our brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. Mike’s mother has lived with us as well; family is very important to us.”
The Christmas and New Year holidays are busy times at the lake. “All the family comes, and we just fill up the house,” says Kathy, who says she’s hosted upwards of 17. “With the little ones you can really cram them in!” Guests enjoy time around the stone hearth fireplaces and have gotten out on the lake with a local dog sled team.
Feeding the hungry adventurers can become an adventure in itself, but everyone helps out with assigned meals. “We also do big chili parties and invite lots of people,” says Kathy, who claims that the custom-made dining room table is actually the real cabin workhorse.
“It’s a huge square table with benches and can sit 14 people chummy,” says Kathy. “It’s so much better than a long table because everyone can talk to each other and participate.”
Quality Time & Memories
Sadly, Mike passed away a few years ago. He is dearly missed.
“He really pushed to buy this place, and it was prophetic, really.” The fairly nearby location made quick getaways possible, and the accessibility of the water’s edge and deck made it possible for the family to create wonderful memories during the later stages of Mike’s life.
Over time, Kathy has reconciled herself to eventually selling her vacation home. Of all the cabin’s features, the big kitchen table is one that Kathy says she’ll miss most. So many family memories have been made there. But Kathy is philosophical about it: “We all feel bad we have to lose that table, but it just belongs in that cabin.”
“I’ve always had a strong philosophy on vacations,” says Kathy. “It’s the time away from the day-to-day that you remember. Memories come from vacations and even when we were starting our company I always pressed to get away. It … gives our lives quality.” Lucie Amundsen thinks time spent around a campfire is time well spent.