Tradition runs strong on Crane Island in Lake Minnetonka: the new house had to look like it was built in 1910.
New Arts & Crafts

New construction had to fit seamlessly with 20 existing cabins and bungalows built in the first decades of the 20th century.

For more than a century, Crane Island in Minnesota has been a summer destination for a few city dwellers who go to the cooler lake community for the season. The small island has only about 20 houses on it—most of which were built at the turn of the last century. “If you were to stand in the middle of the island,” says David Heide, “it could be 1918 as easily as 2018.”

candle chandelier

Rooms are all clad in wood, naturally finished or painted—unusual in new construction but perfect for a lake cabin. The candlelit fixture can be lowered by pulley.

The challenge for David Heide Design Studio was to create a new house with the look and feel of a 1910s cottage, while accommodating modern technologies and conveniences. The house would be fully winterized, complete with storm-proofing and its own generator.

granite backsplash

A unique backsplash of stunning Costa Esmeralda granite is meant to suggest a chimney. The pot rack is custom work by local artisans. Repurposed cabinets, clear and painted finishes on wood, plus stone, iron, and the reclaimed fir floors give rooms their timeless informality.

All building materials had to be brought in by boat, barge—or across the ice in wintertime. The new house fits in unobtrusively, though it was built on a raw, rather wild site that had never been cleared. Judicious pruning and reworking left a picturesque frame for the new bungalow, which sits high above the lake.

rock fireplace

Tree-post columns emphasize structure in the cabin interior. The stone fireplace, meant to look dry-laid like the island’s unmortared walls, is the work of a talented local mason. The stones are weathered granite.

The scale of the house was matched to that of existing houses and the island itself. The house is low to the ground, mimicking the older houses nearby, some of which simply sit on stone piers. Details mattered: for example, custom headers allowed the windows to engage the eave.

Lake front screened porch

The screened porch, finished with clapboards and beadboard, is typical of island homes.

Repurposed cabinets

Cabinets from the owners’ city house, which was under renovation, were carefully saved to be used in the new bungalow.

As is typical for a lake house, this one has a big, screened porch. It’s L-shaped, occupying a corner to afford views in two directions. Rooms inside are all clad in wood, naturally finished or painted, unusual today but perfect for a lake cabin. Tree-post columns emphasize structure in the woodsy interior. The stone fireplace was designed to look dry-laid like the island’s unmortared walls.

While this project was underway, the designers were also remodeling the client’s historic Minneapolis residence. They salvaged a fireplace and cabinets to reuse them in the summer cottage’s dining room, kitchen, and master bedroom.

Repurposed built-ins

Additional reused cabinets join new millwork in rooms upstairs.

The chandelier in the dining room is not electric. It was important to the client that the dining room be lit by natural candlelight, and the fixture can be raised and lowered. The TV in the living room hides behind a panel and works in the same manner as historic window sash with weights.

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