Nor-son Inc., a design/build firm of Brainerd, received an award for quality design and construction from the Minnesota Associated Builders and Contractors.
The award was given for the construction of a home on Bay Lake.
Homeowners believed incorporating "smart house" technology into the design would eliminate the stress of worrying about the multitude of things that could break, shut off or otherwise go wrong in an unattended house, causing damage and creating headaches.
Stephen Rose, Nor-son designer, turned the owner's vision into a home design. Cory Hendricks, construction project manager, and Andy Johnson, foreman translated the design into reality.
Nor-son Inc. received a construction award from Minnesota Associated Builders and Contractors for a Bay Lake home. Photographer Rick Hammer documented the home for Nor-son.
The 8,000-square-foot home rises two stories as it faces the driveway, but on the lakeside the home extends its height to 40 feet because of the walkout basement. Cedar shake shingles and log pine siding were used to convey a traditional northern cabin feel, without the waiting time required for a whole log house package to be cut and shipped to the site. Special knives were milled to give the siding an authentic hand peeled appearance, with a flat area to emulate chinking.
The siding was also blind nailed to further the appearance of whole log construction. Rustic red stain on the trim and cultured fieldstone covering the foundation complete the northwoods faade.
The entry foyer is highlighted by an open half-log staircase, which accesses the upstairs bedroom level and the downstairs family room level. Majestic iron chandeliers, one depicting the legend of Paul Bunyan, provide lighting to the area. The primary main floor living area, the great room, dining room and kitchen are open to each other, with railings, ceiling heights and cabinetry changes defining the rooms.
Knotty pine butcher-block paneling and full log column supports are common threads throughout these areas of the entry. A 30-foot full masonry fireplace, faced with cultured stone, welcomes you to the carpeted, sunken two-story great room.
The wall of lake-facing windows fills the home with ambient light. Maple flooring flows from the entry past the great room and into the dining room and gourmet kitchen. Custom Crystal cabinets of natural finish hickory line the kitchen. Emerald pearl granite countertops provide contrast to the warmth of the wood. Beyond the kitchen, the carpeted sunroom provides an intimate setting to watch the sun rise over morning coffee. A log-railed deck runs from the dining room to the sunroom, allowing access to the outdoors.
On the other end of the house, past the great room, the master suite has its own private deck. The suite features a large dressing room/closet, and a Heat-N-Glo gas see-through fireplace between the bedroom and bath. A large mudroom with laundry leading to the three-car garage rounds out the main level.
The homeowner's growing family is a consideration in the lower level. It features a game room and a home theater with an Indian River Rock faced masonry fireplace. Rose designed a lake level mudroom with a separate area to store the many water toys and accessories associated with lake living. The mudroom also houses a 42-inch SubZero refrigerator, pantry, wine rack, microwave and heartwood maple cabinetry. A changing room/bath makes this entrance from the lake complete.
Also in the lower level is the homeowner's private office. The custom cherry cabinetry and paneling that fill the room were hand-fitted and mitered by Nor-son craftsmen. The office holds a walk-in safe, fully encased in concrete, with a bank vault door.
In the mechanical room, two furnaces, an air-to-air exchanger, dehumidifier, boiler and water heater are all controlled by the Smart House computer, housed in a separate, adjacent room.
John Deering, of MasterMedia, the "smart house" system industry expert, was hired to coordinate the home automation system. He became involved during the design process to ensure correct layout and system utilization. Electrical wiring went to one of six control boxes located in the lower level computer room. Because MasterMedia used a fast track approach to the house automation plans, wiring diagrams were received on a floor-by-floor basis, requiring Nor-son and the electricians to work without an overall plan in mind.
All electrical and mechanical systems in the house, including security cameras and alarms, heating and cooling system monitoring and adjustment, audiovisual systems, lighting, and draperies are controlled through keypads in the home, or remotely via telephone or on the home's own Internet Web site.
This way, the homeowners can check on their lake retreat at any time and know that all is well, and also program it to be ready and waiting-lights on, temperature set and music playing-when they arrive for a low-stress vacation on the lake.
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