Blogger and author Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha recently preserved an A-frame 1970s cabin. Known for her recipe, lifestyle, and simplistic, minimalist home content, she looked forward to sharing the renovation with her audience, but it quickly became a journey filled with surprises.
Four days after purchasing the home in 2019, she found out she was pregnant. “You know, just a tiny bump in the plan,” she says. New addition Linden joined now eight-year-old Hallie.
The Great Outdoors
Located in northern Minnesota, the cozy wood-laden cabin is just south of the Canadian border and situated on picturesque Lake Superior. “Many Minnesotans make pilgrimages Up North, as we call it here, a time or two a year. The shore looks like the coast of Maine. It’s rocky and unadulterated. The trees are tall and the sky is big and clear. If heaven is a place, it might be here,” she says. It’s also a few minutes’ drive from Grand Marais, a popular, charming vacation spot. “By summer, the serene town generously opens its doors, turning into a bustling tourist town,” she adds.
The cabin itself, architecturally well-preserved, has a unique facade somewhere between the quintessential American vacation home and secluded Scandinavian cabin with cedar siding and a large glass front. “We call it a chalet frame,” Coleman says. “It’s two parts A-frame and one part chalet.” Wanting to maintain its charm, the Colemans made the decision to preserve it as best as possible while bringing it up to date. “Our hope when we purchased it was to preserve it in the same manner of the original owners. It was absolutely perfect just the way it was, minus the rotting roof and deck,” she adds.
Keeping the ’70s Vibes Alive
Before the renovation, the kitchen felt cramped yet cozy, “walled in and with cabinets everywhere,” she says. Although the family found the original kitchen charming, because of a plumbing issue, they were forced to make changes which gave them an opportunity to create a space that better fit their needs. “In the end, we said goodbye to the old kitchen, fixed the plumbing, and bumped out the space slightly to accommodate more people in both the kitchen and dining room,” she says.
When making decisions about the kitchen design, they wanted to pay homage to the rest of the home’s character, and that meant not painting the cedar. Coleman replaced the kitchen’s plywood walls with cedar cladding to match the rest of the cabin, a move that now makes it seem as if it’s always been there.
Cranking Up the Cozy
Surrounded by trees, the home’s glass front provides the ultimate indoor/outdoor experience with views of the forest and adjacent patio chairs and fire pit. Inside, the kitchen’s cedar walls juxtapose new cabinet doors from Semihandmade. “Semihandmade fronts are super beautiful, incredibly durable, and have made it through heavy use for the last 4-plus years at our house,” she says.
To create a custom look, she paired DIY Shaker fronts for the cabinet doors and DIY Slab fronts for the cabinet drawers painted in Benjamin Moore’s Trailing Vines. “It’s nerve-wracking to mix and match styles but this pairing, Shaker and slab, works particularly well together,” she adds.
White plates from Pottery Barn are ideal for guests, while a practical stash of kid-friendly Target plates are always in the drawers. A folding LeKrazy Horse pendant light from Etsy adds a touch of vintage Scandinavian flare to the room, while Marmoleum floor tiles in black and Barbados white are classic. A matte gray ILVE Range stove with brass details from the aptly titled Nostalgie Series fits seamlessly with the vintage feel, but the best find may be the resin-infused paper countertops. “I wasn’t familiar with it prior to working with Taiga Design,” she says. “They use it in a lot of their projects, and I love how it ages, beautifully etching in stories and mishaps and long dinners.”
The Vacation Every Family Deserves
When things got challenging during the renovation, from construction delays to issues surrounding the pandemic, Coleman took wisdom from an unlikely source, a children’s book. “Going On A Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen tells the story of a family as they overcome a series of obstacles. “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ll have to go through it,” Coleman quotes. “It was messy and hard, so hard, but we made it. And, on the other side is this beautiful, quiet respite of a cabin that we get to share with others.”
Although the cabin was purchased to become a rental and part-time vacation home for the family, she is tempted to make the move permanently. “I’ve tossed around the idea of uprooting our whole life from Minneapolis and moving up there, especially when I’m standing in the kitchen watching the steam roll off my coffee while looking at the lake through a sea of evergreens. Until then, if there’s ever a then, our plan is to rent out the cabin year-round,” Coleman says. Finding your own slice of heaven is no further than a click away, as the cabin is available to book online.