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Continued: North Woods nest is a sweet retreat

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 5, 2013 - 11:59 PM

The Jacobson home’s “wow” feature is its high ceilings defined by exposed fir beams and industrial-looking web trusses of wood and steel tubes. “It’s a structure you might find in a warehouse or factory,” said Wagner. “It’s expressive.”

The Jacobsons are both handy and like to be able to see how something is constructed, they said. “The open trusses look architecturally fascinating, not unfinished,” said Diane. “Our friends call it modern industrial chic.”

On the exterior, Wagner clad the home in fireproof corrugated zinc in a “soft gray muted color,” he said. Zinc can last more than 100 years, although it’s pricier than other siding materials. “It ties into the industrial character of the mining buildings up the North Shore,” said Wagner. “Corrugated metal siding, simple box forms and open trusswork all hearken to that straightforward design aesthetic.”


The Jacobsons were committed to building an eco-friendly dwelling using sustainable strategies, such as photovoltaic solar panels and geothermal heating, to make it as energy-efficient as possible. “We wanted to be close to nature, but not harm it,” said Diane.

They take a long-term view of the geothermal heating’s upfront costs, which Paul estimates will be paid back in 10 years with savings in energy bills. And then the home will consume less energy for decades when they pass it down to the next generation. “Geothermal heating with radiant in-floor heat is a proven technology,” he said. “It costs 30 percent less to heat in the winter than our old farmhouse in St. Paul.”

Now that they have their very own wilderness retreat, the Jacobsons head Up North whenever they can — not minding the five-hour drive from St. Paul.

The glass-walled aerie is where Diane, a retired professor, spends most of her time writing on her laptop. “There’s something about being in the middle of nature surrounded by loons that helps you think and communicate more clearly,” she said.


Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

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