Kristen and Andy Cragg weren’t looking for a cabin when they visited friends Up North in 2001. But it was a rainy weekend, so they popped into an open house on Lower Hay Lake in the Whitefish chain.
“It was an old, cabin-y cabin — with some highly questionable DIY plumbing and electrical,” said Kristen. But it was on a quiet lake with a sandy beach, woods and loons. “It’s an incredibly peaceful place — a magical place.”
So the couple bought the cabin, and soon their five kids were bringing their friends up for swimming, water skiing, jet-skiing and jumping on the family’s water trampoline.
“We have a big family, and we like to entertain a lot,” said Kristen.
But the old, one-bathroom cabin was far from ideal for entertaining. “My brother is an architect, and he and I had been talking for years — ‘How can we make the cabin work better?’ ” Kristen said.
An answer came in 2009. Kristen went Up North and discovered that a pipe had split, flooding the cabin. “We took the ceiling out, and there was a foot of water on the floor,” she recalled. Rather than deal with extensive repairs and possible mold, the Craggs decided to tear down the old cabin and build a better one.
“I had been thinking for years about my fantasy cabin,” said Kristen. Working with builder Lands End Development, the Craggs built a Minnesota lodge-style home big enough for large groups to gather. There are six bedrooms, plus a bunkroom, and a guest suite above the garage, so they can comfortably sleep 24 people.
Kristen’s parents had an enormous table with 10 leaves that seats 18 to 20. “I wanted a place I could fit that table,” she said. It’s now in their supersized kitchen, along with an 18-foot island that seats another eight. “Everyone can sit together,” she said. “You can whip out a dinner for 30 people.”
The kitchen also features a two-sided stone fireplace so she can enjoy a fire while she’s cooking. “A mason handstacked every stone,” she said.
There’s lots of rustic character inside the home, with hand-hewn beams, a pine ceiling and walnut floors. There’s also a grilling deck, with a fireplace, overlooking the lake. “We sit out there until late October.”
She loves everything about their fantasy cabin. “It could not have turned out better,” she said. But now, after enjoying the 5,484-square-foot retreat for 10 years, they’ve decided to put it on the market for $1.995 million.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” she said. “It’s our perfect home.” But their five kids are young adults now, with busy careers and young children. “We’re madly in love with those grandchildren, and it’s hard for our kids to get up there. No more spring breaks,” she said. “It needs to be inhabited by an active family or group of friends.”
Rob Birkeland, 218-831-0788, Keller Williams, has the listing.