Clearwater Construction is known for their exquisite work throughout Northern Minnesota. Whether full scribe log cabins or conventional homes, Joel and Laura Sutton’s general contracting company has set themselves apart from their competitors with their unique, custom designs.
This was especially true with the creation of this beautiful custom-built log cabin along the shores of Bad Medicine Lake. The homeowners provided the Suttons with a variety of ideas and concepts, allowing Clearwater to fashion the family a special place away from life’s chaos.
“Throughout the years, our company has built a lot of homes, and this family wanted the cabin to be unique, functional, and different than most,” Joel said. “We really enjoyed building this cabin, especially since we were able to incorporate so many different things.”
The homeowners desire to build wasn’t just a passing whim; they had enjoyed vacationing in Northern Minnesota for years. After time, the family began looking for the right piece of land.
“It took us a couple of years to find something we really liked,” said the homeowners. “We also knew we wanted a log cabin. We found Andersen Log Homes in Walker who built the log frame, who then recommended Joel. His crew started building in 2007, and the beautiful place was finished in 2009.”
The Scandinavian full scribe log cabin is situated amongst the trees and about 150 feet from the beautiful, turquoise waters of Bad Medicine Lake, some say the clearest in Minnesota. Sutton’s used specialized Engelmann Spruce logs that were first pre-assembled by Jon Anderson from Anderson Log Homes Company. The logs are one-of-a-kind and remnants of a Montana Forest Fire.
“The Spruce logs were from dead standing trees,” Joel shared. “Jon from Andersen Log Homes flew out to Montana and handpicked these huge unique logs that the state allowed to be harvested after a forest fire. Since they aren’t a green log, the logs are less likely to shrink over time.”
Once the trees made the trip back to Minnesota, Andersen’s crew hand scraped off the bark and began creating notches and lateral scribes throughout the logs. During the process, the crew discovered the fire’s scorching had gone deep into the wood and left individualized character, making the cabin even more unique.
Uniqueness Found Throughout the Cabin
This particular cabin is filled with so many distinct intricacies, including a custom-made front door. The large wooden entrance is specially fitted with what appears to be distressed wood.
“The door weighs over 2,000 pounds and is carved to look like it belongs on an old castle,” Joel explained. “We have a friend who builds these unique doors, and this door is different from anything else he’s created.”
Another exclusive aspect are the stone fireplaces, handcrafted by Joel’s wife Laura. She took the ideas provided by the homeowners and created a stone showstopper. Throughout the fireplace, Laura incorporated different types of wood. The pieces can be removed, swivel 360 degrees, and hold animal mounts.
“The family enjoys hunting and will often have a mount made, whether it’s bobcat, fisher or otter,” Joel explained. “This way, they can take the stick or wood out of the fireplace, put the mount on it and place the wood back. Laura did a beautiful job designing the stone masonry and incorporating the logs. It is so cool and different from any of her other creations.”
The juniper mantels on the two fireplaces came from Oregon, high up in the mountains. Laura found the juniper supplier for the project, but because of the supplier’s location, communication was spotty, and they could only connect at certain times.
“Communication was definitely hard, but it all came together,” Joel shared. “She had to wait until they got to a certain place on the mountain in order to talk, just so we could get the wood to Minnesota.”
The chunk of juniper is over 1,000 years old and is twisted in several places. The Sutton’s sandblasted the wood and fashioned it into gorgeous mantels to top Laura’s masonry.
Another conversation starter in the home is the upstairs bathroom, which was created to look like an outhouse. The pretend antique porta potty can be seen from the bottom of the stairs and adds a noticeable piece to the upstairs.
“This house was so fun to build because the family didn’t want the normal; we got to do a lot of playing,” Joel said. “Another favorite part of mine was the built-in beds in several bedrooms.”
The Kitchen and Dining Space
The kitchen cabinets are fitted with hammered steel and include hinges that appear from the Medieval times. The appliances are all copper and special ordered from Elmira Stove Works in Canada, each designed to look old and rustic but are completely modern. Joel even added a smoke stack and pipe to the stove to give the authentic appearance of an antique coal/wood fired kitchen stove.
“All of the appliances look old and rustic but works completely modern,” the homeowners shared. “Even the light switches are modernly rustic. They look old, but you push the button, and they turn on.”
The dining room table is crafted from a Redwood tree out of California, the top is cut from the center of a giant dead Redwood and measures 8 feet long, 6 feet wide and 7 inches thick. A part of a Redwood branch is used as the base.
“The table was so fun to construct and put together. We used wood you can’t get locally and then fabricated the table in our shop,” Joel said. “If a homeowner wants something specialized and we don’t have it, we will find it for you.”
As the home came together, the homeowners began searching for antiques to add throughout the space. They found old kerosene lanterns, copper pans, tins, hutches and tools. The family even found an old electric toaster oven from the early 1900s that still works, allowing you to lay the toast down on its sides.
“We gave all our ideas to Joel and Laura and they took the pile and created something amazing,” the family said. “The Sutton’s are so talented.”
After several summers at the cabin, in 2016, the family had a two-story garage built. The addition is designed to mimic a farm barn and was created by Sand Creek Post and Beam out of Wayne, NE, now part of the Timberlyne Group.
The family also loves the breezeway which is filled with windows and leads out to the lake.
“It’s my favorite room to relax, and I love how the sun pours through the windows,” the homeowner shared.
Most recently, the homeowner finished the basement. It has always been a giant available room, but the space wasn’t needed until more recently. On the south wall, they crafted a huge chalkboard, hoping for future grandkids to someday enjoy. The rest of the walls incorporated patina corrugated steel and rustic car siding.
“This is a beautiful cabin for this family,” Joel said. “We loved helping them create their dream getaway.”
The family enjoys the property for hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling. They enjoy beautiful Bad Medicine Lake, relax by the outdoor fire pit or love reading down by the dock. The family’s son has added over 200 native trees to the property, digging up the local seedlings and replanting them.
“We so enjoy having family and friends join us,” shared the homeowners. “We love what Clearwater Construction Company and Andersen Log Homes created and designed for us, giving us a place to relax and enjoy life. We are so lucky that all of our hard work has allowed us to enjoy this area so much.”
For more information on Clearwater Construction, they can be found on Facebook or at clearwaterconstructionmn.com and Andersen Log Homes at andersenloghomes.com.