Before and After: The Minne Stuga Cabin

Melissa Coleman, known as The Faux Martha, completely renovated her northern Minnesota cabin, The Minne Stuga. See the dramatic before-and-after photos of the incredible transformation.

October 7, 2022

From the moment Melissa Coleman, designer and minimalist blogger known as The Faux Martha, first saw the cabin she named The Minne Stuga, she knew it was a special place. Located in Grand Marais, Minnesota, the part A-frame, part chalet-style cabin was tucked amid tall pines as if straight out of a fairytale. It was perched on a low-grade hill and overlooked Devil Track Lake, evoking pure Northwoods charm. While it was certainly love at first sight for Coleman and her family, the cabin demanded a makeover.  

“When we first walked into the cabin, you couldn’t actually see the lake,” Coleman said, describing the floor-to-ceiling windows as permanently fogged. In addition to limited lake views, the cabin itself was dilapidated and the interiors were dated. 

“We knew we’d have to fix the neon green and orange carpet,” Coleman said. “Oh, and the failing windows, and the leaky roof, and the wobbly deck.”  

In 2020, Coleman recruited collaborators to begin the ambitious restoration of The Minne Stuga. That team included Taiga Design and Marvin, as well as a host of other Minnesota-based companies. Coleman was purposeful about her decision to work with local businesses because she’s passionate about “investing where your feet are,” and in this case, it’s Minnesota, through and through. The result is a dramatic renovation that shows off Minnesota cabin culture at its finest. What follows are some of the transformation’s most dramatic before-and-after images.  

Let There Be Light in the Loft

The loft on the cabin’s second floor had all the makings of arguably the best space in the whole cabin, with elevated views out to the deck and lake beyond as well as a playful, lofted lookout above the living room. It was also full of great nooks in which to curl up and read a book or sip a cup of hot tea.  
However, the space needed a boost. The updates took the loft to an entirely new level of design and craftsmanship, thanks in large part to the addition of innovative windows. Award-winning Marvin products including two Marvin Awaken skylights and the Marvin Skycove, an immersive glass alcove that juts out from the cabin to create a highly coveted relaxation space, work in tandem to amplify the natural light that spills into the loft.  

Living and Dining, Modern-Cabin Style

Downstairs, the living room and adjoining kitchen plus dining room were almost unrecognizable when the renovation was complete. Updates included replacing the windows and doors that Coleman described as “permanently fogged” with a Marvin Ultimate Sliding French door, Ultimate Picture windows, and Ultimate Polygon windows. The new wall of glass properly framed the majestic trees and lake beyond—a classic cabin view to enjoy while brewing coffee in the morning. Coleman notes that the expansive windows are a constant reminder to get outside and enjoy nature.  
Meanwhile, the compact dining space saw stylish upgrades with modern lighting accents and an Ultimate Picture window that framed the verdant forest outside. The walls’ original cedar was left intact as a nod to the cabin’s charming foundation and an irresistible opportunity to pay tribute to classic Minnesota cabin vibes.

The stairway passing from the loft to the dining room and kitchen saw quite the makeover as well, shirking its clash of carpeting and dated windows, and instead donning clean hardwood floors, a Marvin Ultimate Picture window straight-on, and Awaken Skylight overhead.

The Kitchen: Heart of the Cabin 

There was opportunity to bump the kitchen footprint out, expanding the layout slightly to allow at least two cooks to share the kitchen. A row of three Ultimate Awning windows pop open to allow crisp breezes to permeate the cozy space. New appliances, updated countertops, flooring, light fixtures, and cabinetry complete the kitchen remodel. Coleman says this new culinary space is ideal for spending excess time “making long-winded recipes or coffee the manual way.” This is a nod to the well-being that The Minne Stuga supports—by offering abundant opportunities to unplug, de-stress, and reconnect with the people you love. The ample views of nature, access to fresh air and natural light invite you to, as Coleman puts it, “melt off the thick coat of stress that [you] don’t always know [you’re] wearing.”   

Outdoor Spaces to Enjoy Nature

The wobbly deck and balcony that Coleman noted when she first walked through the cabin were completely renovated and stabilized. The cabin has two decks to enjoy the fresh Northwoods air as well as one small balcony, accessible from the second floor. The smaller deck is viewable through Ultimate Awning windows, which look out from the kitchen. The balcony overlooks this deck. On the lake-facing side of the home is the larger deck, with enough space for a family to gather and take in nature or stargaze nestled in blankets from Adirondack chairs.  
Coleman attests that The Minne Stuga is the ideal spot to take “time offline to create and be bored, to get lost to get inspired.” In this day and age, this is truly a gift.  

Read Coleman’s account of the Minne Stuga’s completion at her blog, The Faux Martha.  

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