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The railing around the top floor is uniquely put together to avoid using nails.
The railing around the top floor is uniquely put together to avoid using nails.

Exquisitely homey: Perry and Anne Hunter built their house with no nails, only pegged Minnesota White Pine wood

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Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

When visitors walk through the doors of Perry and Anne Hunter's home on Lake Melissa, they can tell by first glance it has character.

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The open floor plan showcases the exposed pegged beams, in which no nails were used to build the house.

Even driving into the yard at 12500 County Road 17, the outside of the two-level house, covered in shakes, has a homey, yet exquisite, sense to it.

It took Twin Cities-based couple years to afford the dream lake home and find the perfect location, but their love for Detroit Lakes goes back just as far.

Perry moved to Detroit Lakes in 1974 to help start the Castaway Club for Young Life. He still works for Young Life today.

"Even after I left, I came back to Castaway a lot," he said.

It was couples Fred and Sue Harker and Dave and Mary Carlson who were instrumental in getting Perry to Detroit Lakes for Castaway.

After Perry was here working, Anne, who was from Los Angeles, flew out to Young Life to work for a month one summer.

"It was such a shock to see the green trees and blue lakes," she said.

When Anne flew in, Perry drove to the airport to pick her up, their first meeting. About a year later, they were married. Anne then taught English at Detroit Lakes High School, while Perry continued to work for Young Life.

In fact, the Hunter's contractor on the lake home was Fritz Zirbel, a former student of Anne's.

Perry said the Harker family has played several pivotal roles in his life in Detroit Lakes. Not only did the Harkers bring him to Detroit Lakes for Castaway, it was during the Harker's daughter's funeral that the Hunters found their perfect building lot on the lake.

"(The Harkers) continued to have an influence where on we live," Perry said.

Once they could afford it, the Hunters decided to find a summer home in Detroit Lakes. In 2005, when back for the funeral, they found the lot on Lake Melissa and it was just what they wanted.

"Being close to the lake, friends and the community was great," Perry said.

Their house has a couple works of art by Kate (Harker) VanDerveer hanging in it.

So, the next step was designing the perfect house to go on the perfect lot. Perry spent time designing the timber frame, or post and beam, house. There was no metal used when building the home; the beams are all pegged with wooden pegs.

"I always thought it would be fun to do," Perry said of pegging.

Minnesota White Pine sets the tone for the home.

The four-bedroom home -- one on the main level and three upstairs -- is nice sized for when their children and grandchildren come home to visit during the summer. The Hunters' daughter lives in Seattle, and their son lives in St. Louis Park with his wife and three children.

"We host friends as often as possible," Perry said.

A couple of the favorite rooms of the house for the Hunters aren't even technically rooms.

"The deck upstairs is really fun," Anne said, "and the kitchen island -- people hang out there a lot."

The deck upstairs is the roof of the main level screened-in sun porch on the front of the house, facing the lake. Perry said they enjoy sitting up on the deck during the summer, of course, but also over New Year's is fun. They bring a small fire pit up and toast the New Year by flame.

But their favorite place is probably the screened-in porch on the main level, they agree. With no worries about mosquitoes or flies, the Hunters and guests can enjoy a view of the lake and the breeze off the lake, all from the comfort of their couch.

"We never thought we'd have a place like this," Anne said. "We couldn't afford it but then we were blessed."

The Hunters said they had planned to buy a home rather than build, but they are happy to have built and get exactly what they wanted.

It's the unique touches that make the home theirs. In the bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs there are little inside windows for character. The loft overlooks the living room and grand, stone fireplace. And picture windows line the lakeside of the home.

There's an office in a nook here, a sitting area there and a "wall of fame" covered with pictures of family at the lake. The bedroom dormers are actually doors opening onto tiny decks for more fresh air and sunshine.

The master bedroom includes a walk-through closet and master bathroom, and a patio outside the glass doors, where Anne said she intended to walk out with easy access to a swim, but hasn't gotten into that habit yet.

The open floor plan is both spacious and welcoming.

The Hunters are working on a landscaping project late this summer, and as times goes on, they said they plan to make other changes to the house they wish they would have done when it was first built.

The lake home isn't just a lake home though. Although the Hunters live in the Twin Cities, they spend quite a bit of time at the lake home.

"We're at a point now with our work, I can do cell, plane ticket and computer and can live here," Perry said.

Anne's job with CAbi (Carol Anderson by invitation) requires her to travel a bit more, but the Edina residents still have plenty of time to be at their Lake Melissa home.

"We did it for a retreat for ourselves and our kids," Anne said of building the lake home.

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