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Photos by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers Armand, left, and Maricela Radke, right, stand in front of the kitchen and island in their newly finished home on the northeastern side of Floyd Lake. After breaking ground more than 20 months ago, they're finally getting settled.

Radkes had nothing but time, and wound up with a truly unique space

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Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
Radkes had nothing but time, and wound up with a truly unique space
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

When Maricela and Armand Radke decided it was time for a change to their small cabin on the northeast side of Floyd Lake, the Detroit Lakes couple consulted many friends and contractors about whether to remodel, or simply tear it down and start from scratch.


The answer was nearly unanimous: start over.

They'd owned the property for 15 years or so, and although it held many memories of parties and summer sun with their children, Phillip, now 22, and Brittany, now 25, the structure had a looming mold problem, and heavy winter snows left the ceilings bowed.

So, during summer 2007, they sold off some of the fixtures in the house (Mari says it was "weird" watching people "scavenge") and broke ground in August.

By the end of that summer, Armand, an optometrist at the MeritCare clinic in town, said the concrete slab for the new house and main structure was up.

The Radkes' new lake place is now finished, and they're in the process of moving in and completing landscaping, but it was the interior details -- of which there are many -- that took the pair the longest to complete.

And yet they had the luxury to take their time.

"We weren't in any hurry," Armand said. "It's not like we were trying to sell a house."

Their year-round house, which is attached to Mari's dance studio where she teaches dance classes and yoga, is located on Summit Avenue in town, but they plan to retire here to Floyd Lake eventually.

"Builders are used to moving quickly and having to get things done by a certain time," Armand said, referring to basic finishes that the builder recommended.

When the couple turned down the basics in favor of something more distinct, like twirly, copper rail spindles on the stairs, the contractor simply said it would take more time.

"But, time wasn't an issue for us," Armand said.

So, Armand and Mari thought of every detail and made sure it was perfect, and they wound up with a truly unique space with a southwestern feel.

The old cabin, which was roughly 1,900 square feet was narrower and had two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom and up a spiral staircase was a loft. The prior owners had added on a few times, Armand said, so many of the rooms were small, and didn't have as much "useable space" as the new home.

The new house has 2,400 square feet (800 upstairs, and 1,600 downstairs), only a 500 square feet increase, but Mari said it feels much bigger because of the height of the new house -- the great room has an enormous vaulted ceiling lined with tongue-in-groove rustic cherry.

Speaking of wood, the house is full of it, and yet doesn't feel overwhelmingly "woody" -- probably because Mari used a different kind of hardwood on nearly every surface for variety. It's not conventional by any standard, but Mari wanted everything "just a little different."

Dark walnut floors and trim are in the master suite, maple in the second bedroom. Brazilian cherry is at an angle to the house on the great room floors, and a mismatchy pattern of white and red oak is in the loft.

Kitchen cabinets are in quarter-sawn oak, but stained in two colors, a few with frosted glass. The main cabinets are more of a natural oak color, with crown moldings in a dark stain. The bar is the opposite: the dark stain with natural accents.

And because they wanted a darker granite countertop in on the main cabinets, they chose a lighter shade of granite for the bar for contrast.

And if all that sounds like too much variety, one thing keeps it tied together: the slate tile, with a subtle sheen, in the foyer runs through the mudroom, main hallway and kitchen, and returns in the accents on the adobe-style fireplace and in front of the double doors leading to the lake.

"We wanted wood or tile throughout the house," Mari said.

They had carpet in the old cabin, she said, but sand from the beach is much easier to clean off hard surfaces than with carpet.

Lake life details like tracked in sand, or lights along the staircase from the loft for dark nights were all taken into account when designing the home.

The loft is large -- Mari said she planned to do yoga there, Armand can store his music equipment, and there's still plenty of room for two twin beds, a long window seat hinged for storage, little antique cars and a souvenir miniature coffee cart from Costa Rica.

Big picture windows, topped with tiled arches, face both the lake and Ironman Golf Course to the southeast of them.

The windows on the golf course side are all impact resistant, too, Armand said, a detail he thought of since they'd had some broken windows in the old cabin.

Sinks for the kitchen and both bathrooms were one of the only things they imported, all of hammered copper. A large farmers-style sink is in the kitchen, and in the master bath, a round copper sink with flowery in-lays.

Outside, a few pergolas, wood-slat topped overhangs that they hope to grow vines over, are still under construction, but will accent the beige siding.

On the lakeside, they moved the house's footprint 10 feet back from the shore after mitigating with county officials, and employed their son's landscape architect friend to help come up with a "permeable" design for stone pathways to the lake so as to not break new lakeshore regulations.

Through the whole process, though, the couple knew what they wanted, and Armand defaulted to his wife on major decisions.

"You don't now how many magazines we looked at ... and took pictures of everything in restaurants and on vacation," Armand said. "It's (Mari's) one chance to build a house."

And yet, at the end of the day, it seems to be all about the memories from the past and for the future.

"The kids grew up here," Armand said. "We play in the lake some, fish some, water ski, but it's mostly about watching the sun go down at night. You can't beat that. And it's perfect for looking at the stars."