Mother Earth Living


Lake Effect: A Minnesota Cabin Renovation Creates an Earth-Friendly Home

A homeowner’s deep commitment to understanding the materials she uses— where they come from and how they’re made—makes all the difference.



Medora Woods’s cabin lies in a forest near Tofte, Minnesota, on the edge of Lake Superior. The cabin embodies the ecology and cultural history of the land, as well as with Medora’s commitment to treading lightly on the environment. This sitting area on an outside deck yields a grand view across the Great Lake and a visual meeting of land, water, and sky.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Down a picturesque dirt road—within a layer of forest—is Medora’s cabin, built in 1947.
Photography By Terrence Moore
A row of clerestory windows opposite the curvature of the ceiling allows light to pass through and wash the walls and roof as the day progresses.
Photography By Terrence Moore
The cabin’s roof was actually taken off and rounded to maximize sunlight and warmth.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Medora’s bathroom greets the outside with these high windows from Loewen. An Inuit whale-bone carving from Sivertson Gallery (in Grand Marais, Minnesota) sits in the windowsill.
Photography By Terrence Moore
The cabinetry in the kitchen was fabricated by Tofte Construction and made of recycled wood from Duluth Timber Company. The kitchen countertop is made of Lake Superior Greenstone, among the oldest rock on the planet at 2.6 billion years old. Granite Designs, in Longville, Minnesota, helped design it.
Photography By Terrence Moore
The bric-a-brac on this shelf was salvaged from the original cabin.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Medora Woods calls herself a “roving, trouble-making grandmother.”
Photography By Terrence Moore
The cabin floor plan was expanded minimally from its original design to reduce upsetting new land.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Tofte Construction helped with the excavation for this garage. The soil and vegetation uprooted in excavation were subsequently redistributed.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Medora Woods’s cabin lies in a forest near Tofte, Minnesota, on the edge of Lake Superior. The cabin embodies the ecology and cultural history of the land, as well as with Medora’s commitment to treading lightly on the environment. This sitting area on an outside deck yields a grand view across the Great Lake and a visual meeting of land, water, and sky.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Medora carefully collected the lumber for this project from recycled and sustainable sources. Architect Sarah Nettleton, designer Doran Thayer, and furniture maker Marc Gasslund were collaborators.
Photography By Terrence Moore
Simple furnishings complete the sleeping quarters. Bedding came from the Garnet Hill catalog (garnethill.com), and furniture maker Marc Gasslund built the bedside tables.
Photography By Terrence Moore
The artwork above the tub is cut Inuit stone. Artist Diane Daniels made the mirror and frame. The bathroom counter, as in the kitchen, is made from local Lake Superior Greenstone.
Photography By Terrence Moore











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