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A special publication of the Detroit Lakes Tribune, Perham Focus and Wadena Pioneer Journal

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Contributors: Michael Achterling Michael Johnson Elizabeth Vierkant Nathan Bowe Rebecca Mitchell Editor: Marie Johnson Publisher: Melissa Swenson Graphic artist: Jamie Holte

Cover Photo: The Stowman Law Office on West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes, by Marie Johnson



WORTH ANOTHER LOOK Revisiting three popular homes from past Detroit Lakes Damien Home Tours

MARVEL OF MASONRY Extensive stonework adds character and charm to a Detroit Lakes home-turned-law office

THE CHANGING COSTS OF CONSTRUCTION Pandemic-related challenges in the Lakes Area building business

FALL PEST CONTROL Tips from local experts

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Worth another look Revisiting three of the Damien Home Tour’s most popular homes in recent history

The annual tour, on hiatus this fall, is set to return in 2022 BY MARIE JOHNSON


or 40 years, the Detroit Lakes Damien Home Tour has unlocked the doors to some of the most beautiful and noteworthy homes in Lakes Country, inviting visitors to walk through and discover the unique styles and stories within. Traditionally held the first Saturday in October, the home tour is a major fundraiser for the philanthropic Damien Society, which distributes the proceeds as donations to a long list of charitable causes in the Detroit Lakes area. Like so many events in 2020, the home tour was a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic; and again this year, as the pandemic continues, the Damiens pressed ‘pause’ on the event once again.

“Asking people to open up their homes to that risk, it didn’t sit right with us,” explains Mara Bergen, a Damien Society member. “We just thought it was the right thing to do,” adds another member, Cheryl Molberg. “It was a collective decision.” Still wanting to support the community causes they care about — food for local families at the holidays, the Boys & Girls Club, Lakes Crisis & Resource Center, Dollars for Scholars and many others — .the Damiens put together a GoFundMe Facebook event this year to collect donations in lieu of the home tour. Donations given to the Damiens will be distributed to local charities and people in need, 100%, just as funds raised from the tour are normally distributed.

Although the Damien Home Tour isn’t happening this fall, the Damien Society is already making plans for the tour’s return in 2022. In the meantime, take a look back at three of the most popular homes in the tour’s recent history, including this remodeled beauty on Detroit Lake, owned by Bill and Velva Strand and pictured in 2019. Fall Home 2019 File Photo 8 | Fall Home 2021

“We’re always looking at ways to keep it fresh and new.” -Damien Society member Cheryl Molberg, on planning for the annual home tour

Who are

the Damiens?

T The large screened-in porch on the historic lake home of Dawn and Kevin Hovland is a feature that still gets talked about by Damien Home Tour-goers, five years after the home was part of the tour, in 2016. The porch sits just 20 feet from the shore of Detroit Lake, an unusually close distance that would not be allowed under today’s building codes but is grandfathered in due to the home’s old age. Fall Home 2016 File Photo

The Damiens assure that the home tour hasn’t said a permanent ‘goodbye,’ but rather a temporary ‘excited to see you later.’ The group is already busily preparing for next year’s tour. Just like in previous years, the 2022 Damien Home Tour will feature a mix of five or six homes that represent a variety of styles and price tags, to suit a broad range of interests. “We have loyal followers who, no matter what’s on the tour, they’re there. But for the others, we try to have a mix of older homes and new homes,” says Bergen. “It’s also fun to throw a condo into the mix, and various price points so that you get people of all ages and budgets. New buildings are fun, too, so you can see the new trends.” “We’re always looking at ways to keep it fresh and new,” adds Molberg. On tour days, Damien members spread out across all the homes, greeting visitors and guiding them through the properties. “People go to have fun, to see the homes, to get décor ideas, remodeling ideas, all of the above; it’s unique to each person, what they take away,”

says Bergen. “Sometimes it’s even tiny details that give people ideas for their own home.” Damien member Gail Grabow says some friends make a full day’s outing out of the tour every year, going out to lunch together beforehand and then doing some shopping afterward. There have even been groups that have rented a party bus to travel from house to house. However people choose to get there next year, and whoever they choose to go with, the Damiens just hope people choose to go, period. Two years without a tour, they say, is two years too long. They’re excited for next year’s event, and to see all the tour ‘regulars’ again. “A lot of people come every year, and it’s always so good to see them,” Bergen says. “We miss it.” In the meantime, enjoy a look back at a few homes that have been popular with tour-goers in recent years. Damien Society members say the three homes featured in the following pages have made lasting impressions on those who’ve toured them, and continue to spark comments and conversations to this day.

he Damien Society is a charitable group of Detroit Lakes area women who meet once a month and work on behalf of the local community. The society began in 1950 after 15 former sorority members broke away from the national Beta Sigma Phi to start their own local charitable group. They recruited 10 of their closest friends to join them. The name they chose for the group is a bit of a mystery. It may have been inspired by the legacy of Saint Damien Molokai, who is known for his selflessness. Or it may be a tongue-in-cheek reference to what the members’ husbands deemed their wives’ twice-monthly meetings to ‘really’ be: “Dames night out.” Whatever the case, the Damien Society is and has always been driven by philanthropy. In the early days, fundraising consisted of bake sales and rummage sales; today, the Damien Home Tour is the group’s main fundraiser. In 2019, the home tour raised almost $10,000. The Damiens support an array of causes with the money they raise. In recent years, for example, they’ve distributed funds to Polar Fest, the Essentia Health helipad project, the Becker County History Museum’s construction project, and more. The group tries to ‘spread the wealth’ between one-time projects and ongoing needs, and has a long history of overseeing the Mitten Tree Project, holding vision and hearing screenings, and providing food and gifts for local families in need at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The group currently has 35 members who meet once a month. Fall Home 2021 | 9

1. THE SOYRING HOME Stylish, earthy, “organic modern”


his eye-catching home at the top of a wooded hill in Detroit Lakes’ Timber Creek neighborhood (off South Shore Drive, south of Detroit Lake) was newly completed in December 2019 by homeowners Eric and Tami Soyring. Damien Society members say the home is well-remembered by 2019 home tour-goers, who were impressed with its fresh modern design and memorably unique style. The Soyrings own Straightline Design, a custom metal fabrication and interior design company, and they did a lot of the work on the house themselves. With help from a Portland, Oregon, architect, they adapted the popular Pacific Northwest “mountain modern” style of architecture — featuring tall ceilings, sweeping views, uncluttered design with clean lines and crisp edges, energy efficiency, and warm textures — to better suit Minnesota’s woodsier, colder look and feel. Eric described the home as “organic modern,” which takes an earthy twist on the classic modern home, adding warmth and balance by mixing minimalism with neutral colors and naturebased décor elements. At the time of the 2019 tour, the Soyrings said they were “loving everything” about the house, including its heated indoor pool, open-concept main living area with large windows, four bedrooms, five bathrooms, fitness and rec room, front office area and back patio with its full outdoor kitchen.

A circular, contemporary-style chandelier provides ambient lighting over the living room. Fall Home 2019 File Photo


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TOP LEFT: This “organic modern” home on a hill in Detroit Lakes’ Timber Creek neighborhood was newly built in 2019 by owners Eric and Tami Soyring. TOP RIGHT: The living room is the first room guests see as they walk in through the main entrance of the Soyring home, and with an open-concept design and floor-toceiling views of the backyard countryside, it makes a memorable impact. Damien Home Tour-goers still talk about the home’s clean and sunny, modern look. LEFT: The kitchen is a balanced mix of crisp modern design and natural materials, tones and textures. Fall Home 2019 File Photos

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2. THE STRAND HOME Best of both worlds


ucked away on a private little dead-end road that shoots off of North Shore Drive near Detroit Lakes High School and meanders down to the lake, the Bill and Velva Strand home has a quiet, country feel, with all the convenience of city living. “It really was all about location,” Bill said in 2019 of why he and Velva decided to buy the property, in 2011. The home was originally built in the 1960s. It was dated and in need of some work when the Strands first went to look at it, but they couldn’t pass up that ‘best of both worlds’ setting. They spent the next several years remodeling, inside and out, and then opened the place up to Damien Home Tourgoers in 2019. Damien Society members today say people still remark about the property — how it’s “just a fabulous home” and a great example of a well-done remodeling project. With a goal to create a comfortable, family-friendly gathering place, the Strands completely redid the kitchen and living room of the main house, removing a dividing wall and opening it up to better lake views. They added on a large master suite, updated a vintage bathroom, built a larger twocar attached garage, opened up the main entryway and created a large laundry room, among other improvements. They also totally remodeled a little guest house that sits out front, adding a loft area in addition to the main bedroom, bathroom, den area and galley kitchen on the main floor.

Large hanging lights that match the island cabinets below provide a decorative contrast to the off-white cupboards in the rest of the Strands’ kitchen, and also enhance the feeling of separation between the kitchen and connected living room.

In addition, they built a new detached garage and a small “she-shed” that Velva uses for her gardening. Evidence of her green thumb is all over the yard, which is lush with extensive flower gardens, trees and shrubs — adding to the overall curb appeal of the property.

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TOP: The Strands bought this home on North Shore Drive in 2011 and spent several years completely remodeling and expanding it, along with its guesthouse and garages. They also did significant landscaping around the property. BOTTOM LEFT: The lake side of the home features the couple’s favorite area of the house — a spacious, covered outdoor living space that they use all spring, summer and fall, whether it’s just the two of them or a big group of family and friends. BOTTOM RIGHT: A cute and cozy guesthouse features a living room, small kitchen, bedroom, and loft area for extra sleeping. Fall Home 2019 File Photos

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3. THE HOVLAND HOME A lakeside slice of history


or many fans of the Damien Fall Home Tour, the fun in visiting local homes lies not only in seeing different architectural and decor styles, but also in discovering the stories and histories behind some of the Lakes Area’s oldest homes. Such was the case with the Hovland family home, featured in the 2016 tour. Located at 401 North Shore Drive, perched right on the edge of the Detroit Lake shore, this majestic “cabin” is the oldest home on the lake, dating back to 1907. Built then as a summer retreat dubbed “The Breeze,” by 2016 it was enjoyed exclusively by its owners, Dawn and Kevin Hovland, along with their friends and family. The Hovlands keep a book of historical facts and old newspaper clippings about the house handy, and are happy to share it with visitors and guests. Mara Bergen, a previous owner of the home and also a current Damien Society member, says the historic home has been one of the most popular and well-remembered properties ever featured on the tour. “People couldn’t believe it was 100 years old,” she says. “People loved it, especially the views of the lake.” The sprawling two-story, 3,500-square-foot home has six bedrooms, three bathrooms, an original breezeway with a stone fireplace, and a screenedin porch that spans the entire backside, overlooking the lake from a uniquely close distance of about 20 feet. The property is one of the closest dwellings to the lake in Detroit Lakes, sheltered from modern-day setback rules because of its age. “The Hovlands are taking good care of that old home,” says Bergen. “They’ve kept the old cottage charm.”

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Marvel of masonry Stone walls and terrazzo floors make Detroit Lakes home-turned-law office truly unique BY NATHAN BOWE For Fall Home


ow here’s a house that’s stone-cold cool. Built nearly 100 years ago, the one-time family lake house at 1100 West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes is easily recognizable to passersby today as the current home of the Stowman Law Office. The 1930s building is a marvel of masonry, with perfectly cut stone selected for its color, fitted into place, and wrapped up like a bow with colored grout work. With a curved, matching stone staircase leading up a hill to the home’s front entrance, its rustically ornate exterior is like something right out of a fairy tale. David Stowman, who runs the personal injury law firm with his son, Jeff, and is familiar with the history of the building, says the stones used in construction were delivered by horsepower, one wagonload at a time, by Ray J.

Anderson. A dairy farmer, Anderson would leave his farm each morning, across the railroad tracks from the airport, to pick up a load from the gravel pit north of County Road 6 and then head to West Lake Drive to drop the stones off at the house. “Sometimes he did two loads a day, then he’d go home and milk the cows,” Stowman says. The skilled mason who worked on the home, whose name is unfortunately unknown today, built it in the mid1930s over a period of likely several years, with help from his brother and a nephew, Stowman says. “The ‘rock guy’ knew what he was doing — he liked certain colors, and they’re split just right,” he adds. “The art of laying stones was a dying art, even at that time.”

Beautiful stonework defines the Stowman building and grounds at 1100 West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes. Submitted Photo / Fall Home 16 | Fall Home 2021

The home’s basement walls and stairs are well-crafted, and made with the same stone as the exterior. Submitted Photos / Fall Home

Stowman learned about the construction of the building in an odd way. About a year or two after buying the property in 1987, he happened to be looking outside when a car drove by slowly, then pulled up and stopped. A man got out and started taking photos of the house. Stowman chatted with him, and it turned out the man’s dad and uncle had laid the stone for the house. “He, as a kid, would mix mud for them,” Stowman recalls of their conversation. “I think it took a couple years to lay the house.”

A photo of the original house shows that it hasn’t changed much in nearly a century.

There’s stonework on the inside, too The interior of the house is as uniquely beautiful as the exterior, with matching floor-to-ceiling stonework in some parts of the home, along with notable architectural and design features like arched entrances and terrazzo (poured marble) floors. The floors curve and flow from the floor to several inches up the walls, the terrazzo serving as a baseboard. Terrazzo was a fixture of art deco construction from the 1920s to the 1940s.

David Stowman works from an office that was originally a bedroom; it looks out from the back of the house.

Stone walls are found throughout the interior of the house, including in this downstairs bathroom. Fall Home 2021 | 17

It was an Italian invention, and old paperwork found by Stowman indicates the labor-intensive work was done by an Italian company. The house is a wonder of ornate woodwork, unique windows, a sunken living room and sunroom, and two wood-burning fireplaces — one on the main floor and one in the basement. The crème da la crème just might be the long, deep bathtub, with a built-in seat, that’s in the main floor bathroom. The home’s original owner, a Mr. O’Leary, apparently made his money in plumbing supply sales. He traveled to expos and fairs, and Stowman believes O’Leary got that jewel of a bathtub at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

The long, deep tub in the main bathroom is believed to have come from the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. Submitted Photos / Fall Home

The woodburning fireplace on the main floor features carved wood. Note the poured marble floors and baseboards. The original dining room of the Stowman house is now a waiting area for the law firm. The chandelier is an original feature of the home. yard curbing, colored, stamped, concrete, etc.

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“It’s just unbelievable, the workmanship. I’m amazed every time I see it.” - David Stowman, on his 1930s-era lakeside property

Attorney Jeff Stowman in an office that used to be the master bedroom on the ground floor.

Jeff made this sign for his dad’s law office back when he was in first grade. Now, it hangs at the office he shares with his dad as part of the father-son team at Stowman Law Office.

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Love at first sight

Stowman says he has loved the house since he first saw it. “One day I was driving by here and a For Sale sign was out,” he says, adding that it was listed with a realtor who was a friend of his. Stowman’s friend was a little incredulous at first: “He said, ‘You don’t want that for an office, do you?’ I told him, ‘Well, until you mentioned it, I thought I did,” he recalls with a laugh. He bought the house, got a conditional use permit for his business, and bought another 25 feet on the west side for a driveway that leads to a parking lot in back. He and his wife, Judy, didn’t do any structural remodeling before moving the law firm in, wanting to leave all the stonework intact, but they have put some work into the house over the years. “There were layers of wallpaper on the walls, and the guy before us smoked cigars and it absorbed the cigar smoke,” Stowman says. They removed that old wallpaper and have made some other improvements since then, such as putting on a new roof and installing new windows a few years ago.

From Vietnam to Detroit Lakes

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The window in a side door that is an original feature of the house.

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A floor-to-ceiling picture window looks out over Detroit Lake in what used to be the living room of the house.

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1967 to Christmas of 1968,” he says. He was there for the Tet Offensive that started Jan. 31, 1968, and was a captain when he left Vietnam. When he came back to the States and launched his law career in 1972, he and his wife knew they wanted to live on a lake, and ended up in Detroit Lakes, even though they had never been to the area before. They ended up raising four kids in Detroit Lakes — Jeff, who helps run the law firm; Mike, an emergency room doctor; Matt, an engineer; and Anne, a pathologist. Stowman’s first law office, which he occupied for many years, was on Front Street near Barber Jon’s. It was conveniently located near the courthouse and post office, two places his staff visited often. But when Stowman asked his staff if the law office should move to the stone house on West Lake Drive, there was no hesitation — it was a unanimous yes. “They just liked the place,” he says.

A one-of-a-kind house

Stowman has made the most of his unique law firm on the lake. One time, “We even took deposition out on a pontoon,” he says. “We took the witness, two staffers and the court reporter and cruised on a nice afternoon. We got some sunshine and took care of business.” After all these years, he still appreciates his stone home office. “It’s just unbelievable, the workmanship,” he says. “I’m amazed every time I see it. Architecturally, it’s kind of a unique place, and the building materials are unique, and the landscaping is unique. It makes for a pretty nice place.”

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The changing costs of construction BY MICHAEL JOHNSON AND



COVID speculation, record demand and subsequent shortages led to wild changes in the building business Volunteer Christian Builders group members lift a new wall into place at the construction site of the new Grace Connection Church in June 2021. Michael Johnson / Fall Home 24 | Fall Home 2021

hile the realestate market continues to be red hot, home builders in Lakes Country have been battling skyrocketing demand and supply costs on a project-byproject basis. But make no mistake, business is booming. For Andy Pettow Construction out of Perham, work has not slowed through the COVID-19 pandemic and the company remains busy building residential homes in the area. “I thought when COVID hit we’d be locking the doors,” says Bill Holtti, project manager for Andy Pettow Construction, about his concerns that work would cease. Instead, the crew never stopped working and have had a steady schedule of construction projects. “We’re swamped right now,” he said in early September. Production was slowed back in March 2020, at the start of pandemic-related shutdowns, with many production centers fearing the economy was going to fall flat. “What ended up happening with the stay-athome orders is that millions of people across the country wanted to complete remodeling projects while they were stuck at

“Lumber prices are coming down, but HVAC, electrical, everything else is going up… But everybody is still pulling the trigger.” -Troy Hemmelgarn, co-owner of Hemmelgarn Builders Inc. in Perham

home,” says Jason Merickel, co-owner of Merickel Lumber in Wadena. “This phenomenon, combined with record low interest rates, created a boom in both remodeling and new home construction.” “Wood production tried to keep up with the surge in demand in 2020, but they never really caught up until early summer of 2021,” he continues. “This created supply shortages, which in turn drove prices sky high. Shortages in several other product categories were a result of new manufacturing COVID-19 protocol, which raised production costs and lengthened lead times on items.” Construction project costs have increased roughly 40% in some cases, according to Holtti. Merickel notes that steel shortages have more than doubled the price and dimensional lumber quadrupled in price. It’s low interest rates that have kept new construction a viable option. “Where they (the rates) are at is a saving grace, based on the cost of lumber,” Holtti says. If those rates were to increase, the industry would likely take a hit. Scott Bristlin, owner of Bristlin Construction in Detroit Lakes, explains that the low rates are offsetting some of the

The Joyful Spirit Church near Wadena was under construction during the summer of 2021. Higher-than-expected construction costs were offset by a low interest rate on financing for the project. Michael Johnson / Fall Home

increased material costs, and keeping builders building. “Over the course of (a mortgage) you can probably get back enough to justify paying the higher prices,” Bristlin says. Lately, Bristlin Construction has been focusing on commercial construction, but Bristlin says he’ll still build residential homes if the right project comes along.

“Commercial buildings are more of a needs-based market for clients,” he says. “If (a client) needs to expand, or build from the ground up…it still remains strong.” He also says his construction business hasn’t been immune to the lack of available workers in the region, which can stretch out a project when the building team is shorthanded. Fall Home 2021 | 25

Projects have also been stretched or put on hold because the lead times for some materials or items have been too long to try and plan around, he adds. Workforce-related freight and shipping delays hold up the delivery of products needed for construction. Troy Hemmelgarn, a co-owner of Hemmelgarn Builders Inc. in Perham, said some of their projects that were supposed to start this past spring have been delayed until later this fall to see if prices and availability of materials improve. Many of their postponements have been for remodels or construction of lake cabins, a client’s potential secondary residence and not their primary home. “Lumber prices are coming down, but HVAC, electrical, everything else is going up, so it’s kind of offsetting the price of lumber going down,” Hemmelgarn said in early fall. “But everybody is still pulling the trigger.” Hemmelgarn Builders is community-focused and tries to build within 15 to 20 miles of Perham. It’s scheduled to complete nine homes in 2021, with four already built and another five to be constructed by the end of the year, which is about average for the company. Hemmelgarn says he’s seen sticker shock on the faces of some clients when they set their eyes on construction plan price tags. “We’ve seen them having to redo the plans, two or three times, just trying to get the price down a little bit,” he says. “Some others have said, ‘Well, we’re not going to finish off the garage, we’re not going to finish the basement right away, but we’re still going to go through with the project,’ kind of scaling back a little bit.” He admits the mood of home construction and real estate still has an uncertain future, because no one knows how COVID-19 variants might come into play, especially in bigger

Hemmelgarn Builders of Perham completed this residential car barn for a client in 2020. Submitted Photo / Fall Home

cities where some building materials are coming from. Garage doors, for example, can take five months to arrive. A window can take eight weeks, compared to a previous wait of about two weeks. It’s not only taking longer, but some materials, such as laminate veneer lumber, are getting allocated with limited distribution, Holtti says. Most modern construction requires materials that aren’t coming in fast enough for the demand. As a builder, if the finishing touches need to be completed during warm months of the year, this waiting game is very frustrating.. “I get homeowners that are upset about it,” Holtti says of the higher costs and wait times. He just tries his best to explain the many elements at hand.

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“Wood production tried to keep up with the surge in demand in 2020, but they never really caught up until early summer of 2021. This created supply shortages, which in turn drove prices sky high.” -Jason Merickel, co-owner of Merickel Lumber in Wadena

Long counter tops are a primary feature of the bar room, which is adjacent to the main car showroom, in a residential car barn completed by Hemmelgarn Builders of Perham in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Submitted Photo / Fall Home

The situation has changed the urgency of some projects. If a customer is ready to get going, Holtti recommends wasting no time in ordering. For those on the fence, Merickel says prices were looking better in many of the key components as of late summer. “Lumber, plywood and OSB have returned very close to the pricing it was at a year ago, which is nice to see, but at some point it will find a bottom and begin to creep up again as the nationwide demand is still very strong,” he says. ”Waiting for prices to get back to pre-pandemic levels may be a lost cause. It’s really been a crystal ball situation the past year, and it is hard to even guess what will happen in the near future. Manufactured items like windows, doors, cabinetry, siding, flooring etc. will most likely continue to rise due to labor shortages, rising freight costs, and other challenges in the environment.”

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The high cost of lumber has hit home projects hard


f the higher costs of home construction have you on the fence about moving ahead with your project, you’re not alone. A survey of 810 American homeowners by Expertise. com showed: ► 77% of home improvement projects started in 2021 ended up costing more than expected due to the price of lumber.

”Waiting for prices to get back to pre-pandemic levels may be a lost cause. Manufactured items like windows, doors, cabinetry, siding, flooring etc. will most likely continue to rise due to labor shortages, rising freight costs, and other challenges in the environment.” -Jason Merickel, co-owner of Merickel Lumber in Wadena

► Of home improvement projects that cost more than expected due to lumber prices, the median cost increase was 40%. ► 68% of those who started a home improvement project but saw the cost increase ended up delaying the project. When factoring in the projects that didn’t increase in cost, 55% of all home improvement projects were pushed back due to high costs. ► 65% of those who delayed projects due to the high cost of lumber planned to restart them as soon as lumber prices drop.

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Mice, hornets and other pests to watch out for



“You just want to keep your yard, or around the home, free f you’ve heard some strange sounds in your walls or seen tiny droppings around your house, you’re going to want to and clear of as much clutter as you can, and that’ll really help check for pests like crickets, spiders, hornets and mice. you either prevent something from coming in or it’ll help you The fall season is when crawling insects and small animals notice more, like sooner…if you do have any issues,” he says. make their way up out of the ground and into cozy places Other insects you might notice around the house more where they might decide to try and stay for the winter. in the fall are Asian lady beetles, which cluster together in Some of the most common buzzing and chirping sounds ceiling corners for warmth, and cluster flies, boxelder bugs, that pop up around homes in the Lakes Area this time of year Western conifer seed bugs and others. You may spy these are hornets, crickets and grasshoppers, according to Nick bugs meandering around your walls and window sills. Stokke, owner and technician of Prairie Pest Control. Spiders, too, start entering homes more in the fall. Lake Fargo-based Prairie Pest and river properties are especially Control has served residential, to spiders, according “You want to keep your yard, or susceptible commercial and lake properties to Becky’s Pest Solutions of in parts of Minnesota and around the home, free and clear Wadena, which serves central and North Dakota for the past northern Minnesota. Treatments of as much clutter as you can.” applied around the outside of a four years; Stokke himself has 10 years of experience in house will help prevent spiders -Nick Stokke, owner of Prairie Pest Control from going inside. pest control. “It’s definitely been a crazy There’s no easy preventative year for them (hornets), they really thrive in the heat and the like that for mice, unfortunately, and it doesn’t take long for a mouse problem to go from bad to worse: Mice reproduce dryness,” Stokke says. There’s plenty of places for hornets to hide, such as in rock piles, wood piles or underneath a cement fast, with up to 10 litters per year, of six to 12 babies each, Becky’s Pest Solutions says. Besides the obvious intrusion slab or deck, but you might spot a large group of hornets, see into your home, mice leave dirty droppings around and can one flying to a nest, or find an exposed nest. carry fleas, ticks and mites. Hornets, along with flies and crickets, buzz around in early While discovering pests isn’t always easy, Stokke says fall and stick around for the turning of the leaves. Stokke says Prairie Pest Control is available for questions; people can keeping your yard clear of leaves, dead grass and other debris send in pictures of a certain bug or droppings to have is important to keeping those pests out. He also recommends them identified. not having long grass.

5 common fall pests, and how to get rid of them ASIAN LADY BEETLES

What they look like: A bigger-sized ladybug. Where they’ll be: Along the corners of walls and ceilings, window sills and door jambs. How to get rid of them: With a professional pest control exterior treatment near doors, windows and soffits. Make sure that gaps and cracks are sealed. You can also use a vacuum to get rid of visible beetles.

30 | Fall Home 2021


What they look like: A small black bug with gaps of red and orange. Where they’ll be: Along the corners of walls and ceilings, window sills and door jambs. How to get rid of them: Make sure gaps and cracks are sealed and pull out your vacuum when you find them. You don’t want to kill these bugs inside the walls, as that would bring in other pests.


What they look like: Black and yellowstriped flying bugs, similar to wasps but larger. Where they’ll be: Hives are nestled under eaves and cement or in the ground or foundation walls; you might see the hornets in rocks or wood piles. How to get rid of them: The exterior of your home is your focus, with either peppermint oil on cotton balls placed around the outside, or a professional treatment.

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What they look like: Small, gray, furry rodents. Where they’ll be: Inside walls, cupboards and closets, mostly; at night, you might hear them scratching and scurrying. You might also see mouse droppings around the house. How to get rid of them: Seal or cover any openings from the outside of the house to the inside, even tiny ones. Place mouse traps with cheese or peanut butter in locations near food sources, and change locations every few days.


What they look like: With eight long, skinny legs and a yellowish brown color, American house spiders are the most common. Where they’ll be: Both indoors and outdoors, such as by doors, windows, under eaves and decks and deck railings, in basements and corners. How to get rid of them: Spray entryways and gaps with vinegar and water. An exterior professional treatment will also help. Vacuum up visible spiders and cobwebs.

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“There’s no right or wrong way to decorate, and anyone can do it. Don’t be afraid to try.” -Elaine Bistrum and Cheryl Hammers, Lady Slipper Garden Club members

‘Use what you have and what you can gather’ Nature-based fall home décor you can make yourself BY ELIZABETH VIERKANT For Fall Home


very great recipe for nature-based fall and winter home décor starts with two main ingredients: A dash of creativity and a pinch of preservation. If you’ve got those two important starters, then you can cook up virtually anything to give your home some seasonal flair. Ornamental displays of pumpkins and squashes, arrangements of dried flowers, grasses and corn stalks, and fresh holiday wreaths are just a few of the many cold-weather decorative creations you can make for yourself, at no or low cost. You don’t need to be a professional home designer, artist, or even a master of Pinterest to make things you’ll love — just start simple, and take on projects that fall within your comfort zone. Projects can range from a quick set-up of a pair of pumpkins on your front stoop to a large assortment of statement-piece wreaths and centerpiece arrangements. “There’s no right or wrong way to decorate, and anyone can do it,” say Elaine Bistrum and Cheryl Hammers, who are both experienced DIY décor-makers. “Don’t be afraid to try.”

Bistrum and Hammers are avid gardeners and active members of the Lady Slipper Garden Club in Perham; Hammers is the club president, and Bistrum is the treasurer. They, along with other members of the club, often use things grown in their own gardens and found around their yards to put together fun seasonal adornments for their homes, all year long. “(Having a nice living space) just uplifts spirits,” Bistrum says. “It feels good to know that you did that.” Materials like dried grasses, leaves and flowers, sticks, fall-harvest garden vegetables, pinecones, acorns, hay bales and corn stalks can be transformed with relative ease into eye-catching home decorations. Last year, for example, garden club members made winter projects out of twigs, branches and pinecones. Bistrum made a basket arrangement, and another club member, Bette Betterman, made a welcome sign. Others made gnomes out of pine tree branches. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money,” Hammers says of collecting materials. “Use what you have and what you can gather. Keep it simple.”

Spreading out some seasonal elements of nature, like pumpkins and leaves, is an inexpensive and attractive way to decorate a tabletop for a fall meal. To take the effect up a notch, spray paint a few of the centerpieces in modern seasonal hues like matte gold, seen here, and add message cards to further set the tone. File Photo / Fall Home 32 | Fall Home 2021

The search for materials is part of One fairly easy way to “make it the fun of nature-based décor-making. your own” is to customize your color It might be a solo mission that stirs scheme. A basic fall table arrangement the creative process — a peaceful walk of a few small pumpkins and gourds in the woods — or it may be a social can be taken to the next level with experience shared with friends and a quick coat of shiny or glittery fellow decorators. It can also be an spray paint, in a mix of two or three opportunity for quality family time, complementary colors. To keep the especially with young kids, who love a look classy, choose modern tones that good “scavenger hunt.” Hammers says still ring true to the season, like matte she likes to go to Otter Berry Farm golds and coppers, or colors that blend with her family to collect squashes, or contrast well with the other décor gourds and pumpkins. throughout your home. Nature-inspired artificial materials For additional seasonal home décor are an option, too — to keep costs ideas, and to find some hands-on down, look for materials like artificial make-and-take opportunities, visit leaves and pumpkins at thrift and local craft and home design stores discount and look for stores. local classes “You don’t need to spend or special Once you’ve got a décor-making a lot of money. Use what good stash events offered of materials, you have and what you can through it just takes community gather. Keep it simple.” a little education inspiration -Cheryl Hammers programs to put them and garden together into a workable, appealing centers. Local University of Minnesota design. The internet is a fast, free and Extension offices are a resource easy place to find all sorts of seasonal for growing and gathering natural home décor ideas and how-to guides materials, as are gardening groups like for DIYers. Just search for something the Lady Slipper Garden Club. like “pumpkin arrangements” or “pine “If you’re interested in (making your branch arrangements,” and allow your own natural décor), this is the place creativity to flow. to be,” says Betterman of the Lady Hammers recommends Pinterest as Slippers. “You learn a lot.” a particularly helpful online resource, To join the club, or just find out though she cautions with a laugh that, more information about it, visit “(Your finished decoration) won’t look the Lady Slipper Garden Club on like the Pinterest picture. But you can Facebook, or email Hammers at make it your own and go from there.”

Fall décor how-to #1: Drying flowers


here are a few different ways to dry flowers, as well as leafy plants and long grasses, but the simplest way is also usually the best: hang them upside down for a while. ► Cut the flowers to your desired stem length on a dry day, when there’s no dew or other moisture on the plant, and remove any unwanted foliage. ► Hang the flowers, either in small bundles or individually, in a basement closet or other cool, dark, dry spot. They should be hung from the lower parts of their stems, flowers faced down, using string or twine or something similar. ► If bundling, use a rubber band to keep the bundle together (stems shrink when drying and you don’t want the flowers to fall and get damaged). ► Leave the flowers alone until they feel dry and stiff to the touch. This could take several days or weeks, depending on the type of flower. ► Some types become quite delicate when dried; a gentle spray of hairspray all over the plant can help keep them from falling apart.

Hydrangeas are one of the easiest flowers to dry; they tend to retain most of their original shape and color, and will usually dry nicely just by being left out in an empty vase. File Photo / Fall Home

KNOW YOUR gourds, squashes and pumpkins There are 800 species that belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, but the ones that are best known are pumpkins, squashes and gourds. The main difference between those three is their intended purpose — whether they’re ornamental or edible. Squashes Squashes come in summer and winter varieties. Winter ones do not actually grow in the winter; in fact, they’re harvested in late summer and early fall, but the name references the hard shell casing that protects the tender pulp inside. Zucchini are summer squash because their outer flesh is tender, while butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and hubbard squashes are winter squashes because they feature a tough skin. Even though it takes some effort to crack that shell, the dense, nutrient-rich flesh inside is well worth the workout. Gourds Gourds are essentially ornamental squashes; they aren’t cultivated for eating. Instead they are bred to look beautiful and unique in autumn centerpieces. Types of gourds include autumn wing gourds, warted gourds, turban gourds and bottle gourds. Each gourd is unique in its shape and color. Pumpkins Pumpkins come in ornamental and edible varieties. Even though all pumpkins can be consumed, some taste better than others. Small pumpkins tend to be decorative because they do not have enough meat inside to make them worthy of cooking, while others, like sugar pumpkins, are best for baking and cooking. Fall Home 2021 | 33

Fall décor how-to #2: Carving a long-lasting jack-o-lantern


arved pumpkins may last a week or two, while uncut pumpkins can last for a month or more. Keeping pumpkins hydrated and mold-free will prolong their lifespans. Here are some tips for a longer-lasting jack-o-lantern. ► Pick a local pumpkin. Pumpkins that have been shipped miles and miles in hot cargo trucks may be overly ripened or battered. Pumpkins that were grown nearby may be fresher, and thus last longer once carved. ► Pick a sturdy pumpkin. Inspect the pumpkin of your choosing carefully, looking for gouges, spots and holes. Even a small blemish can quickly expand into a mushy mess. Select pumpkins with even color and firm flesh, and make sure that the pumpkin doesn’t feel tender when you push on the skin. ► Don’t carve too early. It can be tempting to carve a jack-o-lantern as soon as the calendar turns to October, but it’s unlikely the finished product will last until the end of the month. Horticulturists indicate that jack-o-lanterns have a shelf life of roughly five to 10 days, though especially cold weather can shorten that life expectancy even further. If you want your carved creation to greet trick-or-treaters on Halloween, wait to carve it until a few days before the big day. ► Use a dry-erase marker to outline a design on the face of the pumpkin, to alleviate mistakes before you cut. ► Don’t sever the stem. Pumpkin carving experts say removing the top cuts off the vine, which supplies the pumpkin with nutrients and moisture even after it’s been cut. A hole in the back of the pumpkin will still provide easy access for lights, without cutting off the stem. ► Scoop everything out. The interior of a pumpkin is

34 | Fall Home 2021

You work hard to carve that jack-o-lantern; try to make it last. File Photo / Fall Home

loaded with seeds, which can be removed and roasted to make a savory snack. In addition to removing the seeds, be sure to get all of the pulp out. Pulp left in the pumpkin will get moldy and that can shorten the lifespan of a jack-o-lantern. Try to scrape the walls of the pumpkin thin, to about a oneinch thickness. ► Avoid candles when lighting the interior of the jacko-lantern. Candles might seem like the most authentic and spooky way to light the interior of a pumpkin, but the heat produced by a burning candle can shorten the life expectancy of the jack-o-lantern. A battery-powered LED light won’t give off much heat and will provide ample illumination. ► Coat the pumpkin. Commercially sold pumpkin preservation products, such as Pumpkin Fresh, hold up well. Soaking and spraying carved pumpkins with a bleach-andwater solution can also preserve designs.

Fall Home 2021 | 35

Fall décor how-to #3: Make a holiday wreath

► One of the easiest ways to make a wreath is to design it around a circular floral foam form. Supplies needed to make the wreath include sprigs of evergreen, ribbon, floral wire, bows, and artificial or dried berries. Working around the foam form, arrange the boughs of evergreen, using the floral wire to wrap or pin them onto the foam. Keep the layers coming until you get the desired coverage. Embellish with a ribbon or bow. ► Another way to make a wreath is to create a wreath jig. Cut a dollar-store laundry basket bottom from the top ring to make a template, on which you can place wreath-making materials so they keep their circular form. Use floral wire or natural jute string to tie the materials together. Experiment with fresh evergreen, twigs, holly branches, or whatever materials you choose. ► Thick card stock also can serve as a wreath template. Attach dried flowers or greens, spray snow, ornaments, or other items to the card stock ring with a firm adhesive. ► If you don’t want to start entirely from scratch, many craft stores sell wreath forms made of natural vines that have been strung in a ring. You can purchase one of these and use it as a starting base for your own additional decorations.

36 | Fall Home 2021

It’s not hard to find premade wreaths at stores around the holidays, but making your own can be a fun and memorable activity. File Photo / Fall Home

Fall Home 2021 | 37

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Profile for Detroit Lakes Newspapers

Fall Home 2021  

A special publication of the Detroit Lakes Tribune, Perham Focus and Wadena Pioneer Journal ◆ A LOOK BACK AT THREE POPULAR DAMIEN HOME TOUR...

Fall Home 2021  

A special publication of the Detroit Lakes Tribune, Perham Focus and Wadena Pioneer Journal ◆ A LOOK BACK AT THREE POPULAR DAMIEN HOME TOUR...

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