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Building for


rebuilds his home

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T2 Saturday, April 15, 2017

Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

Couple gets creative with new addition Quackenbushes build more room in Chokio

Rae Yost Morris Sun Tribune On the outside, it’s a nice looking garage with neat trim and lights that resemble the old farm yard lights. The two-stall garage holds two vehicles for Bruce and Kris Quackenbush in Chokio, but a look inside shows the functional garage holds much more than vehicles. The Quackenbushes expanded their indoor living space with the new garage and attached family room. “We planned this for several years,” Bruce said. The couple has three grown children and has grandchildren. “We needed a little more space,” Bruce said. “There was no more adding on to our house,” Kris said of the tan stucco home that sits near the new garage. “We had added onto the house many years ago,” she said. The couple considered adding a room above the new garage but thought of what they said was an even better idea to add a room at the end of the

Kris and Bruce Quackenbus inside their new garage in Chokio. The garage is functional but it was also built to give the family more room to entertain family and friends. The couple also built a family room addition to the garage. Photos by Rae Yost / Morris Sun Tribune

garage. Although the family room is attached to the garage, the garage area is spacious and more than a garage.

The garage floor is a polished concrete with a center drain for easy clean-up. The walls are bright and functional and include sever-


al built-in shelves. The space has room for other floor shelves that contain items collected by Bruce over the years. The high wall shelves hold at least

six pedal tractors, most of them red-colored. The walls, shelves and floor shelves contain Case International and Farmall collector farm

toys like a combine of the same make and model Bruce’s family once used on the farm. A wooden display case with a glass display top that comes from a former retail store holds a H.M. Quackenbush rifle. The rifle was made in New York by an ancestor of Bruce. A second rifle is a retirement gift from the Chokio Fire Department. Bruce recently retired after 29 years on the department. The couple also made sure there was room for the jacuzzi inside the garage. Kris said the jacuzzi sat outside and was underused. “Nobody liked going out in the snow,” Kris said. The roughly 18-year-old jacuzzi gets much more use now, she said. A ladder in one corner and tools on a table along a wall are signs that this is a working garage. But like many other pieces of furniture used to hold collectables or used to decorate the garage and family room interiors,

ROOM: Page T4

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T4 Saturday, April 15, 2017


Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

A fireplace is a feature the Quackenbushes wanted in their new family room.

ROOM From Page T2

there are stories behind them. Bruce found the wood in a building on his great-grandfather’s farm. It was rough wood, the condition of boards just as they are when cut

ROOM: Page T5







Bruce has a cabinet that allows him to display two important rifles. He received a rifle when he retired from the Chokio Fire Department. He also has a Quackenbush rifle made by a family member.

from a tree log. He did some finishing work and the boards are the tabletop. The legs are old farm posts. The garage has given the couple a recreation and gathering place. The Quackenbushes used the garage for a family Thanksgiving event.




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Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

Saturday, April 15, 2017 T5

Kris Quackenbush uses a ladder to hang baskets and lanterns as part of the family room’s decor.


Kris Quackenbush talks about the chrome table she had stored in an attic of her home for many years. The table is now used in the couple’s new garage in Chokio.

From Page T4

But, when a visitor walks through a door that connects the garage to a family room, they enter a different style of gathering place. The large room holds two couches and a daybed, wall-mounted TV, a fridge and several shelves and cabinets. Again, the Quackenbushes took items inside their home to decorate and furnish the family room. Kris already had the spacious denim couches. “We wanted a fireplace, a snack area...and we wanted it big enough for the two sofas,” she said. Classen Construction built the garage and the room. The Quackenbushes designed both to incorporate what they had and what they liked. A former stereo cabinet found at a thrift store serves as liquor cabinet. Kris used a ladder hung from a ceiling to hang lanterns and other items. “We like to go to flea

Bruce and Kris Quackenbush have several pedal pull tractors on display in their garage. Bruce converted shelves once used in a local store on which to place the tractors.

markets and antique stores,” Kris said. They dug through “their stash” at the farm for different decorating items. “We collect stuff nobody wants,” Kris said with a laugh. But the room and the garage fit their personalities and needs. They like TV home improvement shows and they’ve found different ideas on those. And it was also important the family room and garage were easy to clean. Although they hired a contractor for the large jobs, Bruce and Kris were able to handle some of the finishing work themselves. Bruce built the fireplace using fireplace stones and installed the pine board walls in the family room. He jokes that he grad-

uated from youtube university because he found do it yourself videos on the internet. They created a functional, comfortable garage and family room within their budget. The family room does not have running water or a sanitary sewer connection because of the cost of running a new line from the main line in the street, Bruce said. But, that hasn’t prevented them from using the family room nearly every night, and they’ve already used the building for a Super Bowl party and other functions. Kris already has another idea for the garage. The couple used to belong to a dance club in the 1990s. Kris said it would be fun to have a reunion dance in the new garage.

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T6 Saturday, April 15, 2017

Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

Jenny Maras opens up the the cash register she uses for her business Junk by Jenny. It’s often a conversation starter at junk events.

JUNK BY JENNY Morris woman hunts for treasures Rae Yost Morris Sun Tribune When Jenny Maras is on the hunt, there is no grove of trees, no rodent infested barn or dust covered vacant building that is too much of a challenge for her. “I’ve gone Army crawling through (junk) to save old windows that someone thought was trash,” Maras said. “I’ve Army crawled to pick things from the woods.” “I will do just about anything,” Maras said. She’s a junker. Maras will pick through discarded items to find the pieces she can sell for new life in someone’s home, office, or cabin. It’s not a hobby. “I am a business teacher by day,” Maras said. She teaches at Morris Area High School. “I’m a junker by night,” she said with a laugh.

Maras shows off an old metal medicine cabinet she recently found during one of her many junking adventures. Photos by Brooke Kern / Morris Sun Tribune

I am a business teacher by day... a junker by night. JENNY MARAS, JUNK BY JENNY

About two years ago, Maras decided she “needed to practice what I preach.” She started Junk by Jenny as a business and applies the business rules and practices that she teaches to her high school students. She has a webpage, participates in the annual Junk Bonanza in the Twin Cities and has an annual sale on her yard.

JUNK: Page T7

Maras cashes in with register Rae Yost Morris Sun Tribune Jenny Maras and her mom stopped at dilapidated shed with a flea market sign hanging on its front. They entered the store and met what Maras describes as an unpleasant woman who didn’t seem too interested in customers. While her mom made small talk with the owner, Maras walked through the small shed filled with items. She spotted an old cash register. It was back in a dark corner, even darker than the overall store. Maras had a 10-dollar-bill in her pocket and she wanted that cash register. She and her mom looked at the price tag and figured the price could be $70 but the tag was old and faded. The cash register was a burly cash register, black in color with what looked like brass buttons. Maras called to the store owner who walked to the corner, The store owner peered through her glasses and said the price was $10. Maras said she’d take it. And she placed her $10 on the counter as if nothing was amiss. She and her mom carried out the heavy cash register. Now, she uses it for every junk event. Did she take advantage of the cranky store owner? Maybe, but, “I do sleep Ok,” Maras said. Customers are often surprised the cash register works. It’s often a conversation starter at junk events. Maras will tell the story of the register or talk about how she uses. But don’t bother asking if it’s for sale. “I’ll never sell it,” Maras said.

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JUNK From Page T6

She hasn’t always been a junker. Once, “I thought I was an antiquer.” But several years ago, she realized, the antique pieces weren’t attracting her attention. “They were not my style,” Maras said. She’d rather buy the rusty piece of equipment that a farmer used than a pristine antique in a shop. Maras is not alone in her taste. Junk items are popular in decorating. Buyers will turn a metal basket into a kitchen decoration. Or convert an old chair and combine it with others for a table set. Maras has found “two types of customers.” “One group comes with a Suburban or a trailer, ready to buy,” Maras said. “But my favorites may be those who buy on a whim. Those who end up strapping stuff to the car.” Maras has a mix of

junk items to attract both types of buyers. During one recent afternoon her two-stall garage was filled with junk items. The floor was nearly covered with items ready for the Junk Bonanza in the Twin Cities. “It’s like the Disneyland for junkers,” Maras said. Junk Bonanza has two shows at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, a show in Portland, Oregon and a show in San Diego, California. Maras is a premier vendor at the Minnesota event, something she didn’t think would happen. “There are a lot of big names there,” she said. Big names that viewers may hear on various home improvement TV shows. As Maras steps over several items to reach a particular piece, it’s clear she has the dexterity and skill to crawl and step and climb to find the junk. Sometimes what she steps in or touches isn’t


Saturday, April 15, 2017 T7

Maras gets her entire family involved in her junking business. Her oldest Ethan chimes in about the fun of “junking with mom” in the garage while youngest Claire and husband Jon, also known as “junk hunk,” look on Photos by Brooke Kern / Morris Sun Tribune

always pleasant. “My tetanus shot is up to date,” Maras said. “I always tell her to be careful,” Maras’ husband Jon said. One of the creepiest places she found junk was in an old funeral home, her son Ethan said.

JUNK: Page T8

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T8 Saturday, April 15, 2017

Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

JUNK From Page T7 Jenny Maras, owner of Junk by Jenny, stands within the “junk” that she recently showcased at Junk Bonanza in the Twin Cities.



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“Where the caskets were carried in,” Ethan said of a place where his mom found junk. “There was an elevator where the caskets went. It was daytime but it was still dark.” Creepy but, “she found some cool stuff,” Ethan said. Cool stuff that included 50 chairs. Finds like the 50 chairs in an old funeral home are important. Maras said she doesn’t travel for one or two items these days. She’s interested in finding multiple items in one trip. On one trip, she retrieved many items from a farm barn owned by an elderly woman. “This little old lady just sat there and cried. I could tell she was saying goodbye to an era.” Maras was buying items the woman had collected over the years including 15 desks from a township school. Maras’s children were at the farm. They heard the woman tell the story of how she used those things when she was a child. “They won’t forget that day,” Maras said. Such moments are one of the reasons Maras likes junking. She likes taking items and giving them new life. Sometimes, she shares the stories with a junk buyer. Junking has allowed her to build connections with sellers and buyers and carved a connection into her family. Her two children Ethan and Claire will use sidewalk chalk and ride bikes in the alley while Maras works in the garage to prepare junk items. They go on junk excursions. On a recent hunting trip Jon saw an abandoned farm and instantly thought how much Jenny would enjoy exploring the farm for junk. She’s grateful for the family support including the time Jon spends helping to set up her display at the upcoming Junk Bonanza. And for her parents who allow her to store items in a former dairy barn. “It’s good to see that she is passionate about (it),” Jon said. “It’s a stress reliever for her.” Maras said she and her husband are both hunters, “We (just) hunt differently.”

Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record


Saturday, April 15, 2017 T9 The road view of the Nesvig’s newly built home in Hancock. From the road, you can see the three-stall garage and large front porch Photos by Brooke Kern / Morris Sun Tribune

Building for life Nesvigs design home for their family, future Rae Yost Morris Sun Tribune When Matt and Terri Nesvig decided to build a house in Hancock, they wanted to design a home. But, Terri Nesvig said, she really didn’t know much about designing a home. She found help from the main general contractor KJH Builders Inc. of Hancock, from

various businesses that supplied home interior products, and from the internet in the Houzz application website and on Pinterest, a home decorating and ideas website on the internet. The couple chose KJH as the general contractor, which was key, Nesvig said. The contractor helped transform their ideas into reality. The family was able to move into

the new home in October, about 4 1/2 months after construction started. “When we were building it we knew we were doing things that fit my family,” Nesvig said. “We weren’t building it from a resale perspective” Others may have a different

BUILD: Page T10

A glance up the staircase shows off the light that illuminate the staircase at night and a double-door closet at the top along with Nesvig’s family dog Izzy, who seems to be adjusting well to the move.


T10 Saturday, April 15, 2017

Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

BUILD From Page T9 In the design process, Terri Nesvig (pictured) wanted to make sure there was a window above her sink that looks out to the road.



approach, but the Nesvigs knew they want to live in their home after they retire. The couple had lived in a Twin Cities suburb before returning to Stevens County about three years ago. Terri grew up in Hancock. Matt didn’t grow up in Hancock but he is comfortable with a small town. The Nesvigs knew they didn’t want a second floor. Also on the list were large windows, lots of counter space in the kitchen, storage, large closets and lots of living space. The home is 2,300 square feet on the main level and it has a full basement with three bedrooms, a living room, storage, a three-stall garage, front porch, and patio. Dark wood and beams

are featured throughout the home. Nesvig said she found her main floor living room ceiling on Houzz. The living room has a coffered ceiling. Beams and dark wood aren’t only for the ceiling and the trim. The doors to closets, kitchen cupboards, cupboards in the laundry room and cupboards in the lowest level bar area are all dark with knotty wood. The doors are wide with black handles and hinges. They are eye-appealing as well as functional. A large closet door at the top of the lower level stairs attracts the eye. Those stairs lead to three bedrooms and a living room in the lower level. The Nesvigs have separate wings for their two daughters and their son. Nesvig said it’s unusual since their kids are six and under but it works.

BUILD: Page T11

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Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

Saturday, April 15, 2017 T11

A wash tub sink was a must-have in the laundry room, Terri Nesvig said. Not only did she get her sink, she also got plenty of storage space in cabinets above the washer and dryer and not pictured to the right of the sink.


The master bath features a built-in medicine and jewelry cabinet hidden behind a mirror.

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BUILD From Page T10

The girls’ bedroom are on one side and the son’s is on the other side of the lower level.. The girls’ bedrooms

include walk-in closets and a separate sink in each bedroom. They share a shower and toilet. Nesvig said the walkin closet may seem like a lot of space for two young girls, but, the home is built for the future, she said.

She wanted the separate sink after studying the size of the shared bathroom. The bathroom seemed too cramped for two sinks, so she split the two sinks in one bathroom idea into a sink with counter space in each of the girl’s bedrooms.

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“I felt I pulled off the Jack and Jill (sink) concept,” Nesvig said. “I feel like I accomplished it. It’s unique and different.” Their son’s wing includes a toy storage area under the stairs.

BUILD: Page T12


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BUILD From Page T11

“He loves it,” Nesvig said. He has a double closet instead of a walk-in closet. The bedrooms have egress windows. The girls’ wing also has a separate stairway to the garage. Nesvig said she’s not good at choosing features such as carpet or paint or cupboards but found the businesses who supplied those items helpful. She discussed the colors and features the couple liked and designers provided options from which to choose. The carpet color is the same throughout the house except in areas where a wood floor or laminate floor was installed. The paint is primarily neutral in tones of pewter or gray or ivory. Lighter or neutral colors were import-

ant because of the dark beams, trim and cupboards, Nesvig said. The home also has large windows in the living room, nearly as tall as Nesvig. “I wanted a giant window to maximize the (natural) light,” she said. She also made sure there was a large window over her kitchen sink. “I wanted to look out the window while in the kitchen,” Nesvig said. There are large windows and doors that lead from the eating area to the patio area. The large windows allow lots of natural light in the home. The master bedroom also has multiple windows for natural light. The master bedroom is attached to a large bathroom with a double sink and walk-in closet. A small jewelry cupboard is hidden behind a mirror. All of the walk-in closets in the bedrooms have built-in shelves. The contractor also

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Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

The Nesvigs built a bonus room above the garage for additional storage. Storage is something the Nesvigs’ new home is not lacking.

included many pocket doors throughout the home. “There’s no flapping doors and it saves space,” Nesvig said. Another main feature of the living room is the fireplace located near the window and almost in a corner. The Nesvigs didn’t want the fireplace in the center of the room but felt the off-center location draws attention to it. The stove vent and hood in the kitchen is custom-made and the design resembles a chimney and wood stove base. Nesvig said she trusted the designer to make something she’d like. Other features of the house include a guest bedroom on the main floor, a laundry area on the main floor and a second laundry area in the lower level. A second room on the main floor could be a guest bedroom but Terri uses it as her office. Both Nesvigs work from home. The Nesvigs have a bonus room for storage above the garage. And guests won’t see any cords or wires from TVs or other items as Matt included a smart house design with the electronic brain in the lower level. Matt works in IT and wanted clean space instead of wires and cords. The technology didn’t stop with the internet

The living room features a coffered ceiling, a corner fire place, and large windows to allow in tons of natural light

or Matt’s smart house feature, KJH used the Buildertrend electronic application so the couple could track the bids for each portion of the work and track the schedule. “If there was a change order, the contractor had to explain why…,” Nesvig said. “I could keep track and watch the construction.”

Nesvig said she’s even pleased with one feature of the home she didn’t really want. She’s not a front porch type person but the contractor suggested using dark wood pillars to finish the front with a porch. She likes the porch. She does take a moment now and then to stop and look around.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Nesvig said. Admittedly, she said, there is some sticker shock while building your own home but then, she remembers. “This is our family. This is our life. We are going to spend (many) years here,” Nesvig said.


T12 Saturday, April 15, 2017


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Saturday, April 15, 2017 T13 Jason Brustuen built a bar in this his lower level. He incorporated a Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Gophers logo as well as logos from the Twins and Timberwolves in the bar top.

Jason Brustuen’s new home built on the same spot as his former home that was destroyed in a May 2016 fire. Photos by Rae Yost / Morris Sun Tribune

Brustuen rebuilds his home Morris man’s home destroyed in May 2016 fire

Rae Yost Morris Sun Tribune After losing his home in a fire on May 8, 2016, Jason Brustuen had one simple request to include in a new home at 106 W. 6th St. in Morris. Some may find his request a little silly, he said with a smile. He wanted a refrigerator with an ice and water apparatus on the door. “I got it,” he said with a laugh. Brustuen can smile now after losing his home and most of his personal belongings inside it in that fire. Thankfully, he said, he was out exercising both of his dogs, Smedley and Rebel, on the day of the fire. “I usually take one out a day to work with them,” Brustuen said.”It happened to be a nicer

Jason Brustuen spring day so I took both of them.” When Brustuen returned home, there was smoke coming from his home’s windows. “(The dogs) wouldn’t have made it.” It took time to recover from the shock of losing his house and belong-

Jason Brustuen’s kitchen has room for a table and ample cupboard space.




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T14 Saturday, April 15, 2017

Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

Jason Brustuen’s living room is large and has lots of natural light from large windows. He also installed a stereo speaker system in the walls.

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REBUILD From Page T13

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ings. Brustuen said he went through a grieving process. “The worst stuff is going through the stuff that was wrecked,” Brustuen said. “It may not be of much value but it has personal value.” He spent hours try-

ing to wash the soot from items to salvage them. The soot becomes a gum-like substance while cleaning. “You just can’t get the stink out,” Brustuen said. He was able to salvage his round kitchen table and two small shelves that sit in his new living room. “(The fire) started in


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Morris Sun Tribune/Hancock Record

The lower level bath also has wood and features a shelf to the the left of the shower that can hold towels and other items.

The lower level of Jason Brustuen’s home has more space than his former home. Brustuen will two poker tables and will place TVs in this room.

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the kitchen, (the table) would have been in the middle of the storm,” Brustuen said. “I was surprised at how nice it came out.” Brustuen was also able to use the foundation of his house as the foundation for new construction. “We basically pretty much used the same floor plan,” said Cory Evink of Evink Construction of Morris. But, they were able to make some changes that had big results. “We tweaked a few walls and in the basement,...we opened that up,” Evink said. Brustuen said Evink and Morris Lumber suggested a small closet in a hallway that used what would have been wasted space behind his shower in the main bathroom. The closet holds towels, paper products and other items. He also likes the storage closet that uses the space on the main floor above the steps to the basement. A partially furnished basement became a fully furnished basement. Evink built the house

Jason Brustuen was able to clean and save this kitchen table after the May fire destroyed his former home. The table and two end tables were the only furniture he was able to salvage.

with new trusses on the main floor so the basement did not need support walls or beams that broke up the space. Brustuen had knotty pine on the walls and used the wood for a bar. “That’s one thing I’m really glad I did,” Brustuen said of the light-colored wood. He’s not finished with furnishing or decorating the basement but it will have several TVs mounted on the walls and two poker tables. “The basement was half carpet and half concrete (before),” Brustuen said. Now, he has a fully carpet basement that’s spacious. The basement also has a half bath, laundry area and storage closet. “The basement was fun to do,” Evink said. “He wanted to do the pine. We were able to use a different floor plan because

of those trusses.” The lower level is brighter with new lighting and the knotty pine but the main floor is also brighter overall with larger windows in the living room and bedrooms. The changes didn’t stop in the inside. Brustuen removed brick paving and installed a concrete patio area that includes his hot tub. A new deck is connected to the main bedroom. Brustuen is pleased with the rebuild and the process. “Cory was on time and he got things done,” Brustuen said. And, “You could talk to him. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to contractors.” “I think he liked to know what was going on,” Evink said. “It helped us to know how he liked to do things.”

320-392-5496 Tony Messner


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2017 Spring Home Improvement  

A special supplement to the Morris Sun Tribune and Hancock Record highlighting local home improvement projects

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