DRIFT-FREE HOME AND GARDEN: A spectacular Scandinavian home still looking for its forever family

What started as a dream and a wish turned into the best of times – and the worst of times. Scott and Melanie Rutman spent more than a year of their lives building their dream home in Decorah, only to find they were moving in shortly after completion in July 2019.
The house was built in the Bruening addition on Walnut Street in Decorah. This 3,928 square foot home was the Rutmans’ dream and vision. They had priorities for the house, but noted: “Trying to figure out how to start from scratch on a floor plan seemed overwhelming, so we visited a few new development areas around us to help us find a starting point. .” They found inspiration in a floor plan of a house the Rutmans had seen built in a new development in Castle Pines, Colorado, just 20 miles from Denver, where they had lived before moving to hometown Decorah. of Melanie and alma mater.
Melanie is the daughter of Mark and Jennifer Olson of Decorah, and she and Scott, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, married in 2016. When the opportunity arose to return to Decorah to start a new chapter, they knew exactly where they wanted to live. “We were surprised that this lot was one of the last available in Bruening’s addition. It was in such a good position to capture sprawling views over the valley and David [Finholt] did a great job placing the house right in the field to capture them. We even had a perfect view of the Nordic Fest fireworks from our terrace,” Melanie recalls.

Start from nothing
The Rutmans purchased the property in July 2018 and worked with Finholt Construction to build their dream home. The vision came from a house floor plan they had loved in Castle Rock. “Our goal was to have a clean line, Scandinavian-influenced design with lots of natural light,” Melanie said. “Entertaining friends and family was the primary design goal of the space. The open-plan main floor allows several people to comfortably gather around the heart of the house, the kitchen.
While the design looks simple for the house, David Finholt of Finholt Construction said: “Contemporary houses generally look very sleek, clean and simple, but there is nothing simple about building a house to look like to that. The Finholt team got to work and finalized the design and worked with several local contractors to bring this design to life. “The owners literally spent hundreds of hours researching materials, designs and products to get everything perfect,” he added. “They loved the house – it was exactly what they wanted.”

Local skills and expertise
The Rutmans tried to use local contractors and suppliers when available, getting their building materials from Decorah’s Spahn & Rose Lumber, footings and foundation concrete from Steve Falck, exterior retaining walls and flat concrete from Legacy Concrete for the backyard, with additional design input from Pinter’s Gardens and Ridgeway’s Pumpkins.
Decorah’s Tryad Kitchen & Designs has used its 22 years of experience to provide interior design services for clean, open spaces, as well as kitchen and bathroom cabinetry to accentuate the sleek look. There were many additions and final decisions made as the Rutmans explored their options to ensure the clean open concept they were looking for. “The framing, exterior steel cladding, windows and roof were done by Arik Seiler of Decorah, and it was a specialty product with both panels and concealed fasteners,” Finholt reported. “It’s definitely different for the region, and with all the things that are unique and different, it takes more time and more expense.” Finholt noted that open concepts require a higher level of finishing work, as the lines are simple and clean and any mistakes or errors show through in the final product.
“Every project is different, and even the wood look around the main entrance was an aluminum product from Canada, with a faux wood veneer. We learned a lot about getting to Canada with rates and shipping,” Finholt noted. When trying new products, sometimes they need to see what works and have a “plan B”.
“The wide fascia was a steel product, but there were cupping and warping called oil canning, so we redid the entire fascia to remove the creases and achieve a clean, sleek look.”
Johanningmeier Stone from Decorah provided the Cambria countertops for the kitchen and gleaming bathrooms, while Fashion Flooring provided the hard-wearing, easy-care flooring that is reminiscent of nature with its rustic wood grain and soft colors to help camouflage the appearance of daily dust. and footprints.
Bill Fullhart did all the plumbing and heating, and Finholt Construction brought the final design to life with their two generations of home building experience. Anyone can look at plans for a home, but it takes special skill to bring those plans to life with a unique design using specialized materials.

Focus on features
Open spaces, high ceilings, and the use of glass wherever possible not only add to the airy and spacious feel of the home, but also allow for sweeping views of the Upper Iowa River Valley and West Side of Decorah from multiple vantage points, including the covered concrete balcony. The property is within walking distance of the Trout Run Trail loop, Phelps Park and downtown Decorah.
Melanie explained, “We tried to draw inspiration from nature and our surroundings, which is reflected in the color palettes we chose. We found a super unique limestone tile that is used for the kitchen backsplash that we found very suitable for the Decorah area, and we loved the clean look. We wanted the floor-to-ceiling fireplace wall to have a natural stone look. Chad Heying did the job. Walnut is our favorite wood finish and also suited the street we were on very well. So we incorporated lots of custom walnut trim throughout the house with open shelving and a wine rack in the kitchen, built-in cabinets next to the fireplace, vanity in the master tub, bench in the mudroom, and open shelving in the wet bar. . We even found printed metallic cladding with a walnut finish that frames the front entry.
Minimalist light fixtures help draw the eye to the natural beauty showcased through the many windows, with the exterior being as much the star of this home as the beautiful finishes. The open great room offers a fully equipped chef’s kitchen with Dacor appliances and Cambria countertops, as well as a 14 foot floor-to-ceiling fireplace to add to the ambience of combined luxury and comfort.
Other designed spaces include a large veranda suitable for a multitude of uses, from home office, to children’s play area, to yoga haven, to morning coffee nook on a sunny Saturday morning warmed by the gas stove . “My aspirations for the veranda with its two walls of windows were twofold. In the summer, I wanted to be able to open all the windows at night to hear the thunder and watch the lighting above the cliffs as a storm passed. And during the winter, it was a space to admire the white landscape of winter wonderland while snuggling up by the gas stove with a good book,” Melanie said.
The master bedroom – one of four offerings in the house – offers a large walk-in closet and tastefully tiled shower, while the second bedroom also has a full bathroom.
The lower level is designed for play and entertaining with a 30ft x 28ft family recreation room with a wet bar, sliding glass doors to the covered deck, and two large bedrooms with a shared bathroom. The bathroom features custom tile and a family privacy look. “We’ve used this design a few times, and it takes up a little more space, but works great, as the shower, toilet and vanity all have doors to create additional privacy based on multiple users. The entire lower level has direct access to the courtyard as another way to bring the outdoors inside.
Even the attached garage offers three spaces and a dog run in the back to ensure that the four-legged friends are well equipped and have their own space.
Offering plenty of storage options, the house allows all belongings to have a hidden home so the clean lines can help create a calm and uncluttered atmosphere. Perfect for coming home after a hectic day. Walnut accents also featured convenient storage, including open shelving and wine rack in the kitchen, built-in cabinet next to the fireplace, double sinks in the master bath, storage bench in the cloakroom and open shelving in the bar – perfect for showcasing a collection.

The next family chapter
The Bakkums, Jason and Katie, purchased the property from the Rutmans in July 2021 and quickly moved in to own it with their family, two young boys; Ace and Jagger. They too loved the house and all of its unique features, spectacular views, warm open spaces and clean lines.
The Bakkums were drawn to the house and also fell in love with the design and finishes, eventually closing the house, moving into the new space and settling in to make it their own.
But unfortunately, fate had other ideas. The Bakkums find themselves leaving Decorah in June, heading south to Florida for a job opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. The house has been on the market for a relatively short time and could be claimed by a family that the Bakkums outbid last July.
Hopefully, the gorgeous Scandinavian home built from the love of family and friends on Walnut Street will finally find its forever family who can plant their roots in the rich soil of Decorah and cultivate a lifetime of memories. For more information about Bakkum House, contact Harman Realty in Decorah at 563-382-2020.


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