From Kathy and Dennis Brekken’s modern farmhouse along the Cannon River, eagles can be spotted soaring across the valley on any given day.
Inside, their Cannon Falls home — custom-built by the Brekkens after Kathy, the former CEO of Midwest of Cannon Falls, retired — is also a sanctuary of sorts.
“We wanted privacy and to be in the country, but have all the things available in the city,” Kathy said. “We really have loved our location with it being 35 minutes away from the [Minneapolis-St. Paul International] airport, because we travel a lot.”
They decided to build a modern farmhouse in an area called Mineral Springs and brought in Minneapolis-based Albertsson Hansen Architecture to carry out their vision. When the home was completed in 2005, it drew accolades, even catching the attention of the New York Times.
Housing three generations
When building the riverfront home, the Brekkens had several must-haves. They wanted one-level living and a connection to nature, so the primary bedroom and en suite were located on the main level.
“Our bedroom has windows on three sides with views of the river. There’s a bluff on the other side. And I can see the moon and the sky from a tiny high window,” Kathy said.
They also wanted comfortable spaces for when their adult children, spouses and grandchildren came to visit. Three guest bedrooms come with either en suites or connecting bathrooms.
And they wanted an in-law suite for Kathy’s mother. So separate living quarters — with a living room, dining area, kitchenette and bedroom — were added to the second floor of the home.
Finally, the Brekkens wanted a home that would have a casual feel while being sizable enough to accommodate a range of activities.
“It’s a large home, but we didn’t want a grand or formal home,” Kathy said.
With the exception of a formal dining room, the gathering spaces have a relaxed feel. Hang-out areas include several dining and seating nooks. Three screen porches (two smaller ones and a larger one with a fireplace overlooking a lap pool and poolhouse) are also among the Brekkens’ favorite places to chill.
“We very much wanted a place where our family would gather. Then when we feel like having our own space, there are spaces where we don’t have to feel like we’re on top of each other,” Kathy said. “We wanted a rambling family home.”
A modern farmhouse
The Brekkens also added custom touches.
“I’m a collector by nature and we had a lot of family things,” said Kathy. “But I didn’t want clutter.”
A French antique pantry she purchased in the south of France was installed in a bedroom wall where odds and ends have a home. “This doesn’t take up any room, but our family’s sentimental treasures are there with us,” she said.
Another one of Kathy’s travel finds — an antique fireplace she scored at a Paris flea market — found a place in the in-law suite with a custom surround with fleur-de-lis flair.
Other custom touches included millwork, in which the Brekkens wanted clean-looking lines.
Storage was essential for the Brekkens, so there is custom cabinetry as well as hidden storage throughout the house. A walk-in pantry in bold fuchsia, green and robin’s egg blue features a rolling library ladder and a slide-out window to the kitchen, which boasts top-end finishes and appliances.
The Brekkens wanted the house to have sustainable elements, so they went geothermal.
“It involved drilling several wells and it was a fairly complex project,” Kathy said. “But we felt that it was the right thing to do environmentally.”
Time to downsize
After living in the house for 16 years, it’s time for the Brekkens, both of whom are now retired, to move on. So they’ve listed their 8,695-square-foot, five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home on a nearly 3-acre lot.
“It’s a home that I have loved every minute of and feel so lucky to have lived here. Life changes and we’re trying to be proactive and think about the next stage in our lives,” Kathy said. “We’d like to be closer to both of our kids and their families. It just seems to be the time now to be more in the metro area and to downsize.”
The Brekkens also enjoyed their time in Cannon Falls, and having access to a nearby bike trail that runs from Cannon Falls to Red Wing. In the summer, the river has a steady flow of outdoor enthusiasts kayaking, tubing and canoeing, but the siting of the house still affords privacy.
“The house sits high and looks down at the river,” Kathy said. “We’re right there, but they can’t see us but we can see them. It’s private like that.”
The 160-acre development where the home sits is limited to 10 lots of 2 to 4 acres, while the surrounding area features hiking and walking trails. The land is owned by a homeowners association with an association fee of $600 a year.
Listing agent Laura Tiffany said the location of the home will continue to offer privacy and ample living space. (The home’s lower level is fully egressed should a future homeowner choose to finish it.)
Tiffany added that a future homeowner will appreciate the quality craftsmanship of the home.
“When you look inside, they took such care of the home that you would think it’s a brand new build today,” she said.