The Hall Cabins are a place for family and friends to relax and enjoy life! The two properties built along the west side of West Lake Okoboji are a haven from chaos – perfect for weekend adventures and summer vacations.
The north property, was gutted in 2015 by Bob Cornell Construction. The footprint of the original house was incorporated into the complete remodel, designed by architect Rehkamp Larson, and completed by Bob Cornell Construction in 2018. The nearby guest house was built in 2020 to provide more space for the family’s guests.
“We really enjoyed working for the homeowner and the uniqueness of each of the homes,” said Elijah Cornell, owner of Bob Cornell Construction. “The whole property was designed for vacationing at Okoboji and made to host a lot of friends and family.”
Creating smiles via comfort and uniqueness is key to many of the building and design decisions. Bob Cornell Construction worked on the 11,000 square feet north property from 2015- 2018. Most of the work was completed seasonally from fall through spring. Major portions of construction were limited or postponed during the summer months so the family could use completed areas of the house. Much of the building materials came from Consumers Lumber in Spirit Lake.
“Every portion of the house was completely stripped down to bare studs,” Cornell said. “It doesn’t look as big from the road, but the home extends towards the lake.”
During reconstruction at the north house, Bob Cornell Construction took what was originally the maid's quarters and enlarged the area by adding two dormers and turning the area into a three bedroom, two bathroom guest accommodation. A third dormer was added to create a new entry into the house. The two-story deck was completely redone, and the basement was enlarged.
There are four levels to the home, including the main level, the area above the garage, the mid level living area (which includes a game room under the garage), and the walk-out basement,” said Kyle Snyder, Project Manager at Bob Cornell Construction.
At times, the challenge was taking the blueprints and turning the measurements into reality. For instance, after fabricating the staircase, the crew used the assistance of a chain hoist to lift the 700-pound stair stringers into place, until they were welded together.
Every brick was removed from the original 16-foot fireplace and new beams were installed to hold up the house.
“It took a lot of manual labor and engineering to keep the house stable once the fireplace was removed,” he said.
Both properties are styled in a midcentury 1950’s look. Unique design features are incorporated from the past, such as the main level flooring taken from an old basketball court out of Wichita, KS. The lowest level of the North house uses handmade tile from Mexico, which creates a challenge as each piece varies in uniformity.
“They are handmade and each tile was different, so it took a lot of extra effort to install,” Snyder explained. “There is also a pattern to follow depending on where you are located; A, B for the edge or A, B, C for other areas.
The North house has eleven bedrooms, with one designed as a bunkroom, and eight full bathrooms and two half baths. The original master bedroom facing the lake was turned into an indoor porch area that incorporates Italian ceramic tile decking, allowing the water to flow out. The doors use a Bi-folding stack door system, which are opened during the summer, and the room’s outside doors use screens to allow in fresh air and keep out the bugs.
Throughout both properties, aspects of the old Milford Bowling Alley from the 1940s have been customized into flooring, end tables, cabinets in the mudroom, and the kitchen island.
Cornell said, "One of the more impressive pieces is the “Miss U Already” 19-ft wooden boat built from scratch by Steve Mills of Mills Custom Woodworking on a kitchen wall in the guest house. The top half of the boat is mounted to the wall; where the engine bay would be located, this opens into a liquor cabinet.”
Other specialty wood displayed in the house is exotic Iroko wood, which is an African Teak Wood and comes from the tropical regions of West Central Africa. The staircases in both homes mimic each other and use 3.5" thick maple butcher block treads.
The doors to the laundry room in the North house come from late 1800s Navy Ships, made from solid teak and mahogany. The port hole windows add an extra touch, while the seating in that area comes from the Milford Bowling Alley.
1950’s Midcentury Design
The white walls of this home are splashed with bright colors! The uplifting atmosphere is found in every aspect of décor, from the lighting to the bedding.
The new appliances look like they stepped out of the 1950s, while an old fender from a vehicle became custom artwork. Some of the blue lights used came from a church and were powder coated bright blue. The homeowner also found an ornament off an old boat and asked it to be made into a towel rack. There are a number of custom pieces like this throughout the house.
The 6,000 sq ft guesthouse also has eight-bedroom suites and 8½ bathrooms, with eight different independent touch pad heating and cooling units. All the colors found in this home correspond with the North house.
“Each room is uniquely styled and is like its own hotel suite. It was a challenge at times to get everything to function; it took lots of engineering,” Snyder said. “It looks like two separate spaces, but a breezeway connects them all together.”
“A lot of the furniture used in the home is new, but designed to look like it was made in the 1950’s,” Cornell added. “The designer, Barbara Clayton out of Wichita, repurposed a number of furniture pieces as well.”
In the game room, part of the floor and wall used the repurposed basketball court flooring. In the bathroom, the wallpaper is made from old newspapers of the area, mentioning stories about the Milford Bowling Alley. There is a customized shuffleboard for enjoyment and old bowling ball parts are uniquely displayed in the room. People can doodle and leave messages on large paper displays on the wall.
Bob Cornell Construction enlarged the steel deck around the North house and created one for the guest house. The deck curves around the house, showcasing the open glass windows facing the lake.
“I think there’s fifty tons of steel on the deck,” Snyder said. “It covers the entire lake side of the house, and has a huge radius. It’s very unique for a 1970s home remodel.”
One final touch will be added this spring, as a neon sign will be installed between the two homes. Custom made, the “old school” sign will say “Halls Cabins – No Vacancy” and will be visible from the road and the lake.
“It was a challenge to find someone to install the neon sign and mount it correctly, ” Snyder said. “The footings had to be down seven feet, and the sign will be strongly fastened, since there can be high wind shear between the houses.”
Bob Cornell Construction created a masterpiece for relaxing and fun along the shores of West Lake Okoboji. Hall Cabins is a magnificent work of construction and design, featuring the modern, eclectic style of the homeowner.
For more information on Bob Cornell Construction, visit bobcornell.com.