Linden Hills Couple Build Their Dream Home

Tucked behind Bde Make Ska (formally Lake Calhoun), on a block lined with trees and sheltered from the busy atmosphere of the lake, is a generously sized gray house with a cozy front porch. It blends seamlessly with the other homes in the Linden Hills neighborhood, but if you look up the address on Google Maps, all that shows up is an empty lot. That’s because this home is new to the neighborhood, and to owners Tom and Lynn Sojak, the couple who dreamed up the space, it is nothing short of what they imagined. The home was featured in the 2018 Minneapolis-St. Paul Home Tour, but in case you missed it, City South Magazine has your inside scoop on life by the lake.      

The Sojaks moved to Minnesota from Toledo, Ohio to be closer to their grandkids. The couple’s first home in the state was also in Linden Hills, but when it became apparent that they needed a home where they could age in place, the Sojaks were faced with a decision: either update their current home or move somewhere else. “I actually happened to be walking down the street with the dog and I saw a sign that said ‘Lake Country Builders For Sale,’” says Lynn, referring to the lot that would later become their home. Lake Country Builders had built the couple’s previous home and the stars seemed to align in perfect formation for the Sojaks to build their dream home. “We trusted the builder, we loved the location of the lot, so we decided then to build a house from the bottom up,” says Tom.

The house they built is filled with light—it spills in from the many windows and two screened-in porches, and brings the outdoors in. The space has an open quality and rooms flow into each other with ease—each detail standing out. One special detail on the main floor is a row of folding windows that leads to a screened-in porch. The kitchen is large and spacious with stainless steel appliances, and a coffee corner tucked near the back door is complete with a smart coffee bar which can be programmed to remember the couple’s favorite drinks. The corner is painted a bright salmon pink and is one of many pops of color throughout the house. In the main floor bathroom, as with all the bathrooms in the house, different colored smooth stones line the floor like the bottom of a babbling brook.  
An elevator, one of the key features in the Sojak’s home, can transport them to the many other delights throughout the house, and it was one necessity the couple needed in their forever home.“It became apparent that we would need one,” says Lynn, “with knees and arthritis.” Take the elevator down and you’ll find another special detail of the house—the exercise pool, complete with a flat screen TV. Lynn is an avid swimmer, so the Sojaks knew that they wanted a pool from the beginning. The Sojak’s lower floor is not a typical basement. Bright with sunlight, the space is an entertainer’s dream. The elevator opens to a large space with a cozy sitting room complete with a full bar. Also in the sitting room is a little door to a computer that controls features of the house—that’s right, the Sojak’s home is more than just looks, it’s also smart, meaning that Tom and Lynn can control things like heat and lighting right from their smart phones.

Upstairs houses their grandchildren’s room—filled with color, a bunkbed, art, toys and a secret, fort-like space with a window that overlooks the stairs. The second floor is also home to the master suite which is Lynn’s favorite place in the house. The master suite is a series of rooms that glide into each other—the master bedroom, master bath, a screened in porch and Lynn’s office. The master bathroom is straight out of a tropical vacation and the screened- in porch offers a view of the lake and a place to unwind.

Along with relaxation, another detail that unites the space is the colorful art that speckles the walls. This art includes many paintings of their dog, Lucky, and other standard poodles they have owned over the years. Much of it was created by artists from Shared Lives Studio in Toledo Ohio—a place where artists with developmental disabilities come to make and sell their craft.

The Sojak’s are in love with their forever home, but building a space from the bottom up is no easy task. For the massive undertaking, the couple had Lake Country Builders in their corner. Lake Country was started in 1976 by president Peter Jacobson and his wife, Sue. Jacobson’s “right hand man” is production supervisor Bruce Bebo, and it was Bebo who worked on the Sojak project. Bebo has been with Lake Country for over 30 years and both Bebo and Jacobson note that the culture of the company is what sets Lake Country apart. “That doesn’t come automatically,” says Jacobson. “Servicing our customers, taking care of our customers—that culture has supported us throughout the years.”

The process of building the home started with seven months of design work where the couple went back and forth with the architect from A & H Architecture, introduced to them by Lake Country Builders. This part of the process involved many choices—from lighting to paint colors to plumbing fixtures, and the Sojaks would send photos back and forth with the architect as they collaborated in designing the space. The couple praises the work of production supervisor Bruce Bebo for helping everything come together in a seamless fashion.  “He was phenomenal,” says Lynn, “working with the [sub-contractors], working with us—he knows the construction industry inside and out. Bruce is the master of juggling all that.” “I’m glad the process is over with though,” Lynn adds laughing.  

 Now all that’s left is enjoying life in this picturesque home by the lake—complete with a few unexpected adventures. “You hear interesting things from [the lake],” says Lynn. Shortly after the name of the lake was officially changed to Bde Maka Ska, Lynn heard something very interesting. “It was a lovely night to have all the windows open, and it was about 11:30 p.m. or so, and it sounded like there was a party starting over there [by the lake],” she says. “It’s getting close to midnight, so I went out on the porch upstairs to listen and then I started hearing some singing.” Lynn then realized that this singing was a call and response. “There was someone, a male voice, singing in a native language, and then there was a group responding, Lynn says, noting that this went on until about 2:30 a.m. “That was one of my favorite things about this house ... about living here.” And this is only the beginning.