The charm of the home of Peter and Vicki (Chambard) Torkelson of Lanesboro invites neighbors and guests to visit over a hot cup of coffee and opens the door for a stay at their Scandinavian Inn.
The charm of the home of Peter and Vicki (Chambard) Torkelson of Lanesboro invites neighbors and guests to visit over a hot cup of coffee and opens the door for a stay at their Scandinavian Inn.
Many obstacles need to be overcome when deciding to renovate an historic home built in 1892. Peter and Vicki Torkelson of Lanesboro were not expecting the amount of time they needed to invest in this project before actual labor on their home began.

"We bought the house in 2004," states Peter. "We love Lanesboro. Although most recently from the Twin Cities, we both grew up in small towns, and it felt comfortable to be moving here. When we first decided to remodel, we did not know that the house had been listed with the Lanesboro Heritage Preservation Commission and that renovating it, to give us more guest and personal family space, would require extensive planning, paperwork and approval."

Committed to an environmentally-sensitive philosophy, the Torkelsons are constantly looking for ways to focus on minimizing their "footprint on the planet." They installed an energy-efficient geothermal heating/cooling system. They line dry towels and linen, use a hand push reel lawn mower and stay clear of synthetic lawn chemicals.

Meals are prepared at their Scandinavian Inn with a focus on regionally-grown and organic produce they purchase at cooperatives, local businesses, and the farmer's market as well as serving free-range meats and eggs and brew shade-grown, fair market coffees.

When the Torkelsons began with this project a few things seemed clear.

Vicki noted, "We knew we wanted to extend the character of the original home's interior into the addition. We took accurate measurements of our existing trim and had it recreated. And we found old light fixtures and hardware in antique stores and on the Internet."

The trim boards around the doors in the couple's home are unique in the fact that they have a middle block of wood inserted about 3 feet from the floor. Peter and Vicki were able to get a local shop, Gary Thomas Millwork of Spring Grove, to recreate the wooden middle blocks for them, but the detailed cuts into the face of the block were more difficult.

In order to match the existing woodwork, the couple used their shop tools and jigs to recreate these cuts before sending the blocks off for staining and finishing. Special attention was given to the floors, making sure that the transition from room to room allowed a consistent flow throughout the house.

Peter adds, "For the exterior, we had a balancing act to adopt the standards of heritage preservation and still satisfy the reasons we had for wanting more space. We are pretty happy with the way the old and the new portions blend together. "

The Torkelsons hired an architect with experience in energy-efficient design and historic preservation who was also willing to consider all of the individualized features.

"We wanted an addition that would be well-insulated, in contrast to the original portion. We installed geothermal heating, and that added some twists in the design," says Peter.

Building the addition seemed like a constant battle between moving the construction along at a reasonable pace and taking the time to make decisions that they would be happy with down the road.

"We could have easily spent all of our time on planning and never gotten around to the actual construction," comments Vicki.

"Our mason, carpenter, plumber and electrician were valuable in sharing their knowledge of products and code requirements."

Although this persevering couple makes no claim to have an expertise on remodeling older homes, they have learned a great deal about the process and are open to sharing what they have learned.

"We knew we wanted a one-of-a-kind addition, and work to remain patient as our ideas continue to evolve," says Peter.

Adding approximately 3,100 square feet has allowed the Torkelsons an opportunity to carve out private family space in their Scandinavian Inn.

Peter and Vicki welcome visitors to their Scandinavian Inn in Lanesboro. Contact them at 507-467-4500 or or