Stoney Ridge owners build lighthouse for Airbnb
Before Dean and Donna Lange, owners of Stoney Ridge in Burtrum, built an Airbnb tree house, it took Dean quite a long time to convince his wife to do it. Since the tree house opened in 2014, their Airbnb has been a popular place for many guests to stay. It simply gives them a unique experience while enjoying the peace and quiet in the woods of Minnesota.
Contemplating how full their bookings have been over the years, the couple decided to expand their business. Wanting to offer another unique Airbnb experience, they considered building a boat, but in the end, they chose to offer something greater — a lighthouse.
“We had never built one before, but we liked the uniqueness of it. There are a lot of Airbnbs we stay at times and love them, but the uniqueness of the tree house drew people. We decided that if we did another rental that it needed to be more than just a cabin,” Donna said.
Lighthouse also happen to be something Dean has loved for many years. Interested in historic architecture, as evident by the covered bridge leading to the tree house, a lighthouse was the right choice, he said.
Before starting the actual building project, Dean studied lighthouses and sought counsel on how to build one. Finding someone who had actually built one before was difficult. Given the different angles on a lighthouse, Dean resorted to building a model of it first to get a better idea of how it all fit together. It was easier said than done, but was eventually a success.
The Langes started working on the tree house in August 2019. Dean and Donna are very thankful that their son, Sam, has his own excavation business. Not before long, the road to, as well as the location of, the lighthouse was finished.
Dean said while regular houses usually have an 8-inch thick foundation, the lighthouse foundation measures 2 feet. It was also built 5 feet into the ground to hold the weight of the six-story lighthouse and to withstand wind.
The main floor includes a bathroom with a large shower, a bedroom and a kitchen and living room area. Staying true to the nautical theme, the flooring on the main floor is tiled with a medallion in the form of a compass and star placed in the center.
The large windows, typically used at highrises, provide a lot of natural light to the room. Dean and Donna also plan to eventually hang a chandelier from the ceiling.
Heavy wood beams as a staircase, along with a wood railing, curve the way up to the second floor — an area the Langes refer to as “the loft.” It will be a place where guests can relax, watch television and sleep.
The heavy wood beam staircase continues onto the third floor, which features another bedroom and a bathroom. Each bedroom, including the one on the fourth floor, has a unique ceiling design. As lighthouses are built at an angle, Dean said he built the walls near the staircases at an angle, as well. By doing so, there is more room for those climbing the stairs, he said.
The fifth floor is referred to as the “viewing room.” Installed with six large round windows and distressed sky blue-stained walls, guests can view nature and wildlife as well as relax around the round table Dean made from a large stump.
The sixth floor is where the beacon of the lighthouse is located. Although the floor is currently accessible by a regular ladder at this time, Dean plans to build a slanted wood ladder.
Donna said the plan is to eventually add chairs to the room with the beacon. As there are windows all around, visitors can see well above the tree tops. A deck has also been built outside of the lighthouse in line with the top floor. Donna said they plan to add a high railing, so guests can enjoy the view outside of the lighthouse, as well.
“It is so beautiful from up here,” she said.