When young Madelyn, Maggie and Mabel Yount visit their grandparents, Jay and Kathie Price, they see a blonde-tressed princess riding a great white bear, a little old man asleep in a horn, a troll awaiting passersby, and a golden castle hovering on the horizon. The scenes, lifted from Norwegian folk tales, are painted on the kitchen cupboards in their grandparents’ guesthouse in Lake City, a small town in Missaukee County’s pine-covered countryside.
The small, two-story building is designed to look like a stabbur, the traditional Norwegian outbuilding used for a pantry and sometimes as quarters for overflow guests. The Prices’ stabbur is as authentic as they could make it, right down to the built-in beds decorated with the Norwegian folk art of rosemaling (translation: flower painting). The couple’s fascination with Nordic culture is a family matter – in the 19th century, Kathie’s Danish and Norwegian ancestors settled in the village of Lucas, 10 miles from Lake City. When the Prices were planning to build a guesthouse several years ago, they decided they’d try to replicate a stabbur. “We thought how cool to just pick up on this unique Norwegian building and adapt it a little bit and make it a little larger,” Jay says.
Just before Christmas in 2004 the Prices toured Norway, taking note along the way of any stabburs they saw. They were even invited to a Norwegian family’s home for lunch – an occasion that included a peek inside the stabbur. The Prices returned from Norway infatuated with the country’s snowy landscape and the way Norwegians light up their dark, Nordic nights with twinkling white lights outside and lively colors inside. They were more determined than ever to make their stabbur as authentic as they could.