John Koch of John Koch Construction wasn’t familiar with Yankton growing up. That is, until his oldest brother met a girl from the town filled with natural beauty.
“I had gone down there a couple of times, and I thought, ‘Holy smokes, it’s beautiful here.’ So over the next year or two I was determined to find a place,” he recalled.
Looking originally at lots, Koch soon discovered they were too pricey and didn’t fit what he was envisioning.
A realtor he was working with gave him a call one day, and informed him he needed to get there immediately to see a showing they were about to release.
“I cruised down there the very next morning, and it was kind a shabby A-Frame with a screen porch and living quarters off one side,” he said. “With that being said, we made an offer an hour later. So we went down to the fish shack, got cheese balls, made an offer, and got it.”
Now dubbed Cedar Ridge Hideway, the quaint red cabin with white trim was purchased in 2006, and has been a project of love for Koch over the years with art collections, new additions, and (most importantly) memories with friends and family.
Koch didn’t rent it out for six years, but realized after life commitments, a new Black Hills cabin in Lead (the Sheep Hill Chalet), and a growing family (wife Kaylee, and children Ivy, Leo, and Faye), it was time to consider it.
He said, “We had obligations April through May last year, and I thought, ‘What the hell is happening? We lost seven weeks [at the cabin].’”
Now available for all to enjoy, Koch gave 605 a look into the vacation rental home that can fit up to 16 guests.
“I fell in love with the quirkiness of the cabin,” said Koch. “I love A-Frames, and I love coming in the side porch. I didn’t want it to feel like a house, I wanted it to feel like a cabin.”
After the purchase, Koch immediately brought his crew down to “polish it up” for two months.
“Every year or two I made it a point to add something,” he said of the different phases.
The first was to build a deck off the front. They then put in an eight-foot glass door to bring in natural light.
“We spent all our time on that deck,” he said.
A couple years later, they added on to the kitchen.
“We got rid of that screened-in porch, pushed it out, and did a big room off of the kitchen and made a nice, big kitchen island.”
The Kochs’ most recent phase was two years ago when they removed the carport and added a whole new addition, which included a three-car garage and a living room with a full kitchenette above.
“It feels like a guest house but is fully connected,” he said. “It’s great for two families or so, because one can be on one wing of the house and the other on the other side.”
The third living room has an 80-inch television with oversized leather couches and a place to play cards and hang out. A balcony is attached, overseeing the land.
They also added two bedrooms with jack and jill bathrooms.
With all of the changes, there are now four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and two kitchens, equaling 3,200 square feet.
“There are beds everywhere,” laughed Koch.
The “Middle Room” connects everything and was the original living room.
“Before the two additions, this was it,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of memories for six-seven years of everyone having coffee in here, probably partially hung over.”
Now it’s a mudroom for the kids with “a million DVDs.”
With the design, the house is very unique with many hallways, stairs, and nooks.
“It feels like it goes on forever,” said Koch. “My ideas with cabins is that if you go to them, the cabin itself is an escape. It’s not fun for me to travel an hour or three or four and walk into a place that’s off 57th Street in Sioux Falls.”
He describes Cedar Ridge Hideway as new construction with things that “are organic to the area with cabin flair.”
An Artistic Escape
The cabin is a haven for local art.
It appears the favorite is Rug & Relic, with rugs, mirrors, antique skis, and custom pieces, like the three engine head cover lights that “marry well with the river,” and the hanging lamp, entitled Flight Log.
“[Rug & Relic owner and artist] Steve Bormes said when he was building [Flight Log], it kept telling him to take his clothes off,” continued Koch. “So he spent the majority of the time making it naked.”
“I told Steve and Tove this is like a showroom,” he said.
Other artists include famed Native American artist James Starkey,
Along with art pieces, a lot of other elements fill the walls inside and out of the cabin. Most have no design rhyme or reason, but Koch likes it that way.
“Don’t worry about everything matching,” he said. “I think the worst thing someone can do is outfit a house in 24 hours. I think the things in this house tell a story, and it really has an eclectic vibe, and I like that in my cabins and my own house.”
As an homage to cabins and life in South Dakota, there is an array of taxidermy sprinkled throughout.
One of the favorites is a jackalope from the Rochford Mall in Hill City.
“It was love at first sight when I saw him,” said Koch.
There is a silver fox and a trout from a pawn shop, and the buffalo has quite the story. Kind of.
Koch became friends with a taxidermist from Rapid City, where he found the buffalo head.
“Since I paid for it, I try to come up with a really heroic hunting story, like a hand-made blood tip poison blow dart tromping through snow,” he laughed.
He then pointed at the pheasant on the wall.
“That’s actually a pheasant that I shot.”
Koch says a lot of the furniture came from DeWitt Designs, and discusses how important quality is when furnishing a house or rental. His first quality piece was a couch in the main living room.
“This was my first big purchase at my house of ‘07,” he said. “It’s a hideabed. It’s one of those things that if you buy nice stuff right away, it’s a great investment for the long run.”
The family wanted to go for a rustic-modern vibe. This includes a moose chandelier from Scheels and log furniture from Slumberland.
“This was my first rental I’ve ever done, and I forgot I had to furnish it,” continued Koch. “I went down to Slumberland in Yankton, and they were awesome, so I bought this log furniture. I don’t have plans on changing it.”
The birchwood bed and several tables were built by Jerry Hauk, who also owns Monks House of Ale Repute in Sioux Falls.
“I feel rustic pieces are timeless,” said Koch.
Cedar Ridge details
- Holds 16 people
- 3 living rooms
- 4 bedrooms
- 3 bathrooms
- 3,200 square feet
- 3-car garage
- ½ mile to the lake
Experience the Lewis and Clark Lake with a 10 minute walk to the beach. Cedar Ridge Hideaway has a canoe and kayak for use.
Return to the cabin for the beautiful backyard patio for the 12-person hot tub and bonfire.
“It’s always so fun here. We come every New Year’s,” he said.
While the Koch family’s stays are getting fewer and farther between, the cabin means a lot to John and Kaylee.
“When I first suggested we start renting it, Kaylee’s eyes watered,” he said.
But now that they’ve started, they’re happy to share their getaway with others.
“It’s always great to read the reviews and see people are enjoying it when we can’t.”
When discussing the cabin, Koch mentions the true love he has for the place.
“I have all of these properties, and one of my favorite quotes is, ‘Never fall in love with something that can’t love you back,’” he said. “But I have to say, I do love the Yankton cabin. It’s the only property that I would be halfway emotional selling. When you’re there, you feel different.”
For more information, visit cedarridgesd.com.