The tiny details of Sölveig Stay
Sophia and Matt McCann met at school in the Twin Cities and lived abroad for a couple of years before moving back to the Duluth area. Spending time away from the land she grew up on made Sophia realize just how lucky she was to have that experience.
“We were just sitting on my parent’s patio one night and like, Wow, this is kind of a rare experience, you know, just to live on so much acreage and just kind of realize what a gift it was to grow up in that environment,” said Sophia. “And so we kind of just had this shared passion of making that more accessible to more people and sharing it with just as many people as possible.”
The couple decided to build a tiny home Airbnb on 80 acres of private woods near the Twin Ports.
“We really like unique stays, especially small places,” explained Matt. “We weren’t necessarily obsessed with tiny house, but we were more just like, what’s cool? You know, looked at domes, trains, cars, whatever. Sophie’s dad really liked the idea of shipping containers. So we just looked into it and we just decided it’s sturdy, strong. Can handle the winters here. Also strong enough to just hold a sauna.”
Working alongside Sophia’s parents, the couple completed the project in around a year.
“We’ve done most of this work, probably 95% of the work, and it was definitely a lot of just learning stuff for the first time,” said Matt. “It was definitely a team project from the beginning. The four of us all together got done here and it was like kind of family bonding. You know, we’ve all got strong opinions and it’s a little bit stubborn, but we all have the same vision.”
“Our main goal was just to make the outdoors more appealing to everyone. So, you know, growing up on 80 acres of land, running around in the woods was kind of just my upbringing. And so realizing that not a lot of people have that experience,” said Sophia. So maybe trying to bridge the gap between a backwoods experience and a luxury stay. We really wanted all of, you know, full amenities, a full shower, bathroom, water, a beautiful sauna, fireplace, make it as comfortable as possible. No matter if you’re an outdoor enthusiast or not, you’ll be able to enjoy this space in a different capacity and ultimately enjoy the outdoors.”
One of the unique design features is rotating artwork by Sophia’s dad, Jeffrey T. Larson. Larson is a professional fine artist and founder of Duluth’s Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art.
“My dad’s a classical impressionist, so a lot of just kind of the simple, simplistic, minimalistic but really beautiful features that are just trying to bring the outdoors in basically, and kind of accentuate what is already so beautiful in this world,” said Sophia.
Sölveig Stay is located around an hour from Duluth and is rural enough to have to use Starlink for WiFi.
“That’s another thing we do have is fast WiFi. Pretty early on we realized, you know, we need Internet, whether that’s a movie night, you know, in the wintertime it gets dark early,” explained Matt. “And then as we kind of thought about it, more like, well, we can really open this up to, you know, remote workers. COVID was happening in the process of all this planning.”
The couple encourages tourists and Duluth locals alike to stay for a weekend getaway.
“We spent the weekend here and it was probably one of the most relaxing, relaxing weekends we’ve had in honestly, two years,” said Matt. “So in that way, this thing turned out a lot better than we expected.”