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When Stephanie and Todd Coursolle moved to Marine on St. Croix a few years ago, one thing stood out from their previous homes in White Bear Lake, Birchwood and Minnetonka.

"Everybody walks. It's the most walked town I've ever lived in," Stephanie said.

It was that walkability factor that drew the Coursolles to house hunt in the river valley town north of Stillwater. The couple came across a charming "brown chalet" that was the perfect size.

"That's what I really liked about this house. It looks like a little cottage from the road but then when you walk in, it's a pretty spacious house," Stephanie said. "It was the idea of being able to gather and have a destination for our kids and grandkids spread all over Minnesota."

Just as appealing, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom house was on a hill, which made the property feel private while offering views of the village. It even had a walking path leading into town.

After five years, the Coursolles are bidding adieu to the house on the hill to build their retirement home in Ely.

"It's hard for us to leave," Stephanie said. "The house is great, and so is the location, without being so far" outside the Twin Cities.

Listing agent Bill Smitten said the easy commute means the next homeowner could use it as a home or cabin.

"I throw that [cabin] idea out there because some people have treated Marine on St. Croix as their 45- to 50-minute commute to the cabin," Smitten said. "The updates that Stephanie and Todd have done to the home really make it the epitome of a cottage feel in this quaint little town. It's pretty tough to beat."

Spruce up

During their time there, the Coursolles spruced up the place, which was built in 1966. "It was a cute little house, but it was very outdated and had very dark, heavy colors. There was a lot of wood," Stephanie said. "We freshened it and painted every square inch of the house."

Stephanie and Todd love to cook, so they gutted and reconfigured the kitchen for optimum use, including removing a wall to open up main gathering spaces.

They added beams in the kitchen to fit the character of the rest of the house and even took on jackhammering the floor, which was higher than in adjoining spaces, to make all of the flooring flush. The Courselles also outfitted the kitchen with top-end appliances and other features fit for a chef.

"It is a small kitchen," said Stephanie, a corporate chef. "But it does have a very nice butcher countertop that is used a lot in industrial kitchens because there's a lot of chopping that can go on there, and soapstone, which is very good for baking."

Taking it outside

Stephanie and Todd cleared invasive buckthorn from their yard while keeping the mature trees on the property. That made room for their grandchildren to roam, when they weren't playing on the trampoline and swings.

"It was a nice-sized lot, but you couldn't use it before," Stephanie said, adding that they also painted the exterior of the house, installed a split-rail fence and added a hot tub.

Their favorite thing about the house is how easy it is to entertain — inside and out. They especially love the wrap-around deck and the interior spaces that feel right-sized. "It's just a very casual, lived-in house," Stephanie said.

They took advantage of what Marine on St. Croix had to offer, too. When their kids and grandkids visited, it was a tradition to stroll the paths and bridges, which offer views of waterfalls, as they made their way into town.

"We'd end up in the village for pizza or candy. Or, if it's summer, get ice cream at the ice cream shop," Stephanie said.

They've also enjoyed countless concerts. And during the holidays, there's an open-air market and other activities. "Every place in town has a Christmas tree and they light it up. It's pretty magical," Stephanie said. "For it being as little of a town as it is, there's always something going on."

Bill Smitten (; 651-246-9442) of Coldwell Banker Realty has the $589,000 listing.