Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

Culture, Entertaining, and Home Design

Functional Art – The Sliding Barn Door Trend

Words by Blain Mikkonen and Phil Bruckbauer Shop and portrait photos by M. Schleif Photography Barn door photos provided by Grain Designs One of the hottest design trends from the…

Words by Blain Mikkonen and Phil Bruckbauer
Shop and portrait photos by M. Schleif Photography
Barn door photos provided by Grain Designs

One of the hottest design trends from the past couple of years has been the introduction of sliding barn doors into homes and offices. Sliding barn doors are commonly rustic in appearance and the designs are modeled after their agricultural predecessors. ‘Barn doors’ have commonly been used as the catch-all term for the functional and beautiful sliding doors. However, if rustic, agricultural-inspired sliding doors don’t tickle your fancy, don’t let the term ‘barn doors’ scare you away.

As with any design trend, it’s common for trends to come and go. We think the sliding barn door is here to stay, although the designs and aesthetics will continue to evolve. We understand this trend to be one of functionality, efficiency and even artistic beauty. So what is all the riot about?

What are the benefits of sliding barn doors?
Sliding doors save space by eliminating the room needed for door swings.
They create a focal point and can make a statement for a home or office.
Unique doors look great when they’re not in use, so they can be left open and not be in the way.
They provide a contrast of materials and create interest for a commonly boring and forgotten element of the home.
The greatest benefit is that a sliding door is so much more than just a door. It is functional art.


What are the most common rooms or areas for a sliding door?
Although we’ve installed sliding doors in many different residential and commercial applications, here are some of the most popular areas/rooms:
Formal Dining/Entry
Hall Closet
Laundry Room
Theatre Room
Master Closet
Master Bathroom
Commercial and Business Applications – sliding doors have also been very popular in area business for use in offices, exam rooms, break rooms, conference rooms, and even to make a statement in the reception area.

What is the most popular style of barn door?
The most popular style we produce is probably the Double Z which is one of the traditional barn door styles seen on agricultural buildings. However, we’ve had the opportunity to do some truly unique, modern, and even elegant sliding doors. Some of these doors that break the rustic, barn door mold have become some of Grain Designs favorites to design and build. These alternative door solutions stand out for their unique details, precision, clean designs and sometimes even the challenge of creating something new and different.


Modernizing the Barn Door
One solution to add a more modern feel to sliding doors is by adding brushed steel or aluminum accents. This can add that touch of contemporary style to the piece in a way that pops unlike more common raw steel or black hardware.


Lighter colored, fully planed woods also tend to offer a more contemporary look. In this example, the combination of brushed, metal hardware, light wood and a unique horizontal pattern result in a pair of ultra modern and multifunctional sliding doors.

Dark stained wood and horizontal, raw steel bands give these unique doors a more industrial feel. However, they still offer a clean look in contrast to a rustic door and create a focal point as pillars to this living room’s entertainment center.

In addition to different wood tones and accents, incorporating other materials or reclaimed elements is another great way to change the style of the door. These solutions incorporate corrugated metal; one yielding rustic results while the other is a healthy combination of contemporary and industrial.


Creating Multi-functional Barn Doors
Other considerations for your door may be to add more functional elements. We’ve built custom doors to include mirrors, windows, chalkboards, or even slat-style privacy doors that cover patio doors, yet still let light in. The options are really endless.

Exploring Craft and Inspiration

As designers and craftsman, we’re constantly in search of other businesses and individuals working on honing their craft. We find inspiration in learning about and exploring the craft of others. Here are a few social media accounts that are worth the follow.

Originally from South Dakota, Trent Preszler now lives in Long Island, New York. He crafts bespoke wooden canoes that are truly beautiful works of art. In addition to his highly crafted canoes, Preszler restored a ‘56 Ford truck, a brand icon, built with an attention-to-detail that exemplifies his passion for high-craft.

Thunder Coffee
Thunder Coffee is mobile coffee service that brews up quality coffee for your meeting, event or gathering. How does coffee relate to craft? Visit with Dex, Thunder’s coffee educator and head barista and you’ll begin to understand the attention-to-detail that goes into the making of a perfect cup of joe.

Hix Design
Quality craftsmanship is often better evaluated when touched, felt and experienced. As a customer of Hix I can attest to this fact. However, in the case of Hix Design’s leather goods, you’ll quickly notice from his Instagram photos that each piece is well designed and crafted with impeccable detail.

Contact the Team:
Mikkonen, Bruckbauer, and the Grain Designs team currently work out of a studio Southwest of Fargo. They are working on an exciting new retail concept, Grain Designs Furniture & Mercantile in South Fargo which will be open late this winter. In the meantime, they can be reached online at graindesigns.com.

Blain Mikkonen

Phil Bruckbauer

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A White Wine Winter

Words by Dan Hurder and Laura Botten Photography by M. Schleif Photography Some wine enthusiasts suggest that winter requires red wine. While we adore a glass of red with a…

Words by Dan Hurder and Laura Botten
Photography by M. Schleif Photography

Some wine enthusiasts suggest that winter requires red wine. While we adore a glass of red with a hearty bowl of beef stew or savory roast, we just aren’t willing to put our whites away while the snow flies. So, with our permission, dust off those white wine glasses and check out a few of our favorites. Laura Botten and I are braving below zero temps and taking you on an exploration of whites, starting with the classics.

Winter White Flights
By consumption, the most popular white wines are Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Moscato is leaving a mark with its surge in popularity, and Sweet Justice deserves its place at the table. Our selections were intentional to showcase the range of styles produced.

We’ll lead with Chardonnay, the “queen” of whites. We collectively cringe when we hear “I hate Chardonnay.” Challenge on! Most likely, the “right” Chardonnay has not graced your palate yet. The diversity within the category is vastly based on region and production methods. Winemakers can choose to make a very fresh, unoaked style that is all about the fruit or they can add complexity through a variety of techniques:

What Makes White Wines “Complex”?
• Sur Lie Aging – This means it had an extended contact with spent yeast cells. It adds texture and enhanced mouthfeel as well as flavors reminiscent of freshly baked bread.

• Malolactic Fermentation (ML) – This converts malic acid (think tart granny smith apple) to the rounder and creamier lactic acid. And, a byproduct of ML is diacetyl, which is used in margarine to make it taste more like (light bulb moment) butter.

• Oak Influence – This can be achieved through barrel aging or other sources and can add tannic structure, apple pie spice notes, vanilla, dill and a host of other tertiary flavors.

Seaglass Chardonnay is an unoaked expression of this versatile grape that is simply about the fruit. A Santa Barbara County appellation (rare for the price point), yields peach, pineapple and melon flavors and aromas. This easy drinking Chardonnay would appeal to a Pinot Grigio drinker with its fresh, fruit-driven style.

California Chardonnay came into its own in the mid-80s, and Rombauer was right there in the fold helping to define the quintessential expression of oaky, buttery, full-bodied Chardonnay. In fact, Rombauer-esque is often used to describe other wines of this style. Carneros fruit, sur lie aging, ML fermentation and nine months in French and American oak barrels yield a rich mouthfeel, tropical fruit, buttery notes and beautiful apple pie spice. Cold weather comfort foods like chicken pot pie or a more elegant meal of lobster tail pair beautifully with Rombauer.


Pinot Grigio
It’s hard to think about Italy without thinking of Pinot Grigio. Enough said.

A to Z
Oregon is producing amazing Pinot Gris (the French term for Pinot Grigio) and A to Z is a market leader. While the grape variety is the same, Pinot Gris on a label suggests more intense fruit character and added complexity. Fabulous to simply sip, it pairs nicely with salads or dishes you would squeeze a lemon over. Pan fry some walleye and enjoy!

Candoni is a classic Italian expression. Bartlett pear shines through on the nose and palate with a crisp, lingering finish. It’s easy and approachable nature makes it a crowd pleaser.

[Sauvignon Blanc]
One of the more polarizing grapes, Sauvignon Blanc tends to evoke a “love it or hate it” response. Characteristics range from bell pepper and vegetal qualities to intense grapefruit, white peach and melon.

Loveblock from Marlborough, New Zealand, is produced and owned by Sauvignon Blanc icon, winemaker Kim Crawford. We find this a more refined and elegant expression, lacking the aggressive acid and over the top grapefruit typical of the region.

Cade Sauvignon Blanc is from Napa Valley, a warmer growing region. This yields riper melon fruit, a softer mouthfeel and more weight on the palate. The nominal blending of other aromatic grape varietals lends complexity.

Riesling, a personal favorite, is often underappreciated and oversimplified. One of the most esteemed white grapes, it runs the gamut from bone-crushingly dry to sweet, dessert wine. For those that dismiss Riesling because they don’t like sweet wine, the secret is to check the alcohol content on the bottle. Alcohol and sugar have an inverse relationship – the higher the alcohol, the lower the sugar. Seek out 9-10% alcohol content or higher if you prefer a drier style.

Kings Ridge
At 12%, Kings Ridge Riesling from Willamette Valley, Oregon, is technically dry and showcases that Riesling is NOT the simple quaff many think it to be. Peach, green apple, and rose predominate, and the distinct petrol (think brand new yoga mat) aromas are a hallmark of the grape.

Bollig-Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen
Approaching the other end of the spectrum is Bollig-Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spätlese. Try polishing off a bottle and saying that five times fast. This gorgeously complex bottling is from the Goldtropfchen vineyard, one of the most esteemed in the Mosel region of Germany. Spätlese means late harvest, suggesting more developed fruit character. At 8% ABV, expect more sweetness – perfectly balanced by crisp acidity.

This Riesling is a perfect partner with spicy side dishes like the jalapeno poppers from Boiler Room but also pairs perfectly with spicy Thai or Indian cuisine. Only 700 cases produced and with a 91 point rating from the Wine Spectator, this is a gem to seek out.

Sweet Justice
Sweet Justice Moscato, produced by boutique Australian winery, Shinas Estate, has won over many Moscato naysayers. Only 500 cases are produced each vintage and astonishingly, over 300 are consumed right here in North Dakota. With a bit of a cult following, this is not your dorm room variety Moscato. It is ethereal in nature, with stone fruit and tropical flavors, and a touch of effervescence. You be the judge, but we bet Sweet Justice will win you over.

Dan Hurder is Managing Partner of Twist, Boiler Room and Chef’s Table Catering. Laura Botten is Fine Wines Manager of Johnson Brothers ND. For more information or if you want to chat about wine with Dan or Laura, email info@brixandbanter.com

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Like Mother Like Daughter

By Tracy Nicholson Photography by Studio Three Beau Amidst our usual February freeze, we decided it was time to head to the lakes. This mother and daughter who both reside…

By Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Studio Three Beau

Amidst our usual February freeze, we decided it was time to head to the lakes. This mother and daughter who both reside in the Detroit Lakes area, enlisted the help of Aubrey Costello at Showplace Cabinetry of Fargo to create and define their entertainment spaces. Just in time for warm, winter gatherings, we show you two unique bar designs in two completely different spaces. The first is the unfinished basement of Mike and Amanda Habrat and the second takes us down the road to Darryl and Mary Beehler’s family room where Costello used an outdated entertainment center space to create a sleek and contemporary wet bar.

Project number one is at the home of Mike and Amanda Habrat on Big Detroit. This project would offer Costello a clean slate with a completely unfinished basement. The focal point would be the stunning, full-service bar area creating the perfect retreat for lower-level entertaining.

Bar Project #1: Challenges
Since this project started as an unfinished basement with walls already in place, the space for the bar was pre-defined. An additional space beyond the bar was then designated the workout room which would be hidden by rustic barn doors.

Knowing that defined spaces almost inevitably come with challenges, Costello and the Habrats came up with a creative solution to hide the existing ductwork. The bar space needed to have one of the ducts in the ceiling, so instead of working around it, they worked with it to box-out the entire ceiling. Combining the new ceiling feature with inset pine and heavy crown molding proved to be a perfect compromise, resulting in another beautiful focal point.

“We had never built a house, but doing this was kind of like a mini-house building,” said Amanda Habrat. “We had to figure out where light switches go, ductwork and everything else, so it was nice to have someone with a good eye to help figure it out.”

Bar Project #1: The Design
Costello worked with the Habrats to design their bar cabinetry in a unique Gun Smoke finish and leathered granite countertop. The lighter grey tone became the perfect backdrop and contrast for the shimmer of the antiqued mirror, subway tile backsplash. “We chose the mirrored backsplash because there are no windows down here and also, every old, cool bar I’ve been to has a mirror in the back so we thought that would kind of lighten it up a bit,” said Amanda Habrat.

“I think the color is kind of classic, something I don’t have to fix again in five years. We have cherry wood upstairs, so I just really wanted something lighter for down here,” said Amanda Habrat. “Aubrey gave me a lot of guidance, which is what I needed. I didn’t come into this knowing exactly what I wanted, I just had a general idea. It can be overwhelming, but she was really good to work with figuring out the color schemes, cabinetry, tile and countertops. I think she figured out what my style was and then she’d narrow it down to two options.”

Costello worked closely with the Habrats for the bar’s overall design and flow, making sure to include exact spaces to accommodate their behind-the-bar amenities, storage and appliances. Contemporary touches like the floating shelves and LED-lit backsplash create contrast for the antiqued mirror tile and leathered granite bar top. To give the bar top a more chiseled finish, Costello worked with Spaulding Stone to hand-draw the edge mimicking the look of a live-edge slab. They also included LED light strips underneath to illuminate the bar’s unique design.

Not wanting to display to guests everything in their upper cabinets, Costello helped the Habrats choose water glass doors which still allowed for fun lighting features, but made more practical use of storage.

To finish the look of their lower-level bar, Costello and the Habrats chose a wood-look tile in a herringbone design and industrial lighting elements. The rustic barn door leading to the workout room and the wood-planked ceiling with crown molding was completed by CNN Remodeling.

Bar Project #1: The Finishes
Cabinets – Showplace Cabinetry, Sterling door style in a Gun Smoke finish
Countertops – Leather finished, Cavalete Granite Installed by Spaulding Stone. Includes a chiseled edge on upper bar top with LED light channel cut into the stone underneath the upper bar top
Backsplash – Jeffrey Court brand 3”x 6” tile in Yesterday’s Glass, installed by Syverson Tile & Stone
Hardware – Top Knobs, Juliet collection in Nickel with a brushed stain
Floor tile – Ragno USA brand, Woodcraft collection in Grigio from Syverson Tile & Stone, 4”x 28” tile, set in a framed herringbone pattern
Contractor – CNN Remodeling
Lighting – Lowe’s

Bar Project #2: The Beehlers
The second project is in the Chesterfield addition home of Darryl and Mary Beehler, near Little Detroit. Once considering the high price of acquiring tickets to the Superbowl, the Beehlers instead decided to put that investment toward an entertaining space they could use all year long. Inspired by Costello’s work on their daughter, Amanda Habrat’s basement, the Beehlers decided to enlist Showplace Cabinetry’s help to complete their own bar project.

After living in their home for 21 years, the Beehlers felt that removing the outdated entertainment center would go a long way in updating their home. Soon, they began work to remove the bulky, existing entertainment center which once housed the T.V. To create a better flow into the family room, the T.V. was then relocated to its new home above the fireplace mantel.

“This whole space was originally a built-in, drywall entertainment center. The flooring had just been replaced the year before, so we were careful to cover the existing flooring and also wrap our design around the corners, which would eliminate the cost of having to fix the sheetrock and re-texture,” explained Costello.

Built seamlessly into the existing space, Costello used Showplace Wood cabinetry and designed this wet bar with a stunning, waterfall-edge, quartz countertop. Upper storage is perfectly styled with glass doors, inset LED lighting and floating shelves. For the Rustic Alder cabinetry, Costello worked with the Beehlers to choose the deep, Midnight stain and beautiful, chevron backsplash tile which sets the tone for elegant entertaining.

Since this bar is located just off the kitchen and within the family room space, it didn’t make sense to have another fully functioning sink, so Costello and the homeowners opted for an ice bucket sink which can also drain.

Costello designed the custom, Showplace Wood cabinetry on the lower portion to hold up to 24 bottles, cleverly hidden amidst five pull-out drawers.

“Basically, I wanted my pantry back, but I also wanted this space for entertaining,” said Mary Beehler. “Getting the bottles out of my pantry was awesome, I had cupboards again and more useful space. Also, the entertainment center was getting really outdated, so it was time to do something that would update the house a little more.”

“I got a lot of ideas from our daughter’s basement project, but we had much smaller space to work with, so Aubrey came and took some measurements and we went from there,” said Mary Beehler. “She gave a lot of suggestions and we compromised, but Aubrey was really easy to work with. It turned out awesome.”

To add a unique, stained glass design element to the home, the Beehlers worked with an artist who happens to be Mary Beehler’s brother, Roger Reinardy. Reinardy designed the glass above the bar area, then the Beehlers finished it themselves.

Bar Project #2: The Finishes
Cabinets – Showplace Cabinetry, Sterling door style in a Rustic Alder with Midnight stain.
Countertops – Q Quartz brand, Calacatta Classique installed by Spaulding Stone in a 2 ½” thick mitered edge, with waterfall legs.
Hardware – Schaub brand in a Satin Nickel finish
Backsplash Tile – Walker Zanger brand, 6th Avenue Collection, Chevron in Ink Matte
Contractor – CNN Remodeling

For more information, contact:
Showplace Cabinetry – Aubrey Costello
2553 Kristen Lane, Fargo

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In the Kitchen with Laneil Skaff

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography If you’ve ever lived in Fargo-Moorhead, you’re probably familiar with the last name. Skaff Apartments was founded in 1957 and even…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

If you’ve ever lived in Fargo-Moorhead, you’re probably familiar with the last name. Skaff Apartments was founded in 1957 and even today remains family-owned and run. Laneil and Sam Skaff have devoted much of their lives to creating comfortable spaces to live. Now working alongside their children, their daughters Julie Stoe and Jenna Stowers assured us that their mom was not only a wonderful interior decorator for their properties, but also a talented at-home chef. Not wanting to miss a great opportunity to learn a few new culinary tips, we decided to visit their Moorhead home of 25 years to see what’s cooking. Whether your Valentine’s day centers around romance or family, Laneil Skaff created one meal that everyone is sure to fall in love with.

“When my daughter, Julie, asked me to do this, I thought of this entree recipe right away. It’s a recipe I make for Sam on a weeknight, but it’s also dressy enough to make for a special occasion,” said Laneil Skaff. “I wanted to do something that always tastes good, that’s easy and even the guys could make for Valentine’s Day. I don’t usually like to go out for Valentine’s Day because every restaurant is so busy, but this meal is simple and only takes about an hour.”

Valentine’s Day Menu:

Pear, Pomegranate and Pistachio Salad
For a fresh start, Laneil Skaff chose this salad because it’s one of her family’s favorites. It’s a pear, pomegranate and pistachio salad with a creamy poppy seed dressing. To make prep easy, this can be made ahead of time, then simply add the dressing before serving.

Coq au Riesling
“For the entree, I chose a chicken in a white wine sauce called Coq au Riesling. This recipe called for bone-in, skin-on chicken because it just delivers so much more flavor and moisture than boneless breasts,” said Laneil Skaff. “For this dish, you can serve it over rice or noodles, but I prefer a crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce. This recipe can easily be made into other dishes. Roast some vegetables, use the chicken and sauce and recreate it as a rice bowl the next day.”

Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce
For dessert, Laneil Skaff did a simple, poached pear in chardonnay, with a caramel sauce, then garnished it with fresh raspberries and cracked pepper.

Tips of the Trade:
When it comes to cooking, Laneil Skaff generally uses a cheaper wine. Since her poached pears require an entire bottle, this is a good thing. She suggests sticking to the less expensive selection, but choosing one that you would like enough to drink.

International Inspiration
“I like to roam the internet, page through magazines and sometimes I find recipes through T.V. shows. I love cooking and I love being able to glean recipes that are easy and yet delicious. I’m pretty sure I should have been born Italian,” laughed Laneil Skaff. “When I was in Italy, my favorite thing was the pasta and the different dishes. We went to a small agriturismo which is like a bed and breakfast where they grow all of their own produce. It’s a working farm with grape vines and olive trees. He would just show up and he’d cook for you and I got him to tell me a recipe of his. Wherever we go, I like to find a recipe that I can bring home and try to recreate.”

“We have a couple of pasta favorites, one that’s a white wine, lemon-chicken pasta and also a Fascilli Fresco. We eat this a lot in the summer using fresh tomatoes and basil that we grow, along with garlic in an olive oil. We just let that sauce marinate all day long, then cook the noodles and combine it at the end with fresh cheese. It’s just easy and you can add chicken breast if you want or serve it alongside. Those are two very versatile dishes,” said Laneil Skaff.

Even though Italian is a favorite in their home, Laneil Skaff loves to branch out and try virtually any nationality of cuisine. “I love to go to cooking classes. There’s something to be learned from anybody and everyone. I usually go to Sur La Table when I’m down in Phoenix and bring some girlfriends with me. It’s a cooking store that hosts cooking classes as well. One of my favorites was the croissant class. Sometimes you learn a lot of new things and then there are others like my risotto class where I realized that I was actually doing it right all along,” said Laneil Skaff.

“I love to cook and I’m at the age now, where I kind of wish I had pursued it earlier. But, back then I had four kids,” laughed Laneil Skaff. “There are days I’d love to open a little, funky restaurant, but an idea from other cities that intrigues me the most is having people come and eat and pay what they can.”

Family Recipe Night
“The kids’favorite thing to do is recipe night, where we try out new recipes and then all watch a T.V. show. It was usually centered around the show “24”. We all get together quite a bit. On birthdays I let them either pick a place to eat or write a menu, so sometimes it’s breakfast, hot dogs or sloppy joes. Last night it was a new recipe for me, Pad Sai Mu??, a Thai dish. So, I took a little trip to the Asian grocery store and got the Chinese broccoli and the noodles that I needed. A trip there is kind of an event in itself, it’s fun,” said Laneil Skaff. “You have to have a strong stomach for smells, but it is delightful and a great place to get what you can’t find at other stores. And it’s more reasonable because sometimes you can find it in the regular grocery stores, but it’s so expensive.”

The Skaffs are blessed with six grandkids ranging from 15 years-old to three months. “The younger ones love my mac and cheese, but my oldest has two things he calls “The Famous”. One of them is my hot fudge sauce and the other is my raspberry jelly,” laughed Laneil Skaff.

Skaff’s Grocery Staples
In the Skaff’s fridge, you can always find a few basic ingredients; garlic, onions, celery, diced tomatoes and carrots. “With these, I can make just about any kind of soup. I always keep a few different proteins in my freezer and then I use the garnishes like cilantro, parsley and croutons. I think it’s a well-rounded mix of things,” said Laneil Skaff. “It’s amazing what you can make with those very basic ingredients.”

Many of Laneil Skaff’s cutting boards and the elevated wood boards hail from a local store, Eco Chic Boutique which happens to be located on the street level of one of the Skaff’s properties, Stone West Village in Fargo.

Cooking for a Cause:
Beyond her family gatherings, Laneil Skaff stays busy cooking for the masses to benefit local non-profits and her church. One of the non-profits does vital work in South Africa and another in the Philippines, so she learned how to make South African food and Filipino dishes. Her largest gatherings were a Norwegian supper and a Thai banquet which served from 100 to 300 people at a time. Another she’s currently working on is the Frozen Meal Ministry through their church, Bethel Lutheran.

“We all love to cook with her,” said her daughter, Julie Stoe. “She cooks for a lot of different things from the Frozen Meal Ministry to thank you dinners for the ministry and we usually help.” It’s not unusual to see the entire Skaff family either helping prep, cook or serve at any of these functions right alongside others in the church who love to cook and learn new recipes. “It’s a great way to see the ladies. Instead of coffee, we get together to cook,” said Laneil Skaff.
Get the Recipes:
Coq au Riesling

¼ Cup butter-divided
Splash of olive oil
2 Medium onions, finely chopped
¼ Pound pancetta sliced into thin strips (can also use bacon)
4 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 Chicken pieces on the bone (I used 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks –can also use breasts – best on the bone and with skin)
8 oz. Portabella mushrooms, sliced
2 Cups Riesling
1 Cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful chopped parsley

In a large skillet over med-high heat, fry bacon until crispy and bacon has rendered its fat. Remove from pan (leaving fat behind).

Melt two tablespoons of butter and oil. Salt and pepper chicken and brown the pieces all over and remove from pan. Add rest of butter and onions and allow to fry until translucent. Add the garlic and allow to sauté for another 30 seconds before removing mixture from the pan (leaving the fat behind). Add the mushrooms and allow to fry for five minutes (can add a little more oil if pan is too dry.)

Add the onion, bacon, and chicken back to skillet. Pour in the wine and allow to come up to a boil. Turn down heat to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Uncover, add cream and continue to cook another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste – garnish with parsley.
Serve with white or brown rice, hot buttered noodles or crusty bread.


Pear, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad
With a Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

2 Cups romaine, chopped
2 Cups spring mix
4 Salad onions, thinly sliced
4 Mini cucumbers, peeled every other strip and thinly sliced
2 Pears, thinly sliced
1 Pomegranate, seeded
½ Cup shelled pistachios
½ Cup crumbled feta cheese

Creamy Poppyseed dressing
½ Cup mayonnaise
¼ Cup two percent milk
3 Tablespoons sugar
4 Teaspoons cider vinegar
2 Teaspoons poppy seeds

Whisk together in mayonnaise, milk, sugar, cider vinegar, and poppy seeds. Set aside.
In a large bowl add tossed romaine, onions, cucumbers, pomegranate seeds, pears, feta cheese and pistachios. Add the dressing and toss gently. Serve immediately.


Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce

4 Anjou pears, with stems
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 750 ml bottle of Chardonnay
1 Tablespoon peppercorns
Zest of one lemon

Caramel sauce
1 Cup sugar
3 Tablespoons water
5 Tablespoons butter
½ Cup whipping cream

Place sugar, wine, peppercorns and lemon zest in a small, deep pan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. While mixture is heating, peel pears, leaving the stem and a little peel at the top. Cut a small slice off the bottom of the pear so they stand. Once the liquid is boiling, place pears in pan, standing up. Turn heat down to med-low and place cover on pan. Simmer 30 to 40 minutes or until tender.

Make caramel sauce: Have all ingredients ready to go – this will go fast.
Heat sugar and water on med-high in a heavy, three-quart saucepan. As the sugar melts, stir with whisk or spoon. As soon as it comes to a boil, stop stirring. The syrup will become dark amber. Immediately add the butter and whisk until melted. As soon as the butter is melted, pull from heat, allow to cool 30 seconds. Add cream slowly to mixture and continue to stir. Mixture will foam. Continue to stir until smooth. Cool. (Can be made ahead and stored in the fridge.)

Plating dessert: Place pear standing on a plate or small bowl. Drizzle caramel over top – sprinkle with pepper. Garnish with raspberries or pomegranates. Serve warm and enjoy!

At Home with Laneil Skaff:
Laneil Skaff is in the midst of planning a remodel on her kitchen, but in the meantime, they embrace the space that brings their family together. Beyond the spacious kitchen, overlooking the river in their South Moorhead home, the Skaff’s style is stylish and inviting. “My style is comfortable, I love the Fixer Upper style using reclaimed wood,” said Laneil Skaff. “In this room, we have a lot of windows, so I love to bring the outside in with the birch branches. Just keeping things natural, mixing woods and metals. I switched to grey, but I try to keep it as warm as possible because I live in a 25-year-old home. So, I try to mix in the flavor of the oak with brand new colors and accessories.”

When Laneil Skaff wants to update her home, she turns to a few of her favorite stores like Scheels Home & Hardware, Eco Chic Boutique, Grain Designs, Pottery Barn, West Elm and Crate & Barrel. “I like to shop a variety of places, including local art shows and art fairs. I like it to look hand-crafted and I don’t want it to look like I bought it all at once,” said Laneil Skaff. I want it to look like a collection of living and always be someplace that can gather people in and make them feel comfortable.”

Future Issues:
This spring, Laneil Skaff will be showing our readers her favorite Tuscan recipes and sharing a few memories from her trip to Italy. Also, don’t miss our July issue when we head to the lakes area to feature their newly renovated, farmhouse chic lake home.

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A Repurposed Life – The Grain Elevator Project: Phase 1

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography Historic photos and plans provided by Dahm’s Design Scott Dahm photographed with his golden retriever Piper, inside his Baker, M.N., grain…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
Historic photos and plans provided by Dahm’s Design

Scott Dahm photographed with his golden retriever Piper, inside his Baker, M.N., grain elevator home.

This winter’s record-breaking, low temps haven’t been easy for anyone, but if you’re Scott Dahms and trying to renovate a grain elevator, it’s been an epic challenge.
Just a short drive south of Sabin, Dahms’ industrial home is located in the town of Baker, M.N. Although it’s a work-in-progress, it’s come a long way since day one when it was considered merely a dilapidated landmark along highway 52. When we found out he was currently residing in it with his two sons, we had to get a glimpse of what it’s like to renovate and live in a rural grain elevator.

Don’t try this at home. Scott Dahms is a licensed architect and contractor with his business Dahms Design. Even he doesn’t recommend taking on a project like this unless you either have an unlimited budget or the skills to do the work. Even with the knowledge, you’re likely going to need the help of someone like his project manager, Tom Meyer, and a whole lot of patience.

Phase 1
Since purchasing the elevator for $15,000 on Craigslist last December, Dahms has transformed the space into a shop and apartment space he’s proud to call home. Those who at one time thought he had lost his mind with this purchase, are now taking another look. Dahms and Meyer have countless hours of sweat equity into demo work, preservation and giving the space basic functions like running water, heat and electricity. Beyond these challenges, Dahms was able to create a kitchen near the main entrance, a dining room, office, bathroom and lofted family room with a second-story bedroom. While some of the spaces are completed or near completion, many of the rooms are a work-in-progress. For Dahms, building basic function and making it livable for him and his two sons, was the main goal. The additional space also needed to function for his architecture and contracting business, Dahms Design.

Rural Life in Baker
Dahms’ grain elevator is located in the small, rural town of Baker, Minnesota, and township of Alliance, just to the South of Sabin. Local historians can tell you that in the 1930s Baker was once a booming town often visited by those grabbing a train ride to the popular dance hall. With the addition of the interstate system, the hustle and bustle slowed and now a mere 55 people inhabit the town, all eager to share their stories. “When we first started working on it, there was a person a day stopping in to tell us a story from the past,” said Dahms. “Either their dad once worked here or they did. I’ve got a newspaper clipping that one guy dropped off from when the previous elevator that was here, burned down. Another guy dropped off an old stapler and actual grain bags from when it was the Red River Grain elevator.” The elevator has actually had three lives when it was still in business, with a couple of fires prompting rebuilds.

“When we first started working out here in March or April, we came in and started throwing stuff out and people would come by asking what we were doing. You could just see the questioning in their eyes of what we were trying to do. After about three or four months, people started seeing that we were making headway. I think they started to actually believe that these guys might get something done,” laughed Meyer.

“We’ve been extremely blessed with the surrounding community. It’s been such warm welcome,” said Dahms. “One of the first days I was out here, using a weed-wacker to cut down weeds, one of the farmers came over and said, you know, why don’t I bring my machine over here and I’ll get this done. I’m not very good at asking for help on things, but the next day I came out they were completely gone. He had done the old trees, brush, ditch, everything,” laughed Dahms. “Sometimes people just stop by and see how we’re doing.”

Weathering the Elements
“We bought this thing in February and we just went gangbusters on it all summer long. It was too big of a project to get completely buttoned-up by the time we needed. Plus, that surprise cold-snap in October, we thought that was it,” said Dahms. “We also had to keep revenue coming in from our other jobs. So, when we go in the other shop room, you’ll probably see drifts inside from the other night. When the storm came through, it went from nice in here to freezing the pipes in a matter of a few hours. We were smart enough to put in shut-offs so I can easily shut things off and drain lines if I have to. You almost have to change your way of thinking in terms of what a normal home does.” For Dahms, one of the biggest challenges right now is the plumbing. The property is not big enough for a drain field, so in terms of septic, he relies on tanks. As Dahms explained, this is a big project he needs to tackle before moving on to the other spaces.

“The thing with this project is, you get frustrated, but you just have to laugh,” said Dahms. “This project is overwhelming, but it’s exactly how I want it to be. I’m going through a propane tank about every two to three weeks which is usually $600 to $700 dollars. But, I don’t write a check to a bank or landlord every month, so when the first of the month comes, I’m not stressed out about it.” One small perk is that Dahms actually gets free internet by allowing the provider to use his elevator as a tower. He also won’t likely have a cooling bill in the summer. There happen to be two, 20-feet-deep pits on the other side of the elevator with ice build-up in them. With a little pipe fabrication, these will serve as free, geothermal air-conditioning.

Ignoring Rationale
If anyone’s wondering what inspires someone to take on a project of the magnitude, Dahms will tell you that it was a lot of life changes. After a divorce, he bought the elevator and a Porsche he’s wanted since he was eight-years-old. “It’s a total 180 of what I was doing before, which is exactly where I think I was meant to be,” said Dahms. “Sometimes you can’t bring rational thinking into it because it can kill the dream so to speak. For everything I know as an adult or as a responsible person, it doesn’t make sense. A banker is not going to step in and borrow money for this. What’s my resale value on this? Someone could buy it, but if I ever have an issue and have to go to a realtor and have them list my house, it’s not going to work. It’s a huge gamble but worth it.”

“Sometimes you can’t bring rational thinking into it because it can kill the dream so to speak.”
Scott Dahms – Dahms Design


Climbing Mountains
“We still have a long way to go in here. We’ve gone through a good number of guys this year. What we are doing is not for everybody, it takes a special breed I guess,” said Dahms. “I figure what better way for an architect and contractor to show what you can do than take on turning an elevator into a house. I’m proud to say it’s Dahms Design. Not everyone can do this type of work,” said Meyer.

“When you step back and look at this place, it’s a man and a mountain, really. The way we’ve approached this is small, little hills. We’ll get to the top eventually.”
Tom Meyer, Project Manager, Dahms Design

“I knew it was either going to be the best thing I ever did or the worst. I have a great support system of friends and family, so if I failed I knew I’d just start all over again and figure it out.”
Scott Dahms, Dahms Design

Living Space:
With a view to the prairie and railroad beyond, Dahms built his living space within the old bin site of the elevator. Using many of the original bin walls, which display the unique, stacked wood referred to as cribbing, Dahms has lent his living quarters an organic and raw warmth. Not at all influenced by design trends, he instead lets basic function and the historic elements of his space speak for themselves. In fact, Dahms takes pride in using salvaged material whenever possible, utilizing his own design sense to make it work. He estimates that around 80% of the finishes he’s used to build the living spaces have been salvaged or repurposed.

On the second level in loft-style quarters, is where Dahms’ bedroom, another small loft and future second bathroom are located. The space is functioning right now but is currently another project Dahms plans to complete down the road.

Displaying a bit of the elevator’s original character and personal nostalgia, Dahms displays skateboards and vintage signs on an original wall that once occupied the old manager’s office for the elevator.

What looks like an old chalkboard on the wall of the shop is actually the original bin board that was once used to identify all 42-grain storage bins. It’s been here so long that there’s no point in moving it as you’d still see the impression of where it was. Meyer pointed out that between 33 and 35, you’ll find the open bay where Dahms’ apartment is now located. This spot was once the location of three of the elevator’s bins.

Raising the Roof on Raising Kids
“Now that we’re in, the boys love it here. They’re eight and five and this place is kind of like Peter Pan and the island for them. Our first summer was great when the boys didn’t have school. We were working on this place, we had a firepit and we were grilling out every night.”

For Dahms, part of the fun of raising two boys in a rural environment is creating an authentic, small-town atmosphere for them to grow up in. “To open the garage door and watch your kids roll out on their dirt bikes, that’s pretty cool,” said Dahms. “There are a couple other kids in town and they come over. I set up a pool and trampoline for them. So, now the other boys will come over and swim, get out and jump on the trampoline, then go ride their dirt bikes around, have Nerf gun wars and build forts. It’s exactly the scenario that everyone talks about when we were their age. It’s kind of how the old neighborhoods used to be. I don’t have to be some helicopter dad, I know all of the other parents.”

Phase 2:
The goal we have for the winter is to try and find the right contact to take out all of the machinery that’s on the other side. Through that door is all of the old machinery that goes up to 75 feet. Once we get rid of that, we can get into that space and reconfigure our shop so a lot of it will go there. Eventually, we will have to repel down the inside of it and power wash each bin.” No stranger to the dangers of this project, Dahms is determined to find a means to conquer it.

In order to plan his next move on the remainder of the elevator, Dahms tracked down the original plans so he can better understand the complicated spaces and challenges that exist within his home’s walls.

On the Horizon:
Once the original equipment is removed in the bin space, Dahms has plans to put his focus on creating two bedrooms for his sons. “Anything I do in here is not going to be conventional. My boys are going to have double-decker, two-story rooms, so almost like little apartments. I’m just toying around with so many ideas. With a space this big, we could have a 75-foot rock-climbing wall if we wanted.”

This is one of the elevator’s original bin corridors separated by a door that leads to his apartment. There are countless corridors just like this one that Dahms has big, future plans for.

Beyond the living spaces, Dahms has been toying around with what to do with the additional square footage and height. One of his ideas for the future is to create studio spaces for artists to come and work. “I think having an element like that with my boys growing up here, would be extremely valuable to them,” said Dahms.

A skateboarder at heart, Dahms considers himself a big kid who has no intention of growing up. Inheriting some ramps from Watertown, South Dakota, Dahms plans to build a skate park on the north side slab. “I grew up skateboarding – if you were skateboarding in the 80s in North Dakota, you were automatically classified as drug-dealing satanist,” laughed Dahm. “It’s kind of one of those classic stories where teachers think you’re never going to turn out to be anything.”

These days, Dahms still enjoys tooling around on the skateboard, but he also loves being an unorthodox architect and contractor. “It’s fun, but I don’t wear nice shoes and I like having a level of knowledge that in this day and age people treat you for what they see at face value. I like just flying under the radar a bit. I’m 44 years-old and I don’t consider myself a grown-up. Why would I start now?”

Interested in following Dahm’s upcoming elevator adventures?
Midwest Nest Magazine will be keeping in touch with Dahms over the course of this project. Keep reading for exclusive follow-up stories on the grain elevator’s progress.

For more information, contact:
Dahms Design
Scott Dahms

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Smarter Homes Series: Centralized Lighting with Jamie DeJean of Smart Home Technologies

Words by Tracy Nicholson & Jamie DeJean Photography by J. Alan Paul Photography In new construction homes, options like centralized lighting are often overlooked. With the potential to drastically reduce…

Words by Tracy Nicholson & Jamie DeJean
Photography by J. Alan Paul Photography

In new construction homes, options like centralized lighting are often overlooked. With the potential to drastically reduce the number of light switches and increase functionality, lighting systems offer a wide range of options and benefits. To help homeowners break through the wall clutter, we contacted Jamie DeJean of Smart Home Technologies to shed some light on the benefits of a Centralized Lighting System. To show how these systems work, DeJean took us on a tour of a Heritage Homes stunner belonging to builder Tyrone Leslie. Located in South Fargo’s Rocking Horse Farm development, this home is full of bright ideas you need to know before you build.

What is Centralized Lighting?
“Centralized Lighting Systems allow us to replace groups of light switches with a single lighting control keypad. We do this in an effort to eliminate banks of several unlabeled light switches at every location where the ability to turn on lights is desired. This reduces the amount of wall clutter and makes your lighting easier and more intuitive to operate,” said Jamie DeJean, owner of Smart Home Technologies in West Fargo. “In Tyrone’s house, there are multiple lights in the great room. For this room, he simply needs to push one button, labeled “Great Room” and it will turn off the recessed can lights, fireplace accent lights and the cove accent lights. This doesn’t take away your ability to still run individual lights separately, there are other buttons for each of these different lights as well. It does provide simplified, labeled and illuminated buttons that allow for a better user experience whether you are a homeowner or a guest in the home.”

“Lighting control is one of the unique home features that Smart Home Technologies offers our clients,” said DeJean. “There are other places that offer home music, TVs and surround sound, but lighting control is one of the things we take a lot of pride specializing in. We work closely with several Fargo-Moorhead and lakes area electricians. We provide the lighting control equipment and programming. The installation is completed by a licensed electrician, such as JDP Electric who wired the Leslie home.”

The Outdated Alternative
As DeJean explained, the outdated alternative is to do things the traditional way by including a light switch for every location control is needed. In a typical kitchen and great room, that means a separate light switch or dimmer for the recessed lighting, cove accent lights, fireplace accent lights, pendants, under-cabinet lights and the list goes on. “For an area like this, you would typically need eight to ten unlabeled light switches, all of which require wall space and can take away from the aesthetics of the room,” said DeJean. If this sounds cumbersome to you, a Lighting Control System may be just the thing for you.

Simplify & Set the Scene
In order to simplify and declutter, DeJean’s team installed a system where the Leslies have the ability to either turn on whole scenes in a room or control individual fixtures. “It’s so much easier to just turn the whole kitchen on or the whole great room from one location, instead of searching for light switches spread around the room. As you move around to each of the keypads, the functions change based on the room,” said DeJean.

“You can also set up scenes, so if you want to have an evening scene for entertaining, you can program it so everything comes on to a certain level. You might have the island lights a little brighter, dim down the recessed lights, or bring up the accent lights to emphasize the stonework of the fireplace wall a bit more.”

How do I set a scene?
“There are a couple of different ways to set a lighting scene,” explained DeJean. “During the initial installation, we set the original keypad layout and scenes based on our experience of what past clients have enjoyed. We have two different systems. One is for the client who is hands-off and wants us to handle everything. Then there’s one for the homeowner who’s a little more involved. We give those clients the ability to set everything themselves. They’re able to pick what the buttons are, how they’re labeled, and everything they do.”

“Homeowners are also able to control everything from their iPads, iPhones, Androids or dedicated touch panels,” said DeJean. “The touch panels are built into the wall. They have a dedicated purpose, controlling the home automation system. They act much quicker than tablets and phones and they’re always in that consistent spot where you can find them.”

Motion Sensing Light
Arriving home with a Centralized Lighting System is probably a feature you’ve always wanted but never knew existed.”When you walk in the door into a dark entryway, it can sense motion, so the lights in the buttons will illuminate so you can read them. When you come in the door with your arms full of groceries, there’s a “Home” button you can push that will illuminate the mudroom into the foyer, down the hallway and into the kitchen and great room. On the way out the door, Tyrone can simply push the “Away” button and it will shut all of the lights off at one time.”

Managing Media
The Leslie home also has whole-house video and audio. Instead of having equipment in all of the different rooms like a Blu-Ray player, a media streaming piece like AppleTV, cable box or satellite box, it all goes downstairs into a central equipment rack. “Having a central rack allows the different rooms to have access to all of the home’s sources,” said DeJean. “It eliminates clutter and having multiple boxes in each of the rooms. It also helps parents do things like monitoring what their children are viewing. If you’re in the master bedroom and you want to see what the kids are watching in the theater, you can easily do that.”

Theater Room

On the lower level, the Leslies opted for a state-of-the-art theater room with a projector and 120” screen. “We have it set up down here so if it’s game day you can have the same game playing on the projector and the pool room television or you can have two different games playing at the same time,” said DeJean.

“There are multiple interfaces that can be used to control the home’s entertainment systems. You can use your iPhones, iPads or the Universal Remote Controls. The remote control is the interface that anyone could operate, even a guest who has never used the system. If you want to watch TV, all you do is pick the remote control and select TiVo. This turns on the projector and surround system, selects all of the correct inputs and then gives you only the controls you need. No matter what room they go into, the remote controls operate the same and they have access to all of the same sources.”

Setting up your System
If you’re not interested in adding this feature to your entire house, DeJean suggests starting with the primary living spaces of your home including kitchen, living room, and master suite. These are the areas that tend to have the most light switches, so they benefit the most from a simplified Lighting Control System. “With three light switches in the great room, four in the kitchen, two in the dining room, the number of light switches can really add up fast. Managing your lighting on the main floor makes a lot of sense. Then, from there if you wanted to add on things like the family room or other bedrooms, those can always go in later. If the home’s already built, it obviously doesn’t reduce down the number of switches on the wall, but they still can tie into a similar system with the same level of control.”

Alexa Integration
Adding one more feature to simplify everyday tasks, the Leslie home has Alexa Integration. “Their Alexa device has the ability to control an array of functions in the house. We can control the lights, music, heating and cooling,” said DeJean. “It’s as easy as telling Alexa what temperature you want her to change the room to. You can also use this to turn music on and off in different rooms.”

“We’re no longer in the early stages of voice control with devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home to control our homes. This is now a feature that clients are specifically requesting. This gives you the ability to turn on a series of lights with a simple voice command. For example, you could tell Alexa to turn on the “Home” lights and it would turn on main lights in the mudroom, hallway, foyer, kitchen and great room as you walk in the door.”

Astronomical Timers
As DeJean will tell you, a truly smart home is high-functioning on both the interior and exterior. Leslie’s Centralized Lighting System also runs the outside lights on what’s called an Astronomical Timer. “Instead of turning on at 6:00 p.m. every day and turning off at 11:00 p.m., it looks for what time the sun sets and rises for the area,” said DeJean. “So, for Tyrone’s house, we have it set for sunset to turn on the lights on the outside of the house and at 11:00 p.m. it turns off the exterior lights on the front of the house and the exterior on the back of the house if they were on. Then we have it programmed to leave the landscape lights on until sunrise.”

About the Home:
Tyrone Leslie’s home was built by his company, Heritage Homes and completed last April, just in time to be featured on the HBA’s 2017 Spring Parade of Homes. The home’s layout is a customized version of Heritage Homes’ Tuscany plans.

For more information, contact:
Smart Home Technologies
3306 Sheyenne Street. Suite #212, West Fargo

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Where we are at today… A room by room recap of our first two years and favorite renovations

Words by Maria Bosak Photography by M.Schleif Photography, Maria Bosak A cousin of my husband Tate’s recently asked how long we have lived in our house. I started to say,…

Words by Maria Bosak
Photography by M.Schleif Photography, Maria Bosak

A cousin of my husband Tate’s recently asked how long we have lived in our house. I started to say, “we just moved in last summer.” Then I paused and realized we have now been in our “new” home for two-and-a-half years. Where has the time gone? The old adage “time flies” has never been truer than it is right now as I look back over some of my favorite remodeling projects in our home.

The Kitchen
It’s hard not to start with the kitchen, the hub and heart of our home. This room is the most recently completed and the space where we spend most of our time. Just a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in the renovated kitchen, I was able to spend some time with a girlfriend and her daughter baking Christmas cookies. The giant island and double ovens were perfect, even for the messiest of baking endeavors.


The Girl’s Guest Room
The showstopper in this room is always the sliding barn doors covering the closet. While not necessary at all, given that this is a guest room and hardly seen, they were totally worth the added expense. I’m a firm believer that every room needs a focal point, (some eye candy) if you will. That one element that just makes the room come alive and sets it apart. You might say this room has two focal points because it’s hard not to notice the black 4-poster bed when you open the doors, but the stabilizing feature is the doors. I just love welcoming guests to stay in this room, it makes me happy to give them an inspiring and beautiful place to stay.

The Girl’s Bathroom
THAT FLOOR, GOSH … that floor! It was this cement tile flooring that made me re-evaluate my timeline for completing the remodeling on the entire house. What I mean by this is, I quickly realized that in order to get it done right, I was going to exceed the budget in every room (and that was just fine). Now when I say “right” it doesn’t mean that another selection of flooring wouldn’t have worked and done the job. It means that when I open the door to this room I smile, (I smile big) because I spent the extra money on the flooring I wanted and pushed back our deadline in order to save up for the other rooms. That is when you know you got it right. When you smile walking into a room. It just makes you happy. Don’t settle, not even in a bathroom, if the timeline and budget can be adjusted. Do it. Don’t rush, enjoy the process and get it right.

The Laundry Room
“It’s just the laundry room.” I heard that a few times, but once again we decided to make it fun and happy. Let’s be honest, nobody really loves doing laundry. So why not spice it up a bit and make the room one you love walking into. I’ve never had a laundry room that wasn’t just a storage area in the basement, so the thought of having a pretty room to sort, wash and dry was a dream come true.


Tate’s Bathroom
A month doesn’t go by that Tate doesn’t remind me that out of all the rooms in the house that I designed, the one that HE designed, is the one that Country Living Magazine wanted to feature in their June issue this past summer. I pretend to be annoyed by it, but the truth is that I love this room because it is totally Tate, from the reclaimed vanity built by our friends at Grain Designs, to the kitchen sink he picked to place in the vanity – he wanted something he could get his elbows down into. This is complete Tate logic and I love it, but no need to tell him, he already knows.


The Cedar Room
What was once a porch that was enclosed to avoid mosquitos, has become our primary living room. The evidence of a focal point is not hard to find in this room. The black French doors are the showstopper in this room. I almost didn’t order them when I found out that they would take eight weeks to get here, but luckily I did and I couldn’t be happier. We love that this room falls just off the kitchen so when guests want to be close to the action and the food, they don’t have to go far.


The Exterior
There are days I have a hard time remembering what the house once looked like on the outside. The change has been so amazing. In the beginning, we struggled with the decision of whether or not to take down the rock wall and exactly where to place the new windows. It is another reason we are glad we took it slow, we feel like living in the space for a while gave us all the right answers. We still smile when the snow falls and we can sit in the front room and feel like we are outside in it. The new patio has given us a space to entertain and enjoy during all seasons and well, the color blue just makes my Duke-loving husband happy, so then I’m happy.

What’s Next?
We have two rooms left, the butler’s pantry and the main living room, but for right now, we will be pausing our remodeling project so we can focus on what really makes our house a home. Those whom we share it with. Tate and I began our current journey as foster parents about this time last year and we never expected that the hardest work we would do this year would be the work that is happening in our hearts. So, while the pretty, French doors and the jaw-dropping, cement tiles are fantastic, we need to spend time focusing on the real reason we purchased this home.

Oh, don’t worry, we aren’t going anywhere, we have just developed a different pace for our current projects, one that puts snuggles in front of sheetrock.

From our house to yours,
Tate & Maria Bosak

Want to connect with Maria? You can find her at her retail store Eco Chic in Fargo or drop her an email at Maria@ILoveEcoChic.com

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From Midwest to Montana – A reclaimed retreat with Midwest roots

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Dakota Timber Company Kelsey Morrison and her husband may reside in the F-M area, but their life-long dream has led them…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Dakota Timber Company

Kelsey Morrison and her husband may reside in the F-M area, but their life-long dream has led them to Northwestern Montana. Although we don’t typically show homes from outside of our area, the Morrison’s Montana vacation home happens to be primarily constructed using reclaimed wood from all over Minnesota and North Dakota. Kelsey Morrison’s husband first drew out and designed every inch of the cabin’s layout, with the reclaimed wood details left to her brother and sister-in-law, Seth and Ashley Carlson, owners of Dakota Timber Company. See inside the Morrison’s reclaimed, lakeside retreat with a spectacular mountain view.

The Morrison’s would love to live full-time in Montana, but with their careers here in full-swing, for now, they’re happy to call it their vacation home. Growing up, Kelsey Morrison’s family often spent time in Montana which is when her love for the rugged terrain began. After many trips to the area as a couple, her and her husband found themselves dreaming of someday building a home amidst the untouched landscape and mountain views.

The couple finally saw their dream come alive when Morrison’s husband drew the plans and designed the cabin. After carefully planning out every detail, they eventually broke ground on the lakeside property in late summer of 2016. “We wanted to use as much reclaimed wood as possible throughout the home. So, in addition to the lumber and the wood you can see, we also used a lot of reclaimed wood structurally, wherever we could,” said Kelsey Morrison. Much of the cabin’s siding is done in a reverse, board and batten, which is a common Montana style. All of the wood for the siding as well as the soffit, exterior porches, corbels, window trim, trusses and timbers are sourced from Dakota Timber Company.

“The only materials that are not reclaimed is the metal roof, doors, Cor-ten, cedar shakes and the actual framing of the house,” said Morrison. “Pretty much everything that we could use reclaimed wood on, we did. We purchased it all from Dakota Timber and it was sourced from all over the Midwest. A lot of it came from a farmstead in Minnesota.” Keeping the exterior’s look raw and natural was one of the Morrison’s main goals. Leaving the wood in its natural, reclaimed state allowed the property to blend into its environment.

“I love the exterior siding and I feel like it’s something that should be utilized far more often in this area, especially with so many people in the Fargo area who have lake homes in Minnesota,” said Ashley Carlson. “People tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the interior of their home, then end up doing vinyl siding. What they don’t realize is that reclaimed wood can completely change the way a structure looks and it can actually be affordable.”


Inside, the main level of the cabin is around 1,500 square feet, with the unfinished basement doubling the footage. The main level features one bedroom and one-and-a-half baths, but eventually, the Morrisons plan to complete the basement which would add another bathroom, bunk room and living room.

Emulating the exterior, the interior exudes warmth and character from its reclaimed elements. “One of the favorite elements, for a lot of people when they see our house is the ceiling which was made from reclaimed, Minnesota barn wood,” said Morrison. “We did a full, paneled ceiling in reclaimed wood, using burly, original and unfinished patina.” This style is a light-sanded mix of pine and fir in fixed widths to keep the boards uniform. Two extra-long, solid ceiling beams from a grain elevator in North Dakota were chosen in contrasting tones to extend the length of the home.

The Morrison’s custom dining table was built by Dakota Timber Company and delivered to its new Montana home by Seth and Ashley Carlson themselves. To complement the table’s old-growth charm, Morrison scoured the Eco Chic Junk Market until she found these antique chairs to coordinate.

Fireplace Focal Point
In the main living space, the Morrison’s design centered around a real, wood-burning fireplace with a dry-stacked, stone surround. Wanting the mantle to wrap around the edges of the fireplace, they decided against a solid beam, in exchange for a custom-built, box beam from reclaimed wood.

Black, White & Wood
To obtain a rustic, timeless appeal for their Montana cabin, the Morrison’s chose mainly black fixtures to contrast with other white and wood elements. “Sometimes when you use a lot of different wood tones like we did, it can seem really busy, so I think it was good to keep everything else simple,” said Morrison.

“One of the things that I like about the cabin is that sometimes when you think of reclaimed wood you think super rustic or really farmhouse,” said Ashley Carlson. “I think their cabin is the perfect blend of modern and rustic, so it’s got warmth, but it’s also very clean. I love the choice of those black fixtures. The combination of black, white and wood is so timeless.”

On the main floor, the baseboard, trim work, and wide plank, Douglas fir flooring are all reclaimed wood from Dakota Timber Company. “The flooring being reclaimed is one of the most surprising things to people because they just assume it’s newer, wood flooring,” said Morrison. To get the finished look, Ashley Carlson explained that the wood flooring had been smooth-planed to take off any rough surfaces, then stained to their choice. “Dakota Timber Company manufactures flooring that is ready to install. That means it’s tongue-in-groove and matched so it can be installed just as you would any hardwood flooring,” said Ashley Carlson.

Old-Growth Elegance
The Morrison’s flooring was once from warehouse floor joists that Dakota Timber Company milled into flooring. “The nice thing about this style of flooring is that you get the character,” said Ashley Carlson. “There are nail holes and splits, but it’s graded. We grade out all of the wood that isn’t usable for flooring. So, this is nice and smooth, with some character, while still being a really functional floor.”

“As far as the integrity of reclaimed flooring, it’s already lived its life in a different application,” said Ashley Carlson. “Everyone associates pine and fir as being a soft wood, which can be true when you have a fast-growth pine that’s grown to be milled into lumber. This type of wood is really old-growth and it’s had time to gain that structure and hardness which makes this such high-quality flooring. Also, the finishes that we apply to our reclaimed flooring is what we call, “bomb-proof,” so we’re using products that are really protecting the wood against scratching and denting.”

One of the only rooms in the house that is not centered around reclaimed wood, is the kitchen. This space was designed with custom cabinetry in a traditional, shaker-style, accented by black iron hardware. Quartz countertops, a farmhouse sink, white subway tile and glass pendants help subtly fuse rustic elements with more contemporary amenities.

Using wood windows throughout is not as common as vinyl windows have become, but for the Morrison’s Montana cabin, it’s a look that blended seamlessly with their surroundings. “Our builder, Roger, had to manually stain all of the wood pieces of the windows, so it was a lot more time consuming than installing vinyl, but I think it looks much nicer in this environment,” said Morrison.

In the master bedroom with a stunning view of the Montana landscape, a custom, live-edge bench was built for the foot of the bed.

Designing with Family
With Seth Carlson and Kelsey Morrison being siblings, we wondered what it was like working together on new construction. “We pretty much put our builder in touch with Seth and Ashley right away,” said Morrison. “We didn’t really get in the middle of that and just trusted their ideas. It was definitely a little challenging because we weren’t physically in Montana and our builder wasn’t here, so we just had to make sure that everyone was communicating.”

“I don’t think Roger, our builder, had ever worked with that much reclaimed wood, but he had a really good time working with it. I know he loved how it all turned out. Even though we weren’t able to be there every week to see the progress, it all went really smoothly,” said Morrison. “Our builder was amazing and Seth loved working with him. We spent a lot of time planning it and a lot of time on the design and all of the little details. It was a long process even before they started construction.”

Perfectly Imperfect
“When you look at the inside wood finishes, from the flooring to the ceiling, nothing matches perfectly,” said Morrison. “I had to kind of get over that, and realize that it’s all just wood, it doesn’t need to match. In the end, it all turned out well and came together. The color I chose for the flooring was the one thing that I didn’t like at first, it just seemed too warm compared to the ceiling. But, I ended up really liking it. I just had to get past the idea that everything had to match. By keeping some of the other things really simple it kept it from seeming busy.”

Usually, people who love reclaimed wood, tend to love imperfection almost more than perfection. “I’m working with a client right now and they want every single piece of wood to be the same and I have to remind them that’s it’s reclaimed wood,” said Seth Carlson. “Even if you use new wood, everything is going to vary a little. The thing that you have to accept if you want to use wood in your house, is that it’s a natural product and it’s going to vary. We see people all of the time that are concerned about that in the design process, but once it’s in their house, they think it’s amazing.”


Since January marks Dakota Timber Company’s one-year anniversary in their new, larger location, we asked Seth Carlson to tell us what’s in store for year two here.

Two Wood Trends to Watch For:

Wood Tile
According to Seth Carlson, one new trend that’s coming up fast is wood tiles in varying shapes like hexagons, triangles, octagons and even a herringbone design. He’s already been getting requests for them from people that have seen them online. Shapes like these can be done in more of a mosaic design versus the usual paneling style. “We are also releasing all of our new finishes and styles in January,” said Seth Carlson. “We want to provide a unique selection that no one else has, so we update them every year now.”

Live-Edge Slabs
Live-edge slabs have been popular for some time now, but lately, there’s been a surge of people stopping in to choose their slab and create their own table, bench or artistic masterpiece. “I work with the City of Fargo on this, so when trees are diseased on the boulevard, they have to get taken down. Every summer they’re removing all of these trees and we buy the logs and we saw them into slabs, then kill-grind and plane them so people can use them. We usually have around 100-200 in-stock and they sell out every three weeks. So, the big new thing is “Urban Wood”, straight from the streets of Fargo,” laughed Seth Carlson. “I’m actually in the process of meeting with all of the major cities in North Dakota and setting up more programs like this one, so we can get logs in from every community.”

The New Lumberyard Concept
A visit to Dakota Timber Company is not your typical lumberyard stop. Since marrying into the business, Ashley Carlson has closed down her shop, aendee, to take on a bigger role at Dakota Timber Company. She’s used her business skills to create a shopper-friendly store and fun experience. Choosing the right stain, species and overall look can be an overwhelming task, but Ashley Carlson shows that with a little organization and creative display, this task can be an enjoyable one. A trip to their lumberyard means perusing beams, panels, slabs and an array of finishes, perfectly sectioned out, displayed and named. She also spends much of her time online, helping to promote their latest projects and in-store events, classes and new DIY kits, all via social media.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as we can for people to utilize this material,” said Ashley Carlson. “Just simply by naming our paneling styles and having someone be able to hop on our website and ask questions has been huge. We’ve also done some standardization of finishes and sizing, so it just makes it a little easier for people to understand. This space has been great too, because we have everything under one roof.”

For more information, contact:
Dakota Timber Company
3202 7th Ave N., Fargo, N.D.


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