Photography by Dan Francis Photography
Although the Midwest is not known for mountains nor rustic chalets, this Horace couple wanted to bring their love for the great outdoors and passion for skiing and travel, into their 1994 home. They entrusted the 1,778 square-foot basement overhaul to architect and interior designer, Elizabeth Medd of studioBARRED architecture & interiors. To the homeowner’s delight, Medd fused both talents to give them more than they could have ever imagined. Their open-layout basement is based on beautiful craftsmanship with a Spanish, mountain-lodge influence, that is every bit as light and bright, as it is warm and cozy.
Raw Beauty Underfoot
Heading downstairs, guests are likely to take their time, admiring the sturdiness and raw beauty of the custom staircase. Solid steps made from three-inch-thick reclaimed wood from Dakota Timber Company can be felt underfoot, accompanied by a curved, sleek steel railing from Fargo Fabricators. This design was the brainchild of Medd and created a seamless flow from the original first-floor to the redesigned lower level. To help with the construction, Medd and the homeowner recruited general contractor, Dan Savageau. Recessed lighting illuminates the handrail and Spanish-inspired arches lead the way from room to room.
Open Floor Plan = Endless Options
Designed to capture the natural light, Medd worked with the homeowners to create a cozy, travel-inspired escape using Spanish elements with beautiful wood and stone, accompanied by soft textures and colors. The new layout allowed for a redesign of the kid’s bedrooms, as well as plenty of extra space for entertaining. “With two kids sharing the lower level, I wanted the space to be able to take a beating; be durable enough for running around and playing, yet still look beautiful and elegant for entertaining,” said Medd. With an open floor plan and nine-foot ceilings, the kids requested to keep the long hallway unobstructed and the homeowners obliged. This hallway was the perfect spot to let their two kids, 10 and 11, kick the ball around, especially in the winter months.
White textured walls accent earth-toned furnishings and provide the perfect balance of light and airy with warm and cozy. Wood ceilings and arches add dimension and character to the newly reopened floor plan. A wine bar, pool table area, movie theater and family room all flow effortlessly through the open space. Medd’s goal was to create a space that was every bit as comfortable as it was aesthetically appealing.”It is fairly rare to be a licensed architect and hold an NCIDQ certificate,” said Medd. “Because I am passionate about both fields (architecture and interior design), it was important for me to pursue both. It allows me to design projects that tell the client’s story through the entire language of the project, from the very beginning and down to the last detail.”
Wine & Dine
Just beyond the stairs, the wine bar makes a stunning first impression with it’s warm, wood ceiling tiles and illuminated space. Medd designed the bar to be fully functional with a sink, full refrigerator and freezer. The woodwork and cabinetry were completed by Fargo Cabinets, Inc. with details executed by Dan Savageau Construction, along with custom, built-in cabinets Medd designed for wine storage. Floating shelves accented with lighting are accompanied by a backsplash made of a geometrically patterned, porcelain tile from TileXDesign.
The blue-grey pool table, which is ornamented with Buffalo nickels, is a statement piece that Medd came across at Hot Spring Spas & Pool Tables in West Fargo.
Movie Night + Tee Time
A few steps from the wine bar and pool table is the family’s sunken movie theater with nearly 10-foot ceilings. Comfy loungers, side tables and plenty of pillows make the space cozy and inviting. Instead of typical home theater seating, Medd opted to install a more versatile design with specially-designed benches and one large, custom-made cushion.
One of the benches is designed to transform into additional bedding for guests. “The idea was to have one large cushion, custom-made, so it wouldn’t slide around and have uncomfortable separations between cushions,” said Medd. “We included a large screen for the theater, and soon this space will also accommodate a golf simulator, so the extra space will definitely be used.”Stained, knotty alder wood continues throughout the space with deep Benjamin Moore tones on the walls. To hone in the room’s acoustics and manage any potential moisture issues in the basement slab, Medd chose Kinetics flooring from JJ Flooring; an ideal choice for a lower-level movie theater.
It’s not just the home’s design that was mountain-inspired; their dog, Alta, takes its name from a ski resort in Utah.
Fun by the Fire
The large, see-through fireplace is the primary focal point of the connected rooms and was selected by Medd, then sourced by the homeowners. With a reclaimed, timber mantel from Dakota Timber Company, the clean, simple design is larger than average and placed closer to the floor for a more authentic and connected look. On the pool table side of the fireplace, an additional fun detail includes two arched inlets with chalkboard paint (Benjamin Moore Ebony King) that flank the stone hearth. “Using chalkboard paint allows the homeowners a fun design element where they can keep track of game scores or write fun notes for birthdays or other gatherings,” explained Medd.”Growing up in Arizona, I was exposed to a great deal of desert architecture. When I design, I like to incorporate some of those unique elements that I grew up with and studied early in my career,” said Medd. “It’s a part of who I am, so it always comes out in some way in the design process.” As an architect and interior designer, this remodel was Medd’s first residential project in the Fargo-Moorhead area, but she has worked extensively with many residential projects in Arizona, Utah and Georgia before she returned to the area.“It is important for me to really understand my client and use my knowledge and experience as an architect and interior designer to deliver a design that reflects who that client is, and what that client is passionate about.”
Elizabeth Medd, studioBARRED architecture & interiors
On the opposite side of the fireplace, the family room’s design is centered around the stone hearth and their mountain-top travels. Deep-stained, wood built-ins flank the fireplace and warm wood extends to a coffered ceiling. According to Medd, the empty wall facing the fireplace was originally designed to have built-ins and bookcases, but after further discussion, they decided to keep the wall open. This would allow them enough space to eventually create a gallery wall, filled with art pieces and photos from their family’s travels.12
For the family room furnishings, Medd needed to provide ample seating and textures that would reflect elements that were reminiscent of a ski chalet. While the family owned the sofa previous to the renovation, Medd worked with the homeowners to find elements like the back table and coffee table from Pottery Barn, and the side table from West Elm. The nesting tables and chair underneath the stairwell are from Ashley Furniture Homestore and the pottery was found at Scheels Home & Hardware, Eco Chic Home and McNeal & Friends.
“Although basements are typically thought of as being cold, I think we’ve done a good job to ensure that’s not the case,” said Medd. “We’ve brightened and refined it with the furnishings and incorporated pieces from their travels. It’s an eclectic mix, but it’s intentional to reflect their personal life, and balance those elements with the natural warmth of what one would think of at a ski chalet.” Although more pieces and artwork will be added, Medd has opted to be patient and wait for the right pieces, rather than rush the remaining details.10
“I’m obsessed with layers, details and multiple levels in houses. I love the textural aspect of space and material, and I enjoy the challenge of creating a balanced space that has a defined textural quality. It’s nice to have nooks and crannies and places where you can escape and yet still be a part of the bigger group,” explained Medd. A perfect example of this concept is the sunken theater and cozy reading nook that she designed under the stairwell.1
Although we don’t show all bedrooms and side rooms, their daughter’s newly expanded room also received a makeover with a few simple requests; soft pinks, ruffles and a chandelier. To carry over the light and bright feeling from the rest of the remodel, Medd made sure to incorporate recessed lighting, instead of just one central light. According to Medd, when designing for the kid’s basement bedrooms, proper lighting was the most important element.
Then & Now
The homeowner’s once dark and segmented space left Medd with a few challenges before she could even begin the remodel. Due to moisture issues, the entire concrete slab had to be removed and repoured, while the first-floor fireplace was also removed. “When we started digging into the project, it was clear that the first-floor brick fireplace was too heavy for the frame of the house, so it had to go,” said Medd. “The house had started sinking and bowing with floor height differences up to three-inches across a room. The contractor, Dan Savageau, worked over the course of a couple weeks to get the structure level again. Dan did such a great job on this project and he was fantastic to work with.”To make the kid’s bathroom more efficient, they opted to move the existing sauna to its own room; a plan which helped open up more space to expand the bedrooms. Tackling the basement first was a strategic move in order to secure the foundation. For her next project, Medd will be working with the homeowners on plans to redesign the home’s first floor and repair the damage that was caused by the original brick fireplace.
About the Architect + Interior Designer
Originally from Arizona, Elizabeth Medd is the lead designer and architect at studioBARRED architecture & interiors. After earning her Undergraduate at Arizona State University and later her Masters at NDSU, Medd worked on world-class commercial, as well as hospitality and luxury residential projects throughout the country. Ten years ago, Medd and her husband, Todd Medd along with their two children, moved from Utah to Fargo in order to be closer to his roots; he’s also an architect, principal at JLG Architects in Downtown Fargo. Upon the return to Fargo, Medd worked as a job captain and commercial interior designer for JLG for six-years before eventually opting to start her own firm.
Central to Medd’s design philosophy is the belief that designers must be able to understand people in order to design for them. “I am fascinated by the human mind and how people think; what drives people and makes them do certain things,” said Medd. “As an architect and interior designer, it’s really important for me to fully understand my client and deliver a design that reflects who that client is and convey what they’re passionate about. After all, the client is the one using the space day in and day out, so I want them to feel connected. My role is to be a creative and technical guiding force that wrangles the aspirations and intentions of the client into a successful, and beautiful architectural work.”
Find the Finishes
Architect & interior designer – Elizabeth Medd, studioBARRED architecture & interiors
General contractor – Dan Savageau Construction
Tile and flooring subcontractor – Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Lighting – Henricks, Ferguson Bath Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Pottery Barn
Reclaimed wood – Dakota Timber Company
Stair railing – Fargo Fabricators
Woodwork, cabinetry contractor & custom mirror frames – Dan Savageau Construction
Cabinetry – Fargo Cabinets, Inc.
Backsplash tile – TileXDesign
Movie theater flooring – JJ Flooring
Paint – Benjamin Moore (colors: Deep Space, Ebony King, Glacier White)
Tile – sourced from Syverson Tile
Pool table – Hot Spring Spas & Pool Tables 2
Pool table light – Valley Lights
Interior painting – The Painting Girls
Concrete – Cash Concrete
For more information, contact:
studio BARRED Architecture & Interiors
Elizabeth Medd – Architect, NCARB, NCIDQ | Design Principal