Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

Culture, Entertaining, Home Design, Fargo, Interior Design, DIY

Author: Susan Hozak

Mezzaluna: After Hours [Taylor & Valerie Snelling]

Story by Tracy NicholsonPhotography by M. Schleif Photography If you’re in the fine-dining industry like Taylor Snelling, the end of the holidays marks a time to celebrate survival. To see…

Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by M. Schleif Photography

If you’re in the fine-dining industry like Taylor Snelling, the end of the holidays marks a time to celebrate survival. To see how Mezzaluna dines after-hours, we joined Taylor and his wife, Valerie at their Brandt Crossing home in South Fargo. This time, instead of pampering the guests, their hardworking team took a seat and toasted to another successful year; in the kitchen, and behind the bar. We started with the main course of maple-glazed duck, paired it with a side of white sweet potato and apple risotto, then chased it with a hibiscus punch that’ll make you forget all about your new year’s resolutions.

Curious to see how their upscale team does casual Sunday, we’re happy to report that we had a blast taste-testing and sipping with the Snellings, executive chef and co-owner, Joe Brunner, mixologist, Max Parker, and Mezzaluna’s manager, Matthew Bengston. Even outside of Mezzaluna’s historic walls, it’s easy to see that their lively conversation is based on comradery, friendship, and a shared passion for the industry. Between sipping, talking and tasting, we admired the floral from Prairie Petals; and like all good guests… we asked for seconds.

New Year…New Dreams
For Taylor and Valerie Snelling, this past year was a non-stop adventure that started with their wedding and ended with a smooth transition into co-ownership of Mezzaluna, with Executive Chef, Joe Brunner. Working with the previous owners, Sarah and Eric Watson, the two would get six months of running the Downtown Fargo restaurant on their own, before officially taking over ownership in April 2018. 

“Eric and Sarah have been wonderful. When April came around, we felt like we understood all of the important aspects of how to run the restaurant and the day-to-day tasks,” said Taylor Snelling. “The Watsons are great mentors of mine and I still keep up with them. They gave me an opportunity to do something, this early in my life, that I wasn’t expecting for another 15 to 20 years. Every day that Joe and I walk into Mezzaluna, we make sure that we don’t take it for granted. It’s such a blessing to be able to make our passion our lifestyle.”


“Punch is kind of the original, American cocktail.  traditional Jamaican punch that they usually serve around the holiday time – it’s also called ‘Hibiscus Sorelle’ punch. We use Appleton Jamaican Rum and Oleo Saccharum. To create the Oleo Saccharum, just take a bunch of lime peel, put it in sugar, and it macerates overnight; then you dilute it. Normally, with a cocktail in the bar, you would shake it and it would incorporate your dilution and air. With this punch, instead of diluting it with water, we use hibiscus tea. We use lots of ginger, some cinnamon clove and allspice. It’s a three-step process that’s not super hard to do, it’s just a bit time-consuming. Once it’s done, it’s very easy, communal, and you can store it for a long time.”
Mezzaluna Mixologist – Max Parker

Mezzaluna Mixologist Max Parker’s

25 oz. of sugar by weight

Zest of 12 limes

25 oz. of lime juice

75 oz. of Jamaican rum (Appleton V/X preferably)

6 quarts water 

1 lb. dried hibiscus flowers

2 tablespoons whole allspice

10 whole cloves

10 whole cinnamon stix

And 8 oz. fresh peeled and chopped ginger

To start, take the peeled limes and put them with the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cover and let macerate overnight.
Take the water, hibiscus, spices, and ginger and put in a large pot; bring to boil and let simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and let steep until the tea is very tart and full flavored but not tannic and the spices come through. Strain into a separate container and measure 3-quarts of tea and incorporate into sugar until it dissolves. 
Add rum and lime juice. Put the entire punch in fridge to chill overnight. It will be ready to serve. Add ice, lime wheels and grate fresh nutmeg over top. If you want it to be bubbly pour some champagne over top and enjoy!

Max’s Tip for Cleaner Cocktails
To make the over-sized ice cubes, Parker uses one-directional freezing and a technique using nearly boiling water, frozen into containers. This directs the impurities to the bottom of the block, which then gets discarded. The ultra-clean top gets sliced off and cut into larger cubes to help keep the drink colder, longer and preserve the integrity of the cocktail.

As a self-taught mixologist, Parker has read over 33 books on mixology and never misses an opportunity to hone his skills. To create his signature cocktails, he often looks to the flavor profiles of desserts and pastries, for inspiration. His theory is that if it works in desserts, with a few sweet adjustments, it can work in a cocktail.

MezzalunaExecutive Chef: Joe Brunner’s 
White Sweet Potato and Apple Risotto with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts
Serves: 8                                                                                     

8 Strips of thick bacon (diced)

2 Shallots (minced)

5 cloves of garlic (minced)

4 Cups of arborio rice

½ Cup of white wine

¾ Gallon of chicken stock

1 Tablespoon of allspice

1 Tablespoon of cardamom

Salt and pepper to taste

12 Brussel sprouts, shaved

2 Tablespoons of butter

½ Cup of shredded parmesan

8 oz of toasted and crushed hazelnut

 Directions:-Start off by rendering the bacon on a large pot, big enough to fit all of the rice and liquid.-Remove the bacon once rendered, but keep the fat in the pan. On medium-high heat, sweat shallots and garlic until aromatic. Then toss in the Arborio rice and toast until the grains give off a nutty aroma.-Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add your allspice, cardamom, then salt and pepper. -Slowly add chicken stock – 2 cups at a time, while continually stirring. The key to creamy risotto is the constant stirring to draw all of the starch out of the rice. -Once all of your stock is added, and the rice is al dente. Toss in your Brussel sprouts, cheese, and butter and mix until incorporated.-Finish by placing into whatever serving vessel you choose and garnish with the bacon and hazelnuts.

Rules of Risotto:
“Every holiday, I try to make risotto; I just want to bring a little bit of skill to the table, rather than the usual mash potatoes and stuffing. If you have a risotto recipe, my advice is to follow it. There are no shortcuts – the whole idea of stirring it the entire time is to draw the starch out of the rice and then make it creamy,” said Brunner. “Keep tasting it until it’s al dente, but not too crunchy or soft; then I always finish it with a small amount of parmesan cheese. I also think it’s important to toast the rice at the start, to extract the nutty flavor.”

“With roasting duck, there’s a lot of fat, so you first have to figure out a way to get rid of all the fat so you can achieve a crisp skin. Yesterday, we poached it in water for 10-minutes, trying to release some of that fat, so it can roast faster,” said Brunner. “My theory for roasting anything – duck, turkey, or chicken, is to do it fast and at a high temp, otherwise I think it gets too dry. Duck can also be eaten a little undercooked, but it’s not advised to eat the legs undercooked – it’s essentially like cooking a turkey.”

MezzalunaExecutive Chef: Joe Brunner’s Maple Roasted Duck
1 – 5 to 6 lb. whole duck, giblets removed2 – sprigs of rosemary2 – Sprigs of thyme1 – OrangeSalt & pepperButcher’s twineMaple syrup

Directions:NOTE: The day before you plan on roasting and serving the duck, make sure that you blanch the duck in simmering water to render some of the fat before roasting. Let air dry in your fridge so the skin is tacky and roasts easier.

1. First, stuff and truss the bird with butchers twine. Put the thyme, rosemary, and orange inside the cavity of the duck.

2. Next is trussing; this involves tying the two legs together and pulling the two strings around the bird and tying at the top. Trussing allows the duck to cook all at the same time instead of certain parts cooking before the others.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (roasting the duck at a higher temperature will ensure that the meat will stay moist as well as cook it a lot faster).

NOTE: Make sure the duck is sitting on top of a cooling rack, on top of a sheet pan because there will be a lot of fat rendering off, and it needs a place to collect the fat.

4. Insert the duck into the oven and set a timer for 45 minutes. Careful not to open the oven too many times to check because the mixture of fat and juices coming out of the duck will make your kitchen quite smoky.

5. After the first 45 minutes, open the oven and rotate the pan 180 degrees. Close the door and set another timer for 45 minutes. By this time the duck should be done. Remove from the oven and insert a digital thermometer into the inner thigh area and make sure it reaches at least 165 degrees.

6. Let rest for 15 minutes. Once rested. Pour the maple syrup over the top to make a glaze on the duck. Carve and enjoy!

Chef Joe Brunner is co-owner of Mezzaluna and graduated from NDSCS’s Culinary School in Wahpeton, N.D. in 2016. While he has been the head chef for nearly two years, he began his career as an intern for both Mezzaluna and Rustica, while attending college. _____________________________________________

Seasonal Inspiration
Our focus is to change our menu as the season changes; using the ingredients that are earth is providing to us, and featuring items that speak to our Midwestern culture,” said Taylor Snelling. “We love to source from our local purveyors and want to be as sustainable as possible.”

“During the fall and winter months, we bring in more savory items and comfort food. We also incorporate a lot of warmer flavors with seasonings like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamon,” said Brunner.

Get to Know: Mezzaluna’s Taylor Snelling
Snelling grew up in Litchfield, Minnesota and moved to the Fargo/Moorhead area in 2010. He was first introduced to the restaurant industry as a student at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, where he discovered a front-of-house passion for creating the ultimate guest experience. Snelling’s enthusiasm led him to a career behind the infamous horseshoe bar at Mezzaluna, in Downtown Fargo. He quickly transitioned from a host to a server, and ultimately, a bartender. While perfecting his craft, Snelling was promoted to Bar Manager, then later took on the role of General Manager. Today, he is Mezzaluna’s co-owner with Brunner, and thrives on setting a superior standard of service in one of Fargo’s most celebrated restaurants.

Gather with Grace 
“We’re having a great time and we just want to always be a business that takes care of our people. Our saying is, ‘If we take care of our people, then they’ll take care of the guests.’ Our team knows that the six-hours of each day that we’re open, is the most important part of the day,” said Taylor Snelling.

“We all have very strong feelings related to time around the dinner table,” said Taylor Snelling. Some of my best memories, either with family or friends, has been spent around the dinner table. Even though Mezzaluna is considered fine dining, we want to be able to always provide a high level of service, but in a humble and comfortable environment that guests will want to come back to, and bring their friends and family.”
For more information or reservations, contact:
Taylor Snelling / Owner
Joe Brunner / Owner & Executive Chef
309 Roberts Street North, Fargo


No Comments on Mezzaluna: After Hours [Taylor & Valerie Snelling]

From Our Tables to Yours [Grain Designs]

Story by Tracy NicholsonShop photography by Dan Francis Photography, Finished table photos by Grain DesignsStore photos by M. Schleif Photography Grain Designs has built their passion on embracing the imperfect….

Story by Tracy Nicholson
Shop photography by Dan Francis Photography, Finished table photos by Grain Designs
Store photos by M. Schleif Photography

Grain Designs has built their passion on embracing the imperfect. Every knot, scrape and nail hole, reflecting scarred wood that tells a unique story. This month, the team used their passion for design to ignite someone else’s; West Fargo’s Landon Solberg. At 11-years-old, Solberg has spent the last year courageously fighting brain cancer alongside his family and parents, Andrea and Travis Solberg. Although he loves sports, he also has a love of design, spending hours in the hospital watching HGTV, and expertly planning renovations for his family’s home. Recently, Landon’s family was nominated to take part in Grain Designs’ initiative, “From Our Tables to Yours”. This was Landon’s chance to gain first-hand experience at building a table with the Grain Designs team, and the team’s chance to give back to the community they love. 

From back left, Grant Koenig, Brayden Horgan, Zach Nelson, Travis & Griffin Solberg and Pat Bresnahan. From front left, Blain Mikkonen, Landon Solberg, Andrea Solberg, Emry Solberg, Cody Freestone.

Give Back & Gather
With work that’s been well-received throughout the community, Grain Designs wanted to find a way to return the favor. What transpired, was their unique table build initiative called, “From Our Tables to Yours”. This idea gave them a chance to give back in a meaningful way, and also remind people of the significance and often lost-art of gathering around the table. They asked the community to nominate deserving people to receive a hand-crafted table, then teamed up with At Your Service Clean & Cuisine to cater in a meal for a deserving family or community member. This will be the fourth project they’ve completed on behalf of community members. Landon Solberg was nominated by family friend and neighbor, Katie Sullivan.

“The community support puts food on our tables, so we want to do the same,” said Blain Mikkonen, founding partner at Grain Designs. “Since we partner with At-Your-Service Clean and Cuisine, it’s a two-part initiative; we actually gift a handmade table to a family in need, whether it’s through stewardship or hardship, and the community is able to nominate them. We’ve done this for three years now; this will be our third table and we’ve also done a large shelving project for a deserving family in South Dakota. Our first table was for a Moorhead resident who has since passed away. At the time, he was really a steward for the community and was facing some hardships.”

“Landon has a passion for design, so this project is a little bit unique in that he wanted to help design the table from start to finish,” said Mikkonen. “I met with him at the store and we designed the table on the computer – then he picked the stain and we talked about the dimensions and how the design process works. He’s also designed a bench to go with the dining table.”

To see their work in progress, we visited the Grain Designs rural workshop located on the site of their new wedding and event venue, The Pines. Between treatments and clinical trials in Cincinnati, Landon Solberg, along with his family, arrived ready and excited to get to work on the table he designed himself.

To walk him through the process, the Grain Designs team set up step-by-step stations, from the initial cutting stages to the table saw planing, then finally choosing between stain samples so he could make his final design selections.

“Landon’s really creative; you can tell he has a true passion for design,” said Mikkonen. “His parents and family were really excited for this project and they told us the story of him designing their house – he’s had a say in a lot of their renovations.”

“We have an unfinished basement, so Landon’s already put his personal touches on that space,” said Landon’s mom, Andrea Solberg. “He’s picked out the carpet, countertops, lighting and really everything. It’s a quaint, small area and he wanted Star Wars, NDSU and a little bit of Broncos. When we were in the hospital, we watched HGTV the whole time.”

“This is just icing on the cake that he gets to work on another piece for their home. When we designed the table together, we talked about functionality and how you seat the most people around a table, leg interference and the available space in the home,” explained Mikkonen.

“To seat more people, he decided on a metal, pedestal base. He chose a white pine wood, which is from the Globe grain elevator in Superior, Wisconsin,” said Mikkonen. “When it was built, it was the largest grain elevator in the world, so the wood has a ton of history. Since the base is welded metal, Landon was able to do some welding with Grant. For the top, he chose an ebony glaze, which is a grey finish and one of our most popular right now – so he’s made really good design choices.”

Sharing a Passion
“It’s hard for us to donate money as we’re trying to build our business, but donating product and time is something we can do,” said Mikkonen. “This is one way that we can give back while sharing our craft and passion with others. The beautiful thing about dining tables is that we feel it’s one of the most important pieces in the home. The dining table is the one place where you can really bring people together; it’s about creating that sense of community and family, especially in times of need. If we can bring them back to the table and talk about what’s important, that’s the premise behind this program.”

“The dining table is the one place where you can really bring people together. It’s about creating that sense of community and family, especially in times of need.”
Blain Mikkonen, Grain Designs

Counting their Blessings
Nearly one year ago, Landon was diagnosed with a grade III, aggressive brain tumor, also known as Anaplastic Astrocytomas. What began as severe headaches, quickly evolved into a much more serious condition that had doctors scrambling for answers. “It’s in his thalamus and down into his brain stem. Your brain stem is the control center of your body, so it can’t be removed and it can’t be operated on because it’s a grade III. It acts fairly aggressive and doesn’t normally respond well to chemo and radiation,” said Andrea Solberg.

One year later, Landon has undergone multiple brain surgeries at Sanford and Mayo and is now part of a clinical trial which has their family traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio, every four weeks. Although radiation has not shrunk the tumor, it remains stable which gives them hope. They may not know what tomorrow brings, but the Solbergs plan to keep fighting, praying and searching for a treatment that will provide a better prognosis.

“He’s a special kid; he’s so kind and he never complains,” said Andrea Solberg. “He missed quite a bit of school last year, so his school had a robot and it was the coolest thing. The West Fargo Technology Center brought it in; it was on wheels with a pole and a big iPad. He could control it, so he parked it in his seat and he’d walk in in the morning and the kids would say, ‘Hi Landon!’, and he’d wave back. I thought it was really cool because when we were in the hospital in Cincinnati, the doctors there had never seen anything like this.”

Landon’s Light
Landon’s Light was an idea that transpired from Casey Glandt of Go Promo while the Solbergs were with Landon in the hospital. Glandt is a family friend and attended school at Valley City with both Travis and Andrea Solberg. “He makes a lot of apparel at his company, so he and his wife made these shirts that say, ‘Landon’s Light’,” said Andrea Solberg. “Landon is a huge Harry Potter fan. So, the backs of the shirts have a Harry Potter quote.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore

“At the time, when we were in the ICU, it was kind of a fog; we barely remember it,” said Andrea Solberg. “But, the one thing we do remember was, all of a sudden, everyone starting changing their profiles on Facebook to Landon’s Light and tagging us in it. We just sat and cried.”

Support the Solbergs
“We’re just really lucky to have all of this support and everyone’s prayers; we never expected it. My sister-in-law does the Landon’s Light Facebook page, there’s a CaringBridge page and a friend of ours started a GoFundMe link to help us,” said Andrea Solberg. “His school (West Fargo’s Freedom Elementary) and all of the teachers have really rallied around him. I know this project is a lot of time and energy on Grain Designs’ part, but it means a lot to Landon; he was so excited about it.”Any donations to the Solberg’s GoFundMe link will help to lessen the burden of their medical bills, lost time at work, and travel expenses like flights, lodging and meals. These are ever-growing expenses that their family endures each month for trips to Cincinnati as part of the clinical trials. 

Know a family in need?
Go to graindesigns.com and click on the “Give Back” link where you can fill out a nomination form for a deserving family or individual. Each giveaway includes a custom-designed table and a full meal catered from At Your Service Clean & Cuisine.

“Whether the deserving recipients are facing hardship or being rewarded for stewardship, our hope is that a custom Grain Designs table and a catered meal will be a beacon of hope and conversation, for years to come,” Grant Koenig, Grain Designs.

For more information, or to nominate a family, contact:
Grain Designs

At Your Service Clean & Cuisine
To Donate to Landon’s Light Medical Fund or follow his journey:

Follow his journey on Facebook: Landons Light

No Comments on From Our Tables to Yours [Grain Designs]

Arizona Airbnb [Trever Hill Design]

Story by Trever Hill Photography provided by Jessica Knutson, Photos Copyright Vacasa.com – Listing AZSC120 on vacasa.com  When my longtime friend, Jessica Knutson, hired me to assist her with Scottsdale, Arizona…

Story by Trever Hill 
Photography provided by Jessica Knutson, Photos Copyright Vacasa.com – Listing AZSC120 on vacasa.com 

When my longtime friend, Jessica Knutson, hired me to assist her with Scottsdale, Arizona home, I quickly packed my bag and headed south. Even though she had me at ‘Arizona’, I was even more intrigued when she told me that she was considering renting it out as an Airbnb. After a few brief trips to the always-sunny state, the result was a beautiful space that would make anyone want to extend their vacation.  

Mid-century Modification
While Jessica lives in Bismarck, and me in Fargo, we had no problem making quick trips to a warmer climate to complete her redesign. When she made the decision that it was going to be a vacation rental, we knew there would need to be some modifications to our existing design. In the original plan, we had it furnished with one-of-a-kind art, some of which was by local artist, Jessica Wachter. We needed to decide which pieces should stay, and which would need to be replaced.

We decided to keep unique pieces like the floral print we found at a local vintage shop, which was done by an Arizona artist. Another piece that stayed, is near the front door; this was purchased at a Bismarck art gala and later brought to Arizona. The home was comprised of mainly expensive furnishings and a few more affordable pieces that we knew might work well for a rented vacation home. 

Jessica and I pulled together the final look with a lot of pieces from Restoration Hardware and various other places, including Wayfair. We also mixed in a few pieces from Jessica’s Bismarck home. The Arizona Airbnb market is competitive, so we wanted to make sure every detail was perfect, but also keep a cost-effective mindset throughout the process. Since this is essentially a vacation home for others, we made sure to choose only furnishings that we knew would be able to withstand heavy wear and tear.

Meet the Owner: Jessica Knutson“Traveling from Fargo and working with Trever was a breeze. He would fly in and we would hit the ground running; usually hitting up a modern furniture store closer to the airport, and then circling back to the house. He was a trooper – just, go go go, and had a great eye that did not get distracted as we searched. He was able to find things that I would have never seen or even thought about that were so special and really tied the place together.”

“The living room was a different shape and I really wanted to highlight both the fireplace and the seating area. Trever came in and moved the furniture around in a way that really opened up and brightened the space.”

“The fun part about this home was the style. I had existing, ‘chunky’ furniture from my North Dakota house, but I wanted to incorporate the Mid-century modern and make it a bit more fun. It didn’t take a lot of money or new pieces; just the right ones, in the right places, to really pull together and blend with what I already had.”

Find the Finishes: Common Area

Sofa, coffee table & accent chairs – RH ModernWhite swan chaise – Brickell CollectionDining table and chairs – Restoration HardwareArea rug – HomeGoodsDining mirror & outdoor coffee table – WayfairOutdoor furniture – Restoration Hardware,  Design Within ReachAccessories – Mixture of vintage stores, previous homes & HomeGoods

Find the Finishes: Bed & Bath

Master bedroom – Restoration Hardware
Spare bedroom beds – RH ModernSpare bedroom lighting – Vintage shopsSpare bedroom bedding – HomeGoodsSpare bedroom flooring – CoreTec Laguna OakSpare bedroom countertops – MarbleBathroom vanities – Ikea

For more information, contact:
Trever Hill Design

View the Full Vacation Listing: Copyright Vacasa.com – Listing AZSC120 on vacasa.com (smaller text)

No Comments on Arizona Airbnb [Trever Hill Design]

Refreshed Retreat [Lindsey Grace Interiors]

Story by Lindsey Christie Photography by Northern Stories A few months ago the Stibbe family reached out to me to help pull together the remaining of their upstairs bedrooms, which…

Story by Lindsey Christie

Photography by Northern Stories

A few months ago the Stibbe family reached out to me to help pull together the remaining of their upstairs bedrooms, which included their master bedroom. Trisha Stibbe is a wife and mother of four littles, a talented writer and somehow also finds time to give back to several amazing causes. Her home is full of love and a little bit of chaos, which is highlighted on her blog 3mistersandasister.com. She also has great taste and a knack for design herself, which only made this project so much more fun.

The space itself had great bones, a natural sliding barn door, a gorgeous existing light fixture and tons of natural light. We started the process out by reviewing inspiration images, and I immediately knew we were on the same page aesthetic-wise. I dove into designing and presented the Stibbes with digital design boards that gave them a realistic idea of what their space would look like.

When designing, I took into account the Stibbe’s busy lifestyle. I didn’t want to sacrifice the bright and airy look that they were going for, but also knew it needed to hold up and be functional for cozy, family movie nights. I presented them with an upholstered bed frame in an ivory, outdoor-grade fabric; gorgeous, cozy and easy to clean.

To add in a bit of contrast, I went with a set of updated grey/blue end tables. The little brass accents on the feet are my favorite! Since the tables brought not only color but also texture to the space, I went with a pair of subtle, but classic table lamps. Stibbe had an existing leather bench she wanted to utilize in the space, and I love the natural tones in the area. We tied it in with a rattan and acrylic, painted accent chair.

From the start, one of the biggest goals was to make the space feel finished. Since the room was already carpeted, Stibbe and I decided that we would forgo a rug in the space. Instead, we dove into designing a set of custom draperies, and it really brought the room to a whole new level.

When it comes draperies, there are so many details that go into making them right. It starts with the selection of fabric and hardware. Stibbe fell in love with the color and texture of the fabric. We tied in the brass accents in the space with the hardware. Karen Anderson at Rose Creek Designs then set the panels into production and executed them perfectly within the space. We sourced artwork from Etsy, and I worked with Stibbe to select the bedding for the space. The final accessories to pull everything together are sourced locally from McNeal & Friends.


If you ask any designer, install day is like our super bowl. I love creating that magical HGTV moment for clients. I got the call from my receiving warehouse that the items for the Stibbe’s home had arrived sooner than expected, and I knew that they were away on an end-of-summer family vacation before school started. The Stibbes came home to not only their own beds after vacation, but an entirely new space. These are the projects that make what I do so worth it, I couldn’t be more grateful for the trust that the Stibbe’s gave me as a designer; it definitely shows in the outcome of their beautifully finished space.

For more information, contact: 

Lindsey Christie of Lindsey Grace Interiors




No Comments on Refreshed Retreat [Lindsey Grace Interiors]

Girl Meets Farm [ Season #2 meets Baby #1 ]

Story by Tracy Nicholson & Molly Yeh Photography courtesy of Molly Yeh With holiday excitement in the air and a bun in the oven (due in March), Molly Yeh debuted…

Story by Tracy Nicholson & Molly Yeh
Photography courtesy of Molly Yeh

With holiday excitement in the air and a bun in the oven (due in March), Molly Yeh debuted the big news last month, during the premiere of her second season of Food Network’s show, Girl Meets Farm. Filmed in the home she shares with her husband Nick Hagen, a fifth-generation farmer in East Grand Forks, this local food blogger has been stirring up the food scene since 2009. Since her number one fans are right here in the Midwest, we reached out to Yeh to help us kick off our holiday baking with a fresh take on an old favorite, brown sugar cookies.

Meet Molly Yeh!

Years before I became hip to Levain or Birdbath (my two favorite cookie spots in New York), or Carol’s Cookies (my favorite in Chicago), or the salty bittersweet chocolate chip cookie at the town bakery, my older sister invented a cookie that is so jarring in principle, it’ll make you either scoot fast in the opposite direction, or stick around just to see if the world explodes; chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips.

No, it’s not just a sugar cookie, homogeneous throughout and frosted with glee. It’s a chewy, gooey, crackly puck that doesn’t have a name to ride on or a trust fund under its butt. It’s not decorated or fancy. All it has to offer is that it’s a quality cookie.

These will show you that with all of the research put out into the world by Jacques Torres and J. Kenji López-Alt, one can achieve a beyond-terrific cookie, sans the hook of them containing chocolate. Because a great chocolate chip cookie isn’t great because it has chocolate, a great chocolate chip cookie is great because it has a foundation of gold; something we don’t give enough credit to. Is this getting preachy? The point is, I appreciate the spaces filled between the chocolate chips, and just like I prefer my challah without raisins, I often prefer my cookies without any chocolate to disrupt the perfect blend of butter and sugar.

“I appreciate the spaces filled between the chocolate chips, and just like I prefer my challah without raisins, I often prefer my cookies without any chocolate to disrupt the perfect blend of butter and sugar.”
Molly Yeh



Molly Yeh’s
Brown Sugar Cookies

[Makes about 8 large cookies]

3 – c. flour

1 – tsp. kosher salt

1 – tsp. baking powder

¼ – tsp. baking soda

1 – c. unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ – c. sugar

1 – c. packed dark brown sugar

2 – large eggs

1 – tbs. vanilla bean paste or extract

Flaky sea salt, for topping

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each, then add the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out hockey-puck-size mounds of dough (about two ice cream scoops of dough, balled up and flattened slightly) and place them on the baking sheet. It’s okay for them to sit snugly up against each other for this step. Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of flaky salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 72. (In a pinch, you can bake these after just 1 hour of refrigerating, but curing the dough for 24 hours will yield the best results.) Feel free to bake these in batches or freeze some to bake at a later date (frozen cookies can be baked right out of the freezer, but they’ll need more time in the oven).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the cookies three inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until the bottoms are lightly browned, but the centers are still soft. Begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes. Cool on the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove to the rack to cool completely.


Find this recipe in Yeh’s cookbook, Molly on the Range:
Recipes and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm © 2016 by Molly Yeh. Reprinted with permission from Rodale Books.Follow Molly Yeh!

  • Catch episodes from her TV series, Girl Meets Farm on Food Network, Sundays at 11:00 a.m.
  • Watch video exclusives with Molly Yeh and get how-to’s on cake decorating and making your favorite childhood snacks at FoodNetwork.com/GirlMeetsFarm.
  • Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #GirlMeetsFarm.
  • Follow Yeh on Facebook and Instagram @mynameisyeh.


No Comments on Girl Meets Farm [ Season #2 meets Baby #1 ]

Style & Stage Through New Year’s Day [Trever Hill Design]

Story by Trever Hill with Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography With holiday and new year parties nearing, I decided to stage and style a photo shoot using locally-sourced…

Story by Trever Hill with Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
With holiday and new year parties nearing, I decided to stage and style a photo shoot using locally-sourced finds, with the idea that it can then be recreated in your own home. The White House Co.’s downtown warehouse provided the perfect backdrop with a bonus – my pick from hundreds of vintage furnishings in a rainbow of rich colors and textures. This setting will show you a fun fusion of local art as well as vintage and modern decor that you can rent or buy to host your holidays. Since furnishing trends tend to emulate fashion trends, I made sure to include a few model friends to show off some bold party looks from my friends at Downtown Fargo’s Others and Proper & Prim.

Borrowing Beauty
In the midst of planning a party but don’t think your furnishings are festive enough? Most people don’t realize that if they want to spruce up their space, it’s as easy as hiring a local designer for a consult or renting a couple of items for a day or weekend. You can really make a huge impact by adding in just a few fun pieces in interesting colors or textures.

Lovely Lounging
Our festive lounge scene is focused on the velvet settee from The White House Co. along with a coordinating large-scale art piece from my friend, Jessica Wachter. To add a vintage-mod dimension, I included a vintage area rug over the sisal rug, modern coffee table and fun, velvet side chairs. The majority of these items can be rented or purchased in Fargo-Moorhead with the exception of the sisal rug – this was an online find.

Embrace your Inner Bookworm
Vintage, hardcover books are not just for reading. They also make great decor when you coordinate the colors in rows or stacks on shelves, side tables or tablescapes. The White House Co. sells these and often accents the colorful rows with rustic items like deer antlers. For this shoot, I added in a reflective disco ball which can carry the design from Christmas to New Year’s Eve.

Dine in Style
To create the dining area, I first found the dining table and tree at Eco Chic Home, then added some color with rustic wood chairs from O’Day Cache. On the tabletop, I strayed away from traditional holiday colors, yet still kept the look festive with floral from Love Always Floral and gorgeous place settings from McNeal & Friends.

Entertaining but Indecisive?
Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes, so whether you’re working with a designer like myself or a place that rents furnishings, make sure to keep an open mind. Bring a picture and The White House Co. can quickly help you choose from hundreds of rental options and colors. A consult with a designer in your home can help you to see outside of the traditional ideas of holiday decor and seamlessly fuse it with your existing style and furnishings.

Dress to Impress

Once I’d set the stage, our models had to be equally adorned, courtesy of two fantastic boutiques in Downtown Fargo. To dress the ladies, Myranda Ingram, Sydney Fritz and Cassandra Colling, we visited my friend Teresa O’Day at Proper & Prim and they were quickly outfitted in glitz, glam and fun materials that played into our vintage-mod vibe. Our lone male model, Atati Mita was dressed in clothing from Others.

Shop the Look

Sequined romper – $88, Proper & Prim

Black sequin dress – $84, Proper & Prim

Maroon glimmer dress – $60, Proper & Prim

Men’s dress shirt – $48, Others

Find the Finishes

Art – $2,200, Jessica Wachter

Dining table – $915, Eco Chic Home

Tree – $299, Eco Chic Home

Dining chairs – $65, O’Day Cache

Sofa rental – $100 daily, The White House Co.

Books – $3 each, The White House Co.

Place setting & stemware – $562, McNeal & Friends

Pillows – $29, The White House Co.

Sisal Rug – $279, Wayfair
Blue side chairs – $258 at Target/ Also available for rent at The White House Co.

Floral – $149, Love Always Floral

Roses grown/sourced from – Alexandra Farms
(Find them at Alexandrafarms.com & on Instagram at alexandrafarms)
Fun fact: Alexandra Farms specializes in boutique roses and grow over 60 different types!


Gift the Host
During the holidays, parties are plentiful, so make sure you’re prepared to pamper the host. Here are two fun gift ideas that will spark conversation and spice up the festivities.

Hot Ruby
Hot Ruby was created in 1950 in the kitchen of Ruby Faye in Mabelle, Texas. Faye’s cranberry cider recipe, infused with cinnamon and clove, was famous among friends and family and always served up simmering hot. For family-friendly functions, try it with sparkling water, ginger ale or club soda. If you prefer spicy and spiked, there are endless ways to serve it up cold with champagne, tequila or ginger beer or make it hot the way Faye intended with vodka, spiced whiskey or bourbon.

Get the full story and list of recipes at DrinkHotRuby.com.

Where to Buy in Fargo-Moorhead:
Shotwell Floral & Greenhouses
4000 40th Street South, Fargo

BĒT Vodka 

In 2016, BĒT (pronounced ‘beet’) VODKA came to life in Minneapolis. From generations of Midwest family farmers to the cooperative where the harvest is gathered, BĒT distills the bounty of sugar beets from the Red River Valley, down to its simplest and purest essence. The result is a sophisticated premium-pour meant be sipped and savored — unlike traditional vodka. Similar to Midwestern culture, BĒT is served best alongside good company. BĒT Vodka comes in mini bottles and 750 ml. bottles.

Check out their full story at betvodka.com.

Where to Buy in Fargo-Moorhead: 

Royal Liquors | Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop | Bottle Barn

Crown Liquors | 99 Bottles

For more information, contact:
Trever Hill Design

No Comments on Style & Stage Through New Year’s Day [Trever Hill Design]

A Very Vintage Christmas

Story by Tracy Nicholson with The White House Co. Photography by The White House Co. When winter’s in the air and tinsel’s on the town, it’s time to spruce up…

Story by Tracy Nicholson with The White House Co.
Photography by The White House Co.

When winter’s in the air and tinsel’s on the town, it’s time to spruce up your tree and everything else around. Ask Santa for a little help and wait till Christmas day…or take your sleigh downtown now, and see what The White House Co. elves have on display. With an eclectic mix of vintage and modern goodies, these holiday collages will inspire hot cocoa and fuzzy footies. Katie Schiltz, Samantha Klinkhammer and Amanda Rydell – they’re the brains behind the design, so if you want to replicate their wintry scenes, they said, “It’s more than fine.” Go ahead, deck the kitchen, family room and hall, and don’t forget…find festive presents for all!

Ho ho ho, Santa baby! An easy way to add red into your Christmas décor without going overboard. Just looking at this jolly little fella can put a smile on anyone’s face. Popular vintage styles like this retro Santa can be found inside The White House Co.

Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. Not every bulb has to be shiny and bright.  Add these little creatures to your décor for a playful setting that everyone is sure to fall in love with.

“At Christmas, all roads lead to home.” – Marjorie Holmes.
Cozy, winter scene paint by numbers is a sure way to add that wintry touch without bringing the snow inside. It’s an easy way to mix your vintage collection in with your modern-day ornaments.

Conversation starters…whimsical décor outside of the norm creates a focal point leaving your guests with something to talk about. Who doesn’t need an eye ornament for their Christmas tree?

Tinsel, shiny lights, bottle brush trees, darling little deer and chubby rosy-cheeked Santas…oh my! These are a few of our favorite things.

Ornaments plus more ornaments…you can never have too many. Every ornament holds a story and memory, creating that family tradition where everyone has their favorites to hang on the tree. Mixing vintage and modern, you can never go wrong. {$2-$12 at The White House Co.}

From butterflies to shiny bulbs, anything can serve as a decoration for the tree. Being creative and thinking outside the box is one of our favorite secrets for designing the perfect tree.

Garland plays the role of a rug and creates the whole theme of the tree. Layers are the key and don’t be afraid to mix and match. After all, Christmas comes but once a year. Go big or go home, we say!

Merry Junking!

xo The White House Girls

For more information, contact:
The White House Co. | Shop + Vintage Rentals

Retail Location:

14 Roberts Street North, Fargo |  Open Thursday – Saturday 10 A.M – 6 P.M.

Warehouse Location:
910 Main Ave, Fargo | Open by Appointment

No Comments on A Very Vintage Christmas

Chocolate Coffee Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Frosting

Story by Katie Sullivan, Pretty Domesticated Photography by Micah J. Zimmerman16 I don’t know about you, but when the holiday’s roll around, I survive on two things to get me…

Story by Katie Sullivan, Pretty Domesticated
Photography by Micah J. Zimmerman16

I don’t know about you, but when the holiday’s roll around, I survive on two things to get me through decking the halls, wrapping gifts and hosting my family; it’s coffee and sugar. But, I’m a mom and that means I’m all about efficiency. Enter my holiday cake, where I’ve combined my two great loves (other than my family, of course). This cake is sure to impress your guests. One: everyone makes holiday cookies, but does everyone make a holiday cake? I think not. Two: it sounds fancy. Throw in words like mascarpone, espresso and naked cake, and people might even think you went to culinary school, when really, you’re whipping up a pretty basic chocolate cake. You may even impress your mother-in-law, but let’s not get carried away. I’m not a miracle worker, I just know a good cake when I taste one.

Chocolate Coffee Cake

3 c. all-purpose flour

3 c. granulated sugar

1 ½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbs. baking soda

1 ¾ tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp. kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 ½ c. buttermilk

½ c. canola oil

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 ½ c. hot coffee

Whipped Mascarpone Frosting

2 c. heavy cream, cold

2 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of kosher salt

16 oz. mascarpone cheese, chilled (two 8 oz. containers)

Sugared Cranberries

½ c. water

¾ c. granulated sugar, divided

1 c. cranberries

(save room for one missing pic – side table full of ingredients)


To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 °. Grease and line the bottom of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt on a low speed until well combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, canola oil, vanilla and hot coffee, and beat on a medium speed until smooth.

Divide batter evenly among the three pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes, and then turn cakes onto a cooling rack.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, combine heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the cream holds a soft peak. Add the mascarpone cheese and whip until blended.

To make the cranberries: In a small pot, whisk water and ½ c. of sugar to combine. Bring to a simmer and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in cranberries until they are well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a baking sheet and let dry for at least 1 hour. Roll cranberries in remaining sugar until well coated. Let dry for a least 1 hour.

To assemble: Once cakes are fully cooled, level them and stack with a generous amount of frosting between each layer. Lightly frost the entire cake. Decorate with cranberries as desired.

This cake and hot cocoa are a match made in holiday heaven. I like to dress up store bought cocoa with a drop of peppermint oil and some homemade whip cream. To make whip cream, use an electric mixer to beat 1 c. heavy cream, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 2 tbs. granulated sugar until fluffy. 

environmental pics to use: #2, 7, 9, 17,  18(#1 – photo caption of family)
Katie Sullivan resides in West Fargo, N.D., with her husband Daren and their two children, Eva and Kristian.


Florals – Love Always Floral

Holiday & select kitchen decor – Eco Chic Home

Art – The Atelier Collection


Keep up with Katie and her family at prettydomesticated.com

Instagram: @PrettyDomesticated

Facebook: Pretty Domesticated

Pinterest: KtMSullivan

No Comments on Chocolate Coffee Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Frosting

All Things Merry at Rocking Horse Farm [Design by Julie Alin & Steve Johnson, SCHEELS Home & Hardware]

Story by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography23   Part two of our walk through the 32nd Annual Homes for the Holidays tour takes us to the home of…

Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography23
Part two of our walk through the 32nd Annual Homes for the Holidays tour takes us to the home of Lauren and Alex White, in Fargo’s Rocking Horse Farm development. Since design consultants, Julie Alin and Steve Johnson of SCHEELS Home & Hardware had already worked with the Whites to choose the home’s furnishings, they joyfully volunteered their time and the store’s decor to deck the halls for Christmas and a great cause.

Welcoming the White Family to Fargo
When the Whites transferred to Fargo for their careers and left their furniture behind, they recruited the help of Alin and Johnson of SCHEELS Home & Hardware, to furnish every square-inch of their stunning home, built by T&S Custom Homes. Alin and Johnson have donated their time and talents to many homes throughout the tour, all of which were previous design clients. The Whites graciously agreed to donate their home for the tour, and the designing duo was thrilled to once again collaborate with their clients that they now call friends. Sadly, this will mark one of Alin’s last professional design projects as she is soon retiring after 24 years with SCHEELS Home & Hardware.

“It’s been awesome, I love working with Julie and Steve,” said Lauren White. “When they first came in a year ago, they did our whole house; now I consider them great friends. They are amazing at what they do.”

Making All Things Merry!
For the home’s holiday design, Alin and Johnson first met with Lauren White to discuss her color preferences. Even though the tour is catered to tour-goers, they also wanted to make sure they chose decor that would fit her preference and personal style. After the Whites had decided on a classic red and green holiday, the duo spent nearly three days assembling the decor for each of the main floor rooms. The family brought in their own 12-foot tree in the great room and Alin and Johnson got to work, hauling in holiday cheer. To fill the 2,200 square-foot main level, they would need a 17-foot cube truck and two carloads, filled to the brim with Christmas decor.

“Since the Whites chose reds and greens, which tend to be more traditional, we brought in a few more contemporary items for contrast,” said Johnson. “Even though the home has more of an open concept, with the dining room, kitchen and family room sharing the same space, we chose a coordinating, but slightly different flavor for each. The dining room is full of sparkling glitz and glam with silver and metallic accents. We kept the pops of red mainly in the kitchen and a small amount in the family room. In the master bedroom, we chose a metallic and vintage look with a pale blue and green in the ornaments.”

Vintage in the Kitchen
In the kitchen, Alin and Johnson found the perfect recipe for rustic chic, inspired by the cabinetry’s more traditional detailing. “SCHEELS Home & Hardware has an entire department of Christmas decor and we wanted to showcase as much as possible,” said Alin. “Many of the pieces were purchased at market and made up, as is, so we did a lot of layering so we could more easily create that farmhouse vintage look.”

Oh, Christmas Tree!
For the tree that would be the transition between each of the styles, Alin and Johnson chose a dash of glam to complement the rustic metals, wood tones and pops of classic red. “The birch ribbon adds a great texture, but it also lends a woodsy look while pairing it with our galvanized ornaments and adding contrast with some of Lauren’s Mercury glass ornaments,” said Johnson. “It’s nice to have the rustic base, but then have that glint of finer ornaments.” For a finished look, Alin and Johnson also added in branch sprays and red Mercury bulbs in two different sizes to give the room a hint of color.

To spruce of the family room, Alin and Johnson adorned the furnishings (all from SCHEELS Home & Hardware) with warm and cozy textures like Mongolian sheep wool, faux furs and soft, cable-knit throws.


Tips & Tricks for a Designer Christmas
[Julie Alin & Steve Johnson]

1. Design in threes. When it comes to holiday tablescape vignettes and layering, Alin suggests working in threes and making sure to allow for a high, medium and low height in items. Creating those peaks and valleys helps add interest and depth to your design.

2. Create easy, walk-by whimsy.  Alin and Johnson add simple garland and sprays to everyday items like wall sconces, mirrors, door knobs, coat hooks and stair railings. “We love long garland because it can easily wrap around things like chandelier chains and then we can spruce it up with bulbs, floral, sprays, twigs or lights,” said Alin. “One of our biggest tricks of the trade is using long pipe cleaners; they’re soft, they bend easy and they don’t scratch your wood banisters or metal decor. We can pull a whole house together for Christmas with one bag of pipe cleaners.”

3. Brighten up dull displays. Complete your design and vignettes with candles, faux candles or mini LED light strings to create a warm glow. “Now you can add lights, where you couldn’t in the past,” said Johnson. “Sometimes the bulky cord of traditional string lights can ruin a look, so I love how the fine wire of the seed LED lights work so well in table arrangements – the wire itself looks like part of the design.”

4. Let the home’s craftsmanship inspire the design. In the kitchen, Alin and Johnson took note of the more traditional details like the cabinetry’s braiding and moldings to inspire the surrounding design. “The exterior has a modern farmhouse look, while the interior is more of classic, cottage-style with a twist of traditional,” said Alin. “To make this design work, we brought in a lot of things that looked like they had been collected over time, such as vintage or flea market-style finds.”

5. Go big and unbreakable. Where glass ornaments were once the only option, they have since been replaced with plastic that looks identical to glass. This allows the duo to display larger sizes without adding unneeded weight. “With bigger trees, you really do need bigger ornaments,” said Alin. “On a tree this size, it’s nice to have a mixture of small, medium and large.”

6. Transform everyday elements. Since the home already had a base of farmhouse decor, Alin and Johnson used some of the on-site items like herbs and ferns, which could easily transition to holiday decor. “We pull a lot of everyday merchandise before we even start installing the holiday decor,” said Alin. “We typically gather as many big urns, pots, tins, buckets and baskets as we can.”

7. Find your Christmas contrast. If you’re taking a rustic farmhouse approach, Alin and Johnson suggest using a variance of textures for high-contrast holiday design. Where they’ve used duller finishes like birch, galvanized metal or rustic woods, they’ve also used hints of shimmering metals, Mercury glass or sparkle.

8. Appeal to seasonal senses. Once you’ve brightened up the space with string lights, LEDs or candles, Alin suggests finishing the ambiance with Christmas music and holiday aromas to match the decor. One of her go-to scents for this time of year is Scentsy’s Fresh Cut Christmas Tree, which can also be found at SCHEELS Home & Hardware.


For more information, contact:
Homes for the Holidays
Facebook at fmhomesfortheholidays

SCHEELS Home & Hardware
Design Consultants: Julie Alin & Steve Johnson
3202 13th Avenue South, Fargo

No Comments on All Things Merry at Rocking Horse Farm [Design by Julie Alin & Steve Johnson, SCHEELS Home & Hardware]

From the Mountains to the Midwest [Basement Remodel with studioBARRED architecture & interiors]

Story by Reyna Bergstrom 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…

Story by Reyna Bergstrom
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

Travel-Inspired Retreat

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

No Comments on From the Mountains to the Midwest [Basement Remodel with studioBARRED architecture & interiors]

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search