Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

Culture, Entertaining, and Home Design

Category: Architecture

The Pines: Weddings & Events [Q&A with founders, Grain Designs]

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by M. Schleif Photography, renderings by Grain Designs, Transparent venue image by Exposure Creative Group This September’s bound to be an epic month for the…

Words by Tracy Nicholson

Photography by M. Schleif Photography, renderings by Grain Designs, Transparent venue image by Exposure Creative Group

This September’s bound to be an epic month for the guys of Grain Designs (this is their version of a pre-celebration…). Not only is it their milestone, five-year anniversary, it’s also the month they plan to launch their newest, and possibly biggest, venture to date. We’ve loved watching their business grow – first adding a shop in the country, a studio in South Fargo and a new storefront in the Shoppes at BLU Water Creek, but we’re willing to bet the farm that everyone will be falling in love with their latest project. They recently acquired 17 acres of land surrounding their rural Davenport shop – this included the property’s existing home, pool, shops and grain silos. To fully utilize the land, Grain Designs decided to marry their woodworking talents and share the country plot they’d come to love. Midwest Nest is proud to unveil the future plans for the new Grain Designs destination, The Pines: Weddings & Events!

With “The Pines” plans firmly in place and scheduled for their first wedding in the fall, the guys of Grains Designs gave us a quick tour of the grassy plot where the new venue is set to be built. Working with Rhet Architecture and Taylor Belk of Epic Homes, the team has designed an impressive venue with equally impressive amenities and country views. Whether you’re recently engaged or part of a corporate team in need of a break from the city, this will be an event destination offering an experience unlike all others.

With an ambitious vision and a hard opening date set for September, their first wedding is already in the books for team member Pat Bresnahan and his fiance, Nicolette Berge. The venue will be fully-functioning and the house will be renovated with a bridal party suite, bride and groom master suite and much more. Guests who book a wedding or event here will get full run of the farm, including the property’s guest house and in-ground pool.

In the Works…Silo Suites

Once the venue and house are completed, Grain Designs will move onto phase two, repurposing the grain silos into hotel rooms and suites for guests who want the full-on farm experience.

To find out more about the venue’s future plans, we took a tour around the farm with Grain Design’s team members, Grant Koenig, Blain Mikkonen, Phil Bruckbauer and Pat Bresnahan.

Exposure Creative Group

 Q&A with Grain Designs: The Pines

1. Where is The Pines located?

Grant – Technically, our address is Davenport, but we are just five miles west of Horace and about 10 miles southwest of Fargo.

2. Why did you decide to build a wedding venue and event center?

Grant – When the property became available we realized it was too much for us to take on just as Grain Designs, however, we didn’t want to leave. We loved being out here and the experience that it’s provided for us and we decided that we wanted to share that with other people. There are endless opportunities for what we can do with this property.

Blain – This property allows us to do what we love on a whole new level. We get to create a really interesting gathering space and experience that I think people are going to appreciate and want to be part of.

3. When do you plan to get started and who is managing the construction?

Blain – We will break ground this week and our goal for concrete is early June. We are working with Taylor Belk of Epic Homes to complete the new building. We’re also working with Rhet Fiskness of Rhet Architecture – he executed the construction documents for the official, stamped drawings. Then Grant and I created the 3-D model based on Rhet’s floor plan and completed the renderings. We were originally planning on using the existing building on the property for the event center, but structurally it just wasn’t feasible. Instead, we decided to build new on the open grass site to the east of our Grain Designs shop.

4. What will you be offering guests at the new venue?

Grant – The building is designed to be almost 9,000 square-feet and will accommodate 350 plus for a seated dinner. The design inside will be a very clean and classic white with black detailing and rustic, reclaimed wood elements. Within the venue, we will have a prep kitchen for the caterers, full bar set-up, outdoor patio and private men and women’s restrooms. We will also be building all of the farmhouse tables for the venue in addition to sliding barn doors, the bar and various features throughout the space.

Phil – We will have capabilities to accommodate outdoor ceremonies, with the space to move indoors in inclement weather. When you rent the property for the weekend, the house and pool will be offered as part of the package. We are also looking into different transportation options and hotel partnerships so that we can provide safe travels and additional lodging for large events.

Blain – Right now, we are actively exploring partnerships with various vendors such as Chef’s Table Catering for food service and The White House Co. for event staging. The Pines will have its own liquor license and there will be at least one or two mobile bars on the property and hosted bar options. We are not limiting the venue to weddings, we can also accommodate corporate events using the indoor and outdoor spaces. It will be a really multi-functional building.

5. When will The Pines be ready and how do we book an event?

Grant – The venue will be ready by mid-September. We will do pre-booking as of June 1st for winter events as well as spring and summer 2019 weddings. Right now, the best way to inquire about using The Pines for your future event is to use the “CONTACT” link on our website: ThePinesVenue.com. We want people to be able to use any or all of the property, so we encourage people to ask about any type of scenario from booking just the lawn or pool area, to the entire venue.

6. What will the existing house offer to your venue guests?

Grant – The house has an in-ground pool, patio, full kitchen, formal living room and will soon have a game room and four bedrooms with three baths. We are in the process of renovating each of the rooms to eventually sleep a total of eight to 10 guests. The house will primarily serve as the bridal suite to help you prepare for your big day, but is also available to rent for overnight stays as part of the full weekend experience.

7. What kind of renovations will you be doing on the house? 

Grant – We’ll be taking two rooms upstairs, combining them and adding french doors to create a bridal suite where the bridal party can get ready together. We will also be designing a larger master suite for the bride and groom. The kitchen was updated by the previous owner about four-years ago, so that will be one space that won’t need many renovations. The house is in great shape, so most of what we are doing is just cosmetic upgrades. Of course, we’ll have as much Grain Designs furniture in the house as possible.

Phil – On the exterior, we will be repainting, then updating the deck, pool and patios. Pat and his fiance, Nicolette, are currently living in the home and will be working on the renovations throughout the summer, so the main areas are planned to be completed by fall.

Pat – In the family room, we will be updating the flooring and trim, then painting the brick and designing our own reclaimed wood mantle. In the basement, we will be doing a hang-out area and game room for the groomsmen. We’re planning to put a ping-pong table, couches and TV down there as well.

8. What types of packages will The Pines offer?

Blain – There will be a few different packages; you can rent the property for the day or book the whole weekend experience with the house and pool. With the weekend wedding package, people will be able to host the groom’s dinner on Friday, ceremony on Saturday, then the gift opening and brunch on Sunday.

9. How did you come across this property in the country? 

Grant – Almost three years ago, we built a couple of pieces for a client in the lakes area and her friend was the owner of the farm at the time. She was there during this install and she happened to be my fourth-grade teacher. After the passing of her husband, she told us that she no longer had a use for the property’s shops. She mentioned that if we ever needed a place to work we should get in touch with her. Phil was also friends with her daughter from Shanley High School, so he was familiar with the land.

10. Will you be keeping your 52nd Avenue Studio open as well? 

Blain – Yes, we still have the South Fargo studio and our new store in Shoppes at BLU Water Creek is opening this month next to Eco Chic Home’s new storefront. The 52nd Avenue Studio will be a “behind the scenes” location serving as overflow storage for the new store.


Follow their Progress!

As Grain Designs completes the build and puts the finishing touches on The Pines, Midwest Nest will be following along to give our readers exclusive sneak peeks leading up to the final unveiling. Get ready as we reveal the before and afters and offer readers a glimpse inside their first wedding, this fall!

For more information, contact: 

Grain Designs





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A Hygge Home

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography If the word “hygge” encompasses the art of living a cozy life, then Benjamin Custom Homes has mastered it. While scanning…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

If the word “hygge” encompasses the art of living a cozy life, then Benjamin Custom Homes has mastered it. While scanning social media, we caught a glimpse of their recently featured parade home in the Golden Valley neighborhood and couldn’t wait to see more. To get the full tour, we met up with Ben and Melanie Anderson of Benjamin Custom Homes at their South Fargo stunner. Inside, we found an eclectic mix of creative design elements, custom furniture, and a style of cabinetry that will make you swap your handles and hardware for Scandinavian simplicity.At 1,715 square feet, the home’s open concept and main-level living is the epitome of modern-day hygge. Creating cozy, eclectic vibes around every corner, the home has just enough space and ceiling height to promise both ample entertaining space and intimate home life. The main level boasts two guest bedrooms and a master suite while the unfinished basement is ready for two future bedrooms, bathroom and family room.

A contemporary exterior at first glance, this Benjamin Custom Home features a mix of sleek lines infused with rich iron-grey James Hardie cement-board siding and warm, wood textures. To find the perfect house number and planter, Melanie Anderson searched Etsy, coming across this handmade planter with magnetic numbers by Urban Mettle.

Scandinavian Curb Appeal
“Adam (LaPlante) drew up this layout then I focused on finding a way to modify it and make it different,” said Anderson. “I added the bump-out in the front and had it framed in for more of a Scandinavian feel, adding a mix of textures on the exterior. I wanted to contrast the natural features as well as the more modern features. Ben (Anderson) is Scandinavian and I  love that type of design, so I really wanted to give it a try and play with the style a bit. It’s just something that we haven’t seen much around here at all.”


The living room features an open layout with trayed ceilings in a reclaimed, white-washed wood and contemporary fireplace surround. Creating the room’s nature-inspired focal point is a vertically stacked log feature. Anderson utilized a warm mix of leather side chairs, cowhide rug and black sofa from The White House Co.’s vintage collection. For a Scandinavian flair, Anderson incorporated a custom-designed Finnu chair with striking green upholstery and mid-century modern angles.

Above the fireplace, Benjamin Custom Homes proudly displays a bible verse they’ve come to live and work by; “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain,” Psalm 127:1 of Solomon.

The Heart of a Hygge Home
Lead designer, Melanie Anderson worked with Pacc Woodworks to design the European-styled kitchen cabinetry in stained maple to coordinate with the flooring. This unique design adopts a sleek and functional approach, leaving no need for the typical door and drawer hardware.

Carrying over the simplistic design to the surrounding elements, Anderson chose a waterfall-edge, quartz island with maple inset and Rejuvenation pendants overhead. Adding their signature character, Anderson chose schoolhouse-style island stools from The White House Co.

A charming focal point in the kitchen, Anderson designed reclaimed wood, open shelving to serve as functional storage and symmetrical shelving for decor and greenery.

Adding depth and embracing rich tones, Anderson chose a Raw Iron paint by Benjamin Moore for the pantry and adjacent, reclaimed barn door near the dining room. This color was carried throughout the home’s additional doors and linen closets.

Master Suite

The home’s master bath features a continuance of the European-styled cabinetry with a double wall-hung vanity. Quartz countertops and chrome fixtures create timeless appeal leading to the glass-enclosed shower and massive walk-in closet.


Find the Finishes:
Builder – Benjamin Custom Homes
Drafter – Adam LaPlante
Project Manager – Kara Skarphol
Staging – Melanie Anderson
Flooring – Carpet World
Master bedroom and mudroom lighting – Etsy
Cabinetry – Pacc Woodworks
Kitchen pendant lighting – Rejuvenation
Sink lighting – Rejuvenation
Faucet and fixtures – Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
Appliances – Rigel’s
Island stools and dining chairs- The White House Co.
Living room, leather chairs, sofa and cowhide rug – The White House Co.
Fireplace – Hebron Brick
Dining table lighting – Menards
Floral – Love Always Floral
Dining room rug – Eco Chic Home
Master and mudroom lighting – Etsy
Mudroom hooks – Schoolhouse Electric Company
Reclaimed wood slab bench – designed by Melanie Anderson, Kara Skarphol, Adam LaPlante with wood sourced from Dakota Timber Company
Custom, oversized, hairpin leg dining table – Finnu
Custom living room chair – Finnu
Reclaimed barn door – sourced from Fergus Falls
Door paint – Raw Iron by Benjamin Moore
Siding – James Hardie
House number planter – Urban Mettle, Etsy

Find the Home!
2659 70th Ave South, Fargo

For more information, contact:
Benjamin Custom Homes
4025 4th Avenue South Suite 1, Fargo

To request a personal tour, contact:
Chase Realty – Ian Bullis, Realtor
4631 40th Ave South, Suite 150, Fargo

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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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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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Shabby Chic in Rockinghorse Farm

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Angela Ridl – Foto Art & Design, Dan Francis Photography, headshots by Gabe Haney at Haney’s Photography Homeowners, Kelly, Joe and their daughter Mia…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Angela Ridl – Foto Art & Design, Dan Francis Photography, headshots by Gabe Haney at Haney’s Photography

Homeowners, Kelly, Joe and their daughter Mia accompanied by their four-legged friends Milo (left) and Sophie.

For the Kerbers who both work in the medical field, coming home meant replacing their sterile work environment with a warmer, farmhouse-chic ambiance. Joe Kerber, a chiropractor at Strive Chiropractic and his wife Kelly, an Internal Medicine Physician at Sanford, recently completed their Krueger Construction build in the coveted Rocking Horse Farm development in South Fargo. See how this creative team was able to overrule the reigning trend of white trim and cabinets, in lieu of richer, inviting tones.

Customization & Craftsmanship
At just under 4,900 square feet, this beautiful, Krueger Construction home is fully finished, including the bonus room and lower level. Based on an existing Ana Beth two-story plan, the Kerbers worked closely with the design team at Krueger to customize the space to suit their growing family. “This floor plan, like many of our plans, was a bit of a passion project for me as I initially designed the plan for myself,” said Kimberly Krueger Tehan. “They customized the layout of the lower-level theater space and master bedroom suite, taking space from one of the upstairs guest rooms to create a larger master closet and bath. Kristi (Krueger Roscoe) our design director, worked with the Kerber family in every selection from start to finish. It’s been so fun to see the collaborative effort, both on our end of things as well as with the Kerber family, to make this house a truly custom home,” said Krueger Tehan.

“It was really fun working with the Kerbers and building this house because a lot of their personality came through in it – instead of doing what was on trend or popular at the time. They went with their gut for what they liked and it turned out gorgeous,” said design director, Kristi Krueger Roscoe.

Throughout the main level, the Kerbers chose a rustic, wood laminate flooring on multi-dimensional planks. “What we loved about this project, aside from the awesome family we got to work with, was watching the design selections come together,” said Krueger Tehan.

Main Floor

Vintage Kitchen

Feeling that the white cabinetry trend was a bit too sterile for two medical professionals, the Kerbers opted instead for an antiqued, ivory cabinetry with a shabby chic appeal. “Kelly fell in love with this antiqued ivory, so my stepfather played with some variations and she loved the Poplar version that you see here in the kitchen,” said Joe Kerber. It’s not every day that the homeowner will ask to bring in their own subcontractor, but in this case, Krueger Construction was happy to work with Joe Kerber’s stepfather, J.L. Rosewood for the custom cabinetry throughout the home.

Adding a pop of color, the Kerbers chose a colored subway tile to pair with Kelly Kerber’s favorite tone, a more vintage version of Robin’s egg blue. “We’re seeing a lot of fun takes on subway tile, especially tile with more dimension and movement in it,” said Krueger Roscoe. “They also opted for an extra-large and deep, 10-foot quartz island with farmhouse sink, giving them plenty of usable space.” To complete the kitchen’s warmer, vintage appeal, the Kerbers chose Pottery Barn glass pendants and Restoration Hardware linen chairs.


Modernized, Traditional Elements
“The adjacent built-ins were in our original plan that Kim came up with and we collectively decided to have it open and give it more of a pass-through feel which is reminiscent of a traditional dining room,” said Krueger Roscoe.

Warm vs. White
“I think sometimes doing all white can seem too sterile and cold, so I liked having that warm feeling to come home to. Also, with kids, I think a painted white can be harder to keep clean, so those are the two reasons we went with the darker stain,” said Kelly Kerber. “I’m glad we chose the antiqued white for the cabinets though, it’s still a lighter tone, so it brightens up the space.”

“We’ve seen so many versions of white, gray, greige and general cool tones over the past few years, so it was really fun to help them find more of a warm color palette with their darker wood trim package, creamy kitchen cabinet colors and warm touches in their paint, flooring, reclaimed wood accents and stone throughout their home,” said Krueger Tehan. “The pop of the cooler blue pairs beautifully with how they’ve decorated their spaces.”

Vintage Inspired
For homeowner Kelly Kerber, a love of vintage, farmhouse and antiqued furniture helped inspire the home’s finished design. “I think I’d call our style more of a shabby chic. I like things that look older, but I don’t have a lot of actual antiques. When I thought about what style we wanted, I really wanted to come home and feel cozy and comfortable,” said Kelly Kerber.

The Kerbers love to entertain, so having ample seating in the dining room was a must. Their Restoration Hardware nine-foot table expands with two additional sleeves, giving them another three feet for larger family functions. To create their signature, farmhouse decor, the Kerbers found a cut, wine barrel centerpiece and double hutch in antique ivory from Pottery Barn.

With an open concept flow from the kitchen, the family room became a major focal point with its stunning, stone fireplace and Grain Designs mantle and floating shelves. Antiqued ivory built-ins bring a more traditional warmth with modern elements like the darker toned ceiling, adding interest and depth.

The Kerbers worked with Krueger to bring character to every space of the home, including the main floor’s powder bath with reclaimed wood planks from Grain Designs.

Just off of the entry, through rustic barn doors, the Kerbers office features a Restoration Hardware bookshelf, ladder and lower filing space to serve as the focal point of their office space.

Find the Finishes:
Foyer and dining room lights – Restoration Hardware
Foyer bench – Grain Designs
Cabinetry – R.L. Rosewood
Family room sofa – Crate & Barrel



For the Kerbers, a bonus room meant being able to provide the perfect, shabby chic hang-out for their daughter Mia.


To create this stunning master suite, the Kerbers worked with Jimmy Tehan and Kristi Krueger Roscoe to alter the original layout. By simply taking space from an extra guest room, they were able to create a much larger closet and spacious master bath with added character from reclaimed wood.

Find the Finishes:
Cabinetry: J.L. Rosewood
Reclaimed wood backsplash – Dakota Timber Co.


Lower Level

A Space for Gathering
Creating the perfect gathering space, project manager, Jimmy Tehan, helped design a new layout for the lower level to accommodate the theater, wine/coffee bar, fireplace nook and guest suite.

The wine and coffee bar is accented with a farmhouse pendant, highlighting the reclaimed, wood backsplash with wood from Dakota Timber Co. Quartz countertops and a darker-stained cabinetry bring this lower level space warmth and character.

Elevating the warmth of the lower level, the Kerbers chose a craftsman style fireplace with lower built-ins and reclaimed wood hanging shelves and mantle by Grain Designs.

Find the Finishes:
Reclaimed wood, bar backsplash – Dakota Timber Co.
Cabinetry – J.L. Rosewood
Floating shelves and fireplace mantle – Grain Designs

Simplifying the Build
Throughout the building process, the Kerbers kept plenty busy raising their young daughter, both working full-time while Kelly Kerber was finishing her residency. “We’d always heard that building a house can be really stressful on a marriage, and we didn’t find that at all,” said Kelly Kerber. “They made the meetings so simple and let us chose things and there was not a lot of pressure with it. Along the way, they knew what the budget was and they were so open and honest. Everything was really transparent and I think that made the process much easier. I’m a pretty Type A person, so I would write emails and they’d have answers right away. That was so beneficial for our relationship with our personalities. I would build with them again in a heartbeat.”

From left; Kristi Krueger Roscoe, Kim Krueger Tehan and Jimmy Tehan of Krueger Construction

Krueger Family Values
When it comes to building homes, Krueger Construction likes to keep their talents in the family. Established by Greg and Bonnie Krueger, they have been family-owned and operated since 1984, with their children Kim Krueger Tehan, Kristi Krueger Roscoe, and Corey Krueger, now carrying on the tradition.

For more information, contact:
Krueger Construction, Inc. & Castle Realty
Kimberly Krueger Tehan
1133-A Harwood Drive, Fargo, N.D.

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The Cotton Lake Project – From seasonal retreat to year-round residence

Once Moorhead residents, Mariah and Jamey Jessen loved spending their summer weekends at their Cotton Lake cabin with their three children. With plans to transform their seasonal lake retreat into…

Once Moorhead residents, Mariah and Jamey Jessen loved spending their summer weekends at their Cotton Lake cabin with their three children. With plans to transform their seasonal lake retreat into a year-round lake home, they listed their Moorhead house assuming they’d have time to spare for the renovations. When the home sold immediately, they contacted architect Jan Mevold of Mevold Studio to complete the renovation of their 1940s cabin. With no less than two additions having already been done on the lake cabin, this was an architectural endeavor with jaw-dropping results.

Architectural Endeavors
Having designed a cabin for one of the Jessen’s friends, Mevold Studio came highly recommended. “I usually design about two to four cabins a year. Much of my time is spent on renovations and additions. I really enjoy doing cabins because people are open to doing something a little different,” said Mevold. “I usually meet with a client and walk through their cabin, then give my suggestions on possible issues we might have. It’s always a lot more work than what they think it will be. A lot of them will call back after a year or so later and say they are ready to start.”

With two prior additions to this seasonal lake home, Mevold had to take into account all issues with the previous copy-and-paste building approach. The original cabin was built in 1940, so Mevold had a fair share of structural issues to be aware of during the renovation. The Jessen’s had originally intended to gut the home, but foundation issues prevailed. “They needed to make sure it functioned for all four seasons and meet all of their family’s needs. It was a really long cabin, so we talked about different options to do a renovation,” explained Mevold. “The best option was actually to remove the entire middle portion of the cabin. They have a large, corner lot, but it’s like all lake cabins, that in the remodel, they could not build any closer to the lake and had to stay within the same footprint but were able to push the construction toward the back a bit.”

“We would meet every Sunday night,” explained Mevold. “It was kind of fun just to see the excitement of the house coming together. Renovating additions is always the toughest, you just don’t’ know what kind of structural challenges you might run into. There were a few of these issues as expected, but we were able to resolve them pretty smoothly.”

Family of Five vs. 660 Square-Feet
According to Mevold, homeowners are typically advised to find alternate living arrangements during a renovation of this scale, but this was a unique scenario. The Jessens were general contracting their own renovation and since just the middle portion was being removed, they were able to live in the right side addition which was around 660 square feet. For the Jessen’s family of five, two dogs and two cats, this meant utilizing a small kitchenette and finding an outside source for laundry. “We had our three kids sharing one bedroom and my oldest was in 5th grade at the time,” explained Mariah Jessen. “My daughter’s dresser was in the kitchen area and we used the top of it as the pantry. Our pipes would freeze a lot, so that was really challenging. There was definitely a few tears shed, but it turned out great. Building is hard, and I hate to say that because it’s also a privilege, but I think this is one part that we can’t help but look back and laugh at.”


Mastering the Main Floor
“The more I got to know the Jessens, I realized they loved to mix and match finishes and textures,” said Mevold. Throughout the home, both Mevold and the Jessens worked with Phil Seabloom, the project’s contractor and carpenter to give each space a unique finish.

On the main floor, the Jessens chose a heated, polished concrete flooring paired with a stunning, reclaimed wood accent wall extending up the custom designed, floating staircase. Underneath the stairwell, their contractor built a special door and place for their pets to reside in style.

“The kitchen island has some really unique curves,” said Mevold. The Jessens wanted something unique so they worked with Wendy Dynes at Wood Specialists to come up with a stunning, grand piano shape. The remaining space features underlit, wall-hung cabinetry in a rich espresso stain, custom hood range and nine-foot, drop ceilings over the dining room and kitchen area.

“Large islands are becoming a new normal. The challenge is to create an island that is functional, yet friendly. The shape of this island accomplished both, by setting up multiple areas to prepare and serve foods while still inviting guests to socialize.”
Wendy Dynes, CKD, NCIDQ, Wood Specialists

Hidden Features
“We went to Smart Spaces when it came time to design the kitchen pantry and the master closet,” said Mariah Jessen. “They were great at listening to specific challenges and preferences. In the final products, we have great function such as a place for the coffee maker in the pantry, and pull-out racks for pants and belts in the closet. They also added fun details by including handles and pulls with bling on the ‘her’ side of the closet.”

“One thing they really wanted in here was a skylight for more natural light,” said Mevold. To give this space a unique flooring finish, the Jessens reached out to Maria Bosak of Eco Chic Boutique who was able to help them find the vintage-style, black and white tile which emulates the look of a printed rug, minus the maintenance.

The Jessens are avid runners, so a functional and spacious laundry room was a must.
“In working with Wendy Dynes at Wood Specialists, we were able to come up with some customized touches that made our laundry room aesthetically appealing, but also very functional,” said Mariah Jessen. “For example, when discussing how we wished there was something we could do to get all of the drying racks for our running clothes out of the middle of the room, she grabbed one of their builders and together we came up with a way to include built-in racks that fold into the wall when not being used.”


Walking from the new middle addition of the home, Mevold created a hallway that now connects it to the original addition. This smaller addition has since been renovated to accommodate a sunroom.

Just past the sunroom, that same hallway leads to the 800 square feet that the entire family once lived in during construction. This space has now been converted into a master suite with a spacious bath and this stunning view.

Second-Level Loft

Lofty Challenges
The Jessens weren’t keen on the idea of having the open, vaulted ceiling due to concerns with noise levels. Instead of designing confining walls, Mevold was able to come to a more aesthetically pleasing solution. The second level of the home consisted of a loft area featuring a fitness room and bedrooms, so Mevold incorporated windows where the loft leads to the rooms. This kept the noise down and resulted in a fitness room with an unobstructed view of the lake.


“We are so grateful for Jan’s ability to create a home that measures up to the vision we had in our heads,” said Mariah Jessen. “This was no easy task because from the very first conception to the final product, our vision evolved. Between Jan, Phil, and all of the other individuals who were willing to share their ideas and provide solutions to various challenges, we now have the privilege of living in what we hope to be our ‘forever home’.”

Third-Floor Loft

Bonus Room with a View
One of Mevold’s challenges was to find an interior space where the Jessen’s three children could run wild and have fun. Like most lake homes, this one did not have a basement, so instead Mevold looked upward to find the solution. “The attic was a pretty big space on the third level where the kids could go watch movies and play games and music, but it’s much better than a basement – they actually have a great view to the lake,” said Mevold.

Find the Finishes:
Renovation architect – Mevold Studio
Custom floating stair and railing fabrication – Phil Seabloom
Reclaimed wood accent wall- Phil Seabloom, Wood supplied by Dakota Timber Co.
Kitchen, laundry, main floor, second-floor bath cabinetry – Wendy Dynes, CKD, NCIDQ of Wood Specialists
Built-ins, linens and master bathroom cabinetry – Phil Seabloom
Laundry tile – Maria Bosak, Eco Chic Boutique
Custom paint designs in the kid’s rooms – Homeowners
Countertops – Granites Unlimited
Bonus room flooring – Carpet World
Masonry – Tim Erb Masonry
Lighting – Borderstates Electric
Appliances – Sears
Custom-built entrance door – Great River Door Company
Polished concrete floor – Zeis Concrete Solutions
Custom, master closet and pantry design – Smart Spaces

For more information, contact:
Mevold Studio
Jan Mevold
808 3rd Ave. S. Suite 400, Fargo, N.D.

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Progressive Architecture Tour

Words by Susan Hozak-Cardinal Photography by Dan Francis Photography Leave it to the art community to create an event pairing food, wine and a tour of three amazing homes, all…

Words by Susan Hozak-Cardinal
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

Leave it to the art community to create an event pairing food, wine and a tour of three amazing homes, all in the same night. The 2nd annual Progressive Architecture Tour from Plains Art Museum took place on September 23 and walked guests through three homes of area architects and owners to share their stories and insights about the making of their dream homes.

The Crew
I, along with my husband Jason Cardinal, photographer Dan Francis and contributors Trever Hill and Jesse Masterson, were ecstatic to join a small group of 42 people touring three notable homes. It was a day and evening full of excitement, questions, and the chance to meet and mingle with the homeowners and architects. All proceeds raised from the event went to help support the PlainsArt4All initiative to keep the museum’ general admission free.

If you missed out on the tour, no need to fret. Grab yourself a snack and glass of wine and join me as we tour three homes with three different courses.

Progressive Architecture Tour: House #1
Owners | Sunny Clark and Marc Wilson
Architects | DandE Lab, Malini Srivastava and Mike Christenson
Course #1: Hors d’oeuvres | Luna, Chef Ryan Nitschke

The first home we visited was the Horizon Home in Moorhead. When we arrived, we were greeted by Sandy Thompson. Thompson is the Development Director at the Plains Art Museum, and he and his staff did a wonderful job of organizing the tour for everyone to enjoy. Thompson encouraged the crew to enjoy the hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Ryan Nitschke from Luna while touring the home. Towards the end of the hour, we would all gather together to hear from the home owners and architects.

Let the Tour Begin
Off we went. We loved the clean lines of this house. We also loved the simplicity of the home in that everything seemed to have a purpose. No space was wasted space. Yet, it was so bright and inviting too. Every room and layout of the house made more sense after hearing from the owners on their story towards the building of their energy efficient masterpiece.


Marc Wilson, Homeowner
“Like with any budget, we had to think about things that mattered to us and things that didn’t matter to us. We looked through Dwell Magazine for ideas. We knew we wanted a sheltered effect in the backyard. We knew that we didn’t care about big spaces like big bathrooms and that we did want a nice sized kitchen and living area. We also wanted to be environmentally friendly and playful at the same time.”

Owners Sunny Clark and Marc Wilson found the perfect fit with architects Malini Srivastava and Mike Christenson from Design and Energy Laboratory, LLC (DandE Lab). DandE Lab provides affordable, high-performance, energy-efficient architectural design and won the 2014 AIA North Dakota Honor Award for Residential Architecture for the work done on the Horizon House. Energy efficiency, no waste, and leaving the smallest carbon footprint were top priorities of this project.


Mike Christenson, Architect
“When we got together to talk about this project, we all just seemed to click. This was a very enjoyable project to work on and we made a lasting friendship.”

Malini Srivastava, Architect
“What was really interesting about this project was that the conversation was about having a spatial quality but not a big house. So the connotation was about how it would feel, and so the answers weren’t obvious, but we knew we would get there. Marc and Sunny had a list, and together we developed a design concept around it. They were willing to experiment and go on an adventure.”

Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency
One example of moving forward on being energy efficient, yet cost effective, is with the windows. Windows that are high performance are usually very expensive. Through the company, they were able to use rejected high performance windows that were not used in other projects because of size or color.

“My idea of being green comes from multiple things – less material, less energy, being resource conservative,” said Srivastava. “Windows can be weakest part of the equation in trying to get the home air tight. We would continually test before we finish to make sure the house was as air tight as we wanted it to be before moving forward.”

“Travis (VanDoren) was an amazing builder. We can’t even tell when the wind blows,” said Clark. “We look outside and see the trees moving but everything inside is so quiet.”

Clark also explained how they purposely decided not to put an air conditioner in the home. They experimented on how to keep house cool in summertime by opening windows at night, letting fresh air in, and shutting it down during the day. There is radiant heat as well – no ducts, no forced air. This was one of many aspects where Clark and Wilson had to juggle with priorities. Another was with the size of their master bath. They didn’t feel like they needed a large master bath in comparison to having a larger kitchen and living area, where most of their daily family activities happen. They were also able to cut down on costs by doing some of the finishing work themselves, such as making the cabinets and the doors.

The Ever-Changing Process
Although Srivastava jokes about how slow the designing process took in order to get to where everyone wanted to be, Clark and Wilson didn’t think that at all. In fact, they felt like it was Christmas every time they got to meet with Srivastava and Christenson to make decisions on each phase.

“Marc and Sunny were as much of design process as we were. We did drawings as multiple options as a way to figure out where we are going,” said Srivastava.”As architects, we do work that lasts a long time. It’s easy to make mistakes and hard to know when it’s right so we have to take time to use models and drawings as a way of having conversations with the homeowners.”

Progressive Architecture Tour: House #2
Owners | Sarah and Chris Hawley
Architect | Chris Hawley Architects
Course #2: Salad | Mosaic Foods, Chef Eric Watson

The second home on tour was Casa Hawley, home to Chris and Sarah Hawley. When we arrived at the home, Thompson explained to us that he and Chris Hawley worked together on creating this tour for the Plains Art Museum and will be teaming up for future tours. At Casa Hawley, the group enjoyed a salad by Chef Eric Watson from Mosaic Foods, and roamed around once more, taking in the thoughtful architecture, art and home.

Architect and Homeowner
This home was unique to the others on tour because Chris Hawley was both the architects and homeowner. Hawley explained that his wife and family were living in an 880 square-foot house and thought, enough was enough, they needed a bigger space. They thought about building a new home but that changed when Chris Hawley noticed an “ugly house” for sale that was built in 1968.

Chris Hawley, Architect & Homeowner
“That has got to be the ugliest house. Who would be dumb enough to buy it? These were my first thoughts. But during the second weekend of looking at the house, I told my friend, you know what, there is something there. The neighborhood is right, the space if right, and there is something about the quality of the construction.”

Sarah Hawley, Homeowner
“Chris did a sketch within an hour. He has such a vision and I tend to trust him with most things. When he showed me the sketch, I loved it. I love modern and that is definitely our style. As soon as I saw that sketch, I knew that he could pull it off.”

And the adventure begins…

During the Q & A with Chris and Sarah Hawley, we learned about some challenges they faced during the remodel and what steered them towards certain aspects of the home. Chris Hawley said that one thing they went back and forth on was the kitchen. They were deciding if the kitchen would just be opened up partially, but decided to make it big and open, warm and entertaining. “The kitchen island made sense for us and how we live,” explained Chris Hawley. ” If we need formal dining, we use the screen porch for that. We live on the end of this table. We live very informally.”


And then there was a water mishap when it rained during the process of changing the roof. “It became challenging for the family. Yes, it was stressful with the flooding, but we made the most of it. What can you do? I said, let’s play ping pong. I’m a pretty good sport,”laughed Sarah Hawley.


Reflection of Us
Even with the challenges involved, the finished product of Phase One was a success. You can still see some of the original parts of the house with the pink and avocado bathrooms. So far, the house has a very polished and modern look, but the basement, Phase Two, will have a dramatically different look. It will be more industrial with exposed concrete and a family game room. But like the home above, it will be a reflection of Chris and Sarah Hawley and their family.

Chris Hawley, Architect & Homeowner:
” I’m a minimalist and like reusing things. The table is from wood from an old restaurant in Minot and with repurposed spikes from that project as well. This house is a reflection of us. There is art from my brother or friends, each with personal stories that are near and dear to us.”


Progressive Architecture Tour: House #3

Owners | Rondi and Keith McGovern | Fargo
Architect | Chris Hawley Architects/Interior Remodel
Entree | VIP Room, Chef Anthony Bachman
Dessert | Nichole’s Fine Pastry, Pastry Chef Nichole Hensen

The final home on the tour was what Fargoan’s refer to as, The Fargo Laundry Building, home to Rondi and Keith McGovern. When we arrived, we divided into two tour groups. My group went with Keith McGovern and the other group with Rondi McGovern and Chris Hawley. Keith McGovern assured us we were in the group that would get a thorough run down of the place and he was right. There was just so many fascinating and story-filled parts to this home that I am going to have to just share a few with you.

Wait…what? A Laundry Building?

Keith explained to us that after going through three floods, he wanted to move somewhere where he didn’t have to worry about that again. So while he and his realtor were hard at work looking for a house, Keith McGovern suddenly came across an old laundry building for sale. He immediately called up his realtor, Dave Noah, and said, “I can fix anything. Call those guys, I want to buy that building.”

Our tour started in the large garage/shop portion of the building, the same area that Keith McGovern had first looked at as well. “When I walked into this room, I decided that I wanted to buy this building,” Keith McGovern said. We were now in the original room where Leef Cleaners received laundry in 2,000-pound totes. This place use to have washing machines, all sorts of pipes, with lint and soap scum everywhere. This all required a massive cleanup but has now transformed beautifully into a shop, and garage complete with a mudroom and gear room.


Keith McGovern, Homeowner:
“I have to give credit to our governor, Doug Burgum. When he came over and I told him my plan, he said, if you are really going to do this, you need to call this guy, he’s an architect. His name is Chris Hawley.”

Chris Hawley, Architect:
“Keith gave me a call Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. and wanted to see some drawings the next day. After seeing the first sketch, I had until Friday and stayed up all night Thursday and those are the two drawings I came up with, and what is cool about it is that it didn’t change much.”

From Drawing to Reality

“I can’t stand CAD and I let Chris know that,” said Keith McGovern. “Chris is an amazing artist so he drew everything for me. We ended up with these drawings and then the building itself.”

The Basement
The laundry building use to be its own self-contained building in 1923. It had its own water treatment, power plant, and fire system. In the east wall, a train would drop off coal which would then be shoveled into a huge boiler. The McGovern’s transformed this basement area into a gym which they now refer to as “The Pit”.

The Pit
“This is the cross-fit gym where the kids work out, and this is the normal gym or Rondi’s gym,” said Keith McGovern. “Her gym area used to be offices for Leef Cleaners.”

Grand Staircase
The staircase was hard to get approved because there are no legs and Keith wanted to be historically correct. The staircase actually bolts together and they assembled it on-site.

Indoor/Outdoor Patio Magic
Keith McGovern led us into a brick room and surprised the crowd with what would undoubtedly be one of the most unique rooms in the city. He explained that he wanted an indoor patio that was essentially, outdoors. A moment later, concrete blocks started to move and a rustic garage door opened to reveal a heated, indoor, swim spa. This area was originally the site where trucks backed up to doors that were operated by heavy, concrete blocks. To preserve the history of the building, Keith McGovern kept the original doors and replicated the massive, concrete counterweights.

Happily Ever After
During the Q&A portion after dinner, we found out that Keith and Rondi McGovern were once prom king and queen. With such an extensive project, the touring crowd wondered if there were any design battles between the “royal court”, and also what it was about Fargo that made them want to keep their roots firmly planted.

“Rondi’s family brought us here and the wonderful people of Fargo kept us here,” said Keith McGovern. “We were really in sync in how Rondi and I functioned on this project. For the structural and mechanical areas, Chris and I worked together. Certain rooms were Rondi’s so I had no say in those,” he joked. “Rondi did save the day by telling me not to frost the windows in the bar area. That would have made a big difference if we did and you couldn’t see outside. Rondi was with me the whole way, and with Chris’s hard work, we were able to pull this all together.”

The Tour Concludes
Through the Progressive Architecture Tour, organized by the Plains Art Museum, we were able to see three incredible homes in different stages of development and thought-process. What most people can only imagine from the street, this tour group, comprised of architectural admirers and dreamers, got an up-close and personal glimpse inside their doors and greatest design ambitions. Although each home and family revealed a different lifestyle, they all shared one commonality. Amidst an array of challenges, they had a vision and a dream to create a space that felt like their version of home.

With Gratitude
To all of the homeowners and architects, thank you for sharing your story, your personal space and your unique vision. To the chef’s who created each sumptuous course along the way, thank you for sharing your talents.

For more information about the Progressive Architecture Tour, contact:
Plains Art Museum
Sandy Thompson, Director of Development
704 First Avenue North, Fargo, N.D.

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Lost River Treasure

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Family photo by Mandey Marie Photography Just over the Horace bridge to the west of the Sheyenne River, is 220 acres…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Family photo by Mandey Marie Photography

Just over the Horace bridge to the west of the Sheyenne River, is 220 acres of land that has been treasured by the Samuelson family for six generations. Nestled on the riverbank, the Samuelson’s 1889 homestead is part of the landscape that includes an abandoned river bed which is nothing short of postcard perfection. Jack and Rachel (Samuelson) Dwyer moved into the original homestead in 2009 after purchasing the home and part of the land from Rachel Dwyer’s grandmother, Sherry Samuelson. Like many family members before them, the Dwyers and their four kids eventually outgrew the home. Wanting to ensure the family’s legacy for years to come, the Samuelson family and the Dwyer family came up with a plan to keep the land in the family and also build the dream home their growing family desired.

Lost River Development Abundant trees and river views are just a couple of the reasons why the Samuelson family held tight to this coveted land. When Sherry Samuelson considered selling the land in 2015, Jack Dwyer, a lawyer who specializes in real estate and water law, delved in to see what they could do to preserve the land they had grown to love. Wanting to respect the Samuelson family heritage, he and Sherry Samuelson developed a plan that would give the Dwyers the space they needed and for the first time, allow other families to build their own legacy on the land.

“Sherry and I talked about it and we came up with a plan together to keep it in the family, and to develop it together,” said Jack Dwyer. “I would do the work and Sherry and her kids would maintain the ownership and try to create generational wealth and turn this change into a positive thing. The fact that three out of four of Sherry’s kids don’t get to enjoy the land, helped make the decision that financially it would be the right move for the family to develop it.” Samuelson saw it as a great idea. “I hope I do get to see all of it done. We have a lot of great memories here,” said Samuelson.

Close to Home
Unlike most development plans, this one would be a bit more sentimental. This new neighborhood consisting of 120 lots, needed to honor the Samuelson family and every street and park needed to be what they wanted for their own kids that would be raised on the land. “With the design, we worked very, very hard laying out the subdivision in a way that we can be proud of,” said Jack Dwyer. “We decided to create community space with walking trails and park space that’s centered in the development. The park will include a hockey rink, skating pad, warming house, shelter, and eventually two big playgrounds. There’s also a gazebo, soccer field, tennis court, youth baseball field and basketball court in the works.”


With the new layout of the subdivision, Jack Dwyer and Sherry Samuelson opted to create lots for all families, designating space for entry-level homes, mid and luxury homes. Lots are protected by the Sheyenne River diversion and range from $19,900 to $174,900. Currently, 30 lots in the first phase are sold with an additional 40 lots optioned to custom builders.

From Classic 1889 to Modern Day Mid-Century
For the Dwyers, they felt honored to be able to move onto the original homestead back in 2009. ” It’s a very special spot and really the best setting,” said Jack Dwyer. “We’ve always said that we have the best yard in Fargo.” “We haven’t had the greatest house and we didn’t have a garage or closets in the original homestead, but we had the best patio and really the most beautiful setting,” said Rachel Dwyer. “For years, we were trying to figure out a way to maybe make enough money to buy the whole place, and keep it forever,” said Jack Dwyer.

Building new was not the first plan the Dwyers had discussed. They had initially looked into remodeling the original house, so they had an architect draw up a floor plan which would then fix the original brick foundation. “Our bids came back basically what we spent on the new house, and we’d still be left with a house with mouse droppings in the wall, poor insulation and no ductwork,” said Jack Dwyer.

Despite a few setbacks from age and wear, the Dwyers were very happy with the home for many years. “We do love it, and we put a lot of energy and care into the original home. We put in new flooring, wall coverings and windows,” said Rachel Dwyer. “ It was kind of funny because my mom had done the same thing here in the early 90s. So, each person that lived here put their own twist on the house. With three kids it was starting to feel tight, but then when we had our fourth child and it got hard to find places for everything. I really was starting to yearn for my kids to have a nice, big place to play, but also a space for them to relax.”


History in the Making
Edward and Louisa Samuelson bought the original homestead in April of 1891. After Edward passed away in the early 1930s, Louisa Samuelson lost the land to a bank in a mortgage foreclosure in 1943. Edward and Louisa’s son and Rachel Dwyer’s great-grandfather Didrick Samuelson, who worked for the Horace Post Office for over 40 years, and his wife Mamie, were able to save up enough money to purchase the land back from the bank in 1948 and keep the land in the family.

“I remember the first time I came across that bridge, I thought, am I going to another country?” laughed Sherry Samuelson. “Uncle John who once lived here, I don’t think he had ever been further than Minnesota, and that was only a couple of times. Other than that, he didn’t go off of the farm.”

Didrick and Mamie Samuelson sold the land to their son Edward Samuelson and his wife Sherry Samuelson in 1965, who placed the land into a trust. For Sherry and Edward Samuelson, they would live in the upstairs of the 1889 home, a space that had been renovated into an apartment for prior family members. Her in-laws then resided on the main level of the home. Sherry Samuelson had often thought of Edward’s parents as her own. After raising two children in the upstairs apartment, anticipation of a third had them moving to a larger home in Fargo.

After Edward and Sherry were divorced in 1978, she decided she could not take the farm away from him, so she suggested he keep the acreage. When a neighboring 50 acres of wooded land came up for sale in 1997, Sherry purchased the additional acreage. Sherry Samuelson eventually purchased the Samuelson land from her ex-husband Edward Samuelson in 2006, and she purchased an additional 60-acre tract from another neighboring landowner in 2006. In the end, with a goal to keep the land in their children’s lives, Sherry Samuelson would end up the owner of 220 acres of untouched nature and the original farmstead.

The Lost River Route

In this area where the original house stands, there will soon be a cul-de-sac with larger lots. The original homestead will be taken out, but the barn will remain, leaving a small piece of the Samuelson legacy for future homeowners to enjoy.

On a walk to the riverbank, Jack Dwyer showed us his favorite spots, including the land he bow hunts on and a canoe landing where he often fishes. Phase two, which is not yet begun, will likely include the picturesque, untouched land beyond the clearing. Taking us into the meadow past the cul-de-sac, Jack Dwyer explains that this is the abandoned riverbed where water once ran through, hence the name of the development, Lost River.

Building a New Heritage

Just past Lost River road, down a street named after Rachel Dwyer’s great grandpa Didrick Samuelson, the Dwyers have completed the build of their new home. For the design of their dream home, the Dwyers worked with Jason Carpenter of Carpenter Homes. Going for a transitional design, they chose to intermingle craftsman quality with mid-century modern appeal. Even Rachel’s grandma, Sherry Samuelson was in agreement. “I was really pleased when Jack and Rachel built this, they’ve done such a good job,” said Samuelson. “I thought of building out here, but oh, I’d get carried away,” she laughed.

Throughout the home, the Dwyers opted do their own design, choosing much of their furniture from Scan Design in Fargo, N.D. “We just chose the things that we have always liked. We had planned to go to the cities to buy much of the furniture from Room & Board, but once we went into Scan Design, we found everything we needed and decided not to leave town. They had so many great pieces.” They also searched high and low for an oil-brushed, white oak flooring they had seen on Houzz, finally spotting the elusive flooring in the JW Kitchens showroom.


“In all of the really modern houses you see white walls,” said Rachel Dwyer. “But, we wanted it to stand out against our white cabinets and white trim, so we did Egret White (Sherwin Williams) so there’s some subtle contrast. Our perfect trim is no trim, but that’s not really an option. Our builder loves craftsman trim, so his perfect trim is as much trim as possible, so we found this to be a pretty likable balance. It frames everything out nicely, but it doesn’t have that typical strong, top molding like craftsman does.”

“We were really inspired by mid-century modern and Scandinavian style,” said Rachel Dwyer of their new home. “When we looked through Houzz, we were always drawn to walnut and also a glossy white. We ended up having Poss Custom Cabinets do all of the cabinets in a white slab with a European overlay and walnut trim. Everywhere except the kitchen, we did walnut with our built-ins.” Sharing the same design preference, Rachel Dwyer and her grandmother both love contemporary styling. “I had a home in Seattle and I told Rachel, her hardware in the kitchen is the same as I had in my Seattle home,” said Sherry Samuelson.


For the unique countertop, the Dwyers worked with Northern Stone. “They were great to work with,” said Rachel Dwyer. “We chose a lightly-leathered granite, so it has a matte look without having the ridges.” Coordinating perfectly, the backsplash is a wider subway tile, stacked, also in a matte finish.

For the powder room, Rachel Dwyer chose mid-century modern lighting, penny round floor tile and a stunning tulip wall covering with Scandinavian flair. “We even borrowed some pieces like that vase from my grandmother, she has very modern taste, so it’s fun to bring those into our new home,” said Rachel Dwyer. “I think I got my love of modern design from her.”

Find the Finishes
Homebuilder- Carpenter Homes
Powder room wall covering – Scandinavian Tulips, Wayfair
Lighting – Wayfair
Powder room and kitchen backsplash tile – Imperial Flooring
Kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, family room floating shelves – Poss Custom Cabinets
Quartz powder room sink and kitchen countertop – Northern Stone
White Oak flooring – JW Kitchens
Appliances – Rigel’s
Island stools – Scan Design
Dining table lighting – Lowe’s
Exterior landscape design – Boyle Landscape Architects
Linear fireplace – Hebron Brick
Fireplace tile – Imperial Flooring
Sofa, desk, dining table, rugs, chair, artwork & coffee table – Scan Design
Office artwork – Rando


For the exterior, the Dwyers chose privacy fencing on the side, then open-style fencing on the back to preserve the view to the river. “Peter Boyle of Boyle Landscape Architects actually transplanted flowers from the original homestead, so a lot of them are my great grandmother’s flowers, ” said Rachel Dwyer.

“One of Jason’s ideas to customize this house was to bump out the platform outside of the base of the house in the stairwell. It really did change the look of the house on the exterior,” said Rachel Dwyer. “Jason called us while we were in France in June and said, you know with your high pitched roof, why don’t we put a bonus room up there. There was already an artificial window for exterior appeal, so we thought let’s bump it out over here and make it a playroom, then bump the other wall out and create another bedroom. That’s when we decided not to finish the basement. With our boys sharing a room, our older son can move up to the third level when he’s ready.”

Homebuilder- Carpenter Homes
Exterior landscape design – Boyle Landscape Architects
Irrigation – Aqua Lawn Sprinkler Systems
Siding – LP Smart Siding


The Dwyers second level consists of a master suite, laundry room, kids bathroom, and three kid’s rooms with spacious walk-in-closets.

The Dwyers found the laundry room’s quartz countertop as a remnant at Northern Stone. “We just lucked out at getting the exact size we needed,” said Rachel Dwyer. They even managed to salvage some of the wood flooring from the old homestead remodel, gathering enough to cover the laundry floor.

Upstairs in the kid’s bathroom, they leaned towards contemporary with a walnut linen divider and double under-mount sinks in quartz. “Since there’s no closet here and I didn’t want to lose space, I had Poss custom design a space for rolled towels,” said Rachel Dwyer.

Find the Finishes
Flooring, shower tile and penny round tile – Imperial Flooring
Lighting – Wayfair
Quartz vanity counters – Northern Stone
Master bedroom – Bamboo furniture, Scan Design
Custom glass shower door – Red River Glazing

Saving a bird’s-eye of the river for their master suite, the Dwyers bedroom is completed with Scandinavian bamboo and contemporary stylings.

Mod lighting sets a mid-century tone for the Dwyers master bath.
Inside their spa-inspired shower, they chose a black penny-round tile complimented by a stunning, wood-look tile from Imperial Flooring.


“It’s so special that our kids are the sixth generation to live on this land. The new house is just a really functional space for us and we’re still here on the family homestead.”
Rachel Dwyer

While Jack Dwyer has his own law firm, Dwyer Law, Rachel Dwyer has a 14-year career teaching French in West Fargo and currently at Sheyenne High School. They’ve been married for 11 years and have four children, Jesse 8, Dahlia 6, Mikey 3 and Sophie 1.

For information on Lost River Development, contact:
Jack Dwyer

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Epic Masterpiece

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography A stand-out home on the HBA’s Fall Parade of Homes, this Epic Homes masterpiece, located in The Wilds subdivision, is a…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

A stand-out home on the HBA’s Fall Parade of Homes, this Epic Homes masterpiece, located in The Wilds subdivision, is a must-see if you’re in the market for a new home. Epic Homes may be newer to the area, but they’ve quickly made a name for themselves with top-notch craftsmanship and a unique spin on finishes. Mix in a partnership with architect Jan Mevold of Mevold Studios and they’ve got themselves a recipe for success. After originally building custom homes in Western North Dakota, see how this young team is now spreading their wings on the other side of the state.

The Wilds
Located in The Wilds subdivision of West Fargo, this transitional, craftsman-style home resides on a massive, 16,600 square-foot lot with oversized front porch and extensive, covered patio in the back.

The Team
Epic Homes started as Venture Building Company with the owner, Parker Pladson, just over seven years ago, but it wasn’t until this year that all four of the team members began their Fargo partnership and rebranding to Epic Homes. Pladson is the owner and one of the project managers but wears many hats in running all aspects of the business. Taylor Belk is another project manager who was one of the first to join Pladson and help integrate the expansion to Fargo. Tom Seifert joined the team this Spring and manages the sales and marketing for Epic Homes. Another team member they consider pivotal to their building process is architect Jan Mevold, of Mevold Studios. Mevold and Belk are NDSU graduates, while Seifert graduated from University of Mary and Pladson from Dickinson State.

Design: Exterior Vs. Interior
“One thing we try to do is bring the outside look of the house inside,” said Belk. “So, whether it’s modern, farmhouse, contemporary or craftsmen, we try to carry that style through to the inside. That’s a major reason why we work with Jan Mevold, he can help if we have an idea of what we want the inside to look like, he can help carry that to the outside.”

Expanding the Front Porch
At first arrival of this home, one important feature proves a pivotal detail in the design and enjoyment of their homes. “We believe in putting larger front porches on our homes,” said Belk. “It brings the attention back to the front of the house. If you look at older homes that are still around, one big thing that you’ll notice is a lot of large front porches. In some of the newer neighborhoods, we feel they really lack that. Every house we do, we have at least a 200 square-foot front porch.”

“The first reason we do bigger front porches is because of the weather, and mainly snow in this part of the country, ” said architect Jan Mevold. “We also never want a garage to overpower the house. In neighborhoods today, garages are huge. Also, if you have a big, covered front porch, people are going to sit out there and you’ll share it with your friends and see your neighbors as they pass by. It’s much more welcoming.”

“Even with the exterior and our LP Smart Siding, we don’t believe in skimping or cutting corners ever, which gives us a better quality product with fewer issues dealing with our climate,” said Seifert. “The nice thing about LP is that it does give you that wood grain and plank look, it allows us to do more architectural features on the outside of the house with a lot of color options,” explained Belk. “There’s also whole-house audio that includes the front porch and back covered porch that can be run through your phone.”


Epic Interior Design

Architectural Elements + Mevold Studio
“I’ve known Taylor and Parker for a long time, so when I decided to come to Fargo they wanted to do a spec home,” said Mevold. “So, we worked together on the design of this house and had a lot of conversations about how to make a home different. For a spec home, you don’t have a client, so we wanted to create something that was different than other homes. The architectural bones were important to us because that’s something the homeowner can’t easily change. We needed to create something that would be timeless. We also wanted to take advantage of the location, this is a nice size lot with a really nice backyard, so we wanted to do great window placement and high ceilings.”

“As far as the architectural elements, this stone on the mantel is the same stone we used on the outside. So, you have a lot of big pieces, which I think is kind of missing sometimes in a space where the outside is very masculine but the inside is very feminine,” said Mevold. “We try to balance the two together.”

“It’s hard to explain until you see it, but what Jan does for our clients is being able to show a King size bed to-scale in the master bedroom or if they drive a certain vehicle, we can put that to scale in the garage. This way they can see how much room they’re actually getting. The average person isn’t going to know until they’re living in the house that they should have made that one room bigger. We just don’t run into those issues as often as some builders. We can really show them from the beginning what it looks like.” The team can even offer 3-D renderings so homeowners can see the space before it’s built.

Inside the home, the Epic Homes team, along with Mevold Studio, designed a stunning space with 2,100 square-feet on the main level. In the primary living area, vaulted ceilings reach an impressive 20-feet with beautiful Alder ceiling beams. A stone hearth is at the center of the space, accented by floating shelves and custom-painted built-ins. For Epic Homes, everything from the stain color to the painted built-ins is completely custom.

In this space, Alder beams are stained to match the floating shelves, mantel and stair railing. Don’t bother trying to search for the paint color on the lower built-ins, this is a custom color created specifically for Epic Homes. They’ve also carried this paint color through to the kitchen island. “Even with stain, we don’t just find a stain color that works, everything’s custom made for the home,” said Pladson. Even the stair railing leading to the lower-level, is specially fabricated in a unique, thatched design.

Grey is the New White
An uncommon design choice, the team steered away from the typical white trim, instead opting for a tone called Mindful Grey. “That’s just one of the design details we really enjoyed. It’s something different that carries through all of the design and architectural elements,” explained Seifert. “We go through an extensive finishing process to ensure that the color looks good and you can’t see any nail holes. It’s actually painted in place.”

This gorgeous kitchen starts with varying ceiling heights creating a double-vault at 13.5 feet. A custom painted island in the same hue as the mantel built-ins create a stylish presence with Quartz countertops and a farmhouse sink. Sleek, white cabinetry with top, crown moldings pair perfectly with the grey glass, subway tile backsplash.
The kitchen amenities include high-end appliances with double oven, an island dishwasher and lower microwave. “The island is 10 feet wide. One thing that we do when we put the sink in the countertop, we make the width of the island larger so you can actually use the area behind the sink,” explained Mevold.

Pantry Perfection
If you haven’t yet spotted the pantry, that’s exactly what the Epic Homes’ team wanted. “This idea just came from wanting to incorporate a pantry but design it in a way that no one else does, so we came up with this idea. We found some pictures of things that were similar and then just figured out how to make it work,” explained Pladson. “But, we wanted to incorporate it in a way that made it look like it’s part of the cabinetry. “With it being closed, you’d never even notice that it was there.”

To complete the hidden pantry door, Epic Homes started with an interior door and worked closely with Clearwater Custom Cabinets to place actual cabinetry on the face of it. To give it a seamless look, they wrapped the whole area with cabinetry so that it looks like another cabinet door with drawers. It easily pushes open with a chalk ledge underneath the built-in chalkboard. Inside, the team made sure to create a space that’s ready for a full-size, standing freezer and even an additional fridge.

“We do sub everything out when we build a home, and the reason we do that is that we find the people that are the best at what they do,” said Belk. “To build this hidden pantry door, it took a few meetings with Clearwater Custom Cabinets to figure out the best way to open and close the door, and how are we going to make the door match the cabinets. It was just a collaboration of us installing the door during framing, pulling it out, bringing it to the cabinet shop and going through a couple of different options on how to lay out the doors and chalkboard, then re-install it. We like to be able to take images that clients bring us and figure out a way to do it.”

Made for Life

The main level includes a separate laundry room with custom cabinetry and quartz countertops. For the walls, the team took a different approach with grey shiplap, creating looser lines for a more interesting, rustic look.

In the Mudroom, Epic Homes designed a drop zone for coats, shoes and a separate space for mail and media storage. Custom five-panel doors give the home a unique transitional look between craftsman and contemporary.

Epic Homes doesn’t skimp on their guest bedrooms. Larger than average windows and closets bigger than most master closets, make this a guest bedroom everyone will want to stay in. To gain valuable, natural light, Epic Homes often includes windows in the closets as well.

The Master Suite features a raised, box ceiling with crown molding around the perimeter and optional accent lighting that can change hues. For this room, they chose a cleaner shiplap in white and their signature, grey trim. A sliding barn door in Alder leads to the impressive master closet and master bath.

Another custom color created by Epic Homes is featured on the master bath’s painted vanities with furniture-style legs and double sinks. The bath also features audio, a wood-look ceramic tile floor, custom-designed, tile shower and separate toilet room.

Crafting Backyard Bliss
Epic Homes doesn’t just believe in large front porches, their excitement for enjoying the outdoors is just as impressive in the backyard. Creating a beautiful, covered patio with custom beams and stonework is all just part of the foundation. “Our raised porch areas are actually incorporated into the foundation of the home,” said Pladson. “It’s a unique feature and we love doing it because you truly get a maintenance-free porch. Whereas even a deck, relative costs are close in price. With this, you can shovel it, you can set a hot tub on it and there are no weight restrictions. It’s never going to move.”

In the Details
If the Epic Homes’ team sees something they like, they figure out how to do it and incorporate it into their homes in a unique way. “With all of us so young, none of us are really set in our ways,” said Pladson. “We actually always looking for something different and better ways to do things versus thinking we know every way that something needs to be done, which I think gives us a huge competitive advantage. As a team, we do the lighting choice and finishes ourselves. I love the design part of it, interior-wise so I work with the designer on everything in here.”


One thing the team does is poll their Facebook followers, giving them design choices and asking which they prefer. This gives them insight into current trends and what homeowners are looking for. “People vote on it and they really take that info and incorporate it into the interior space,” said Mevold. “A lot of the images people seemed to like, had more of that masculine feel, it wasn’t just feminine styling.”

At Epic Homes, their minimum standards are far from the minimum. “Cabinets are always soft close and we even will have special knives made so we can get a truly custom design on the door panels,” said Belk. “For the garage, we automatically start at 26 to 27 feet in depth. So, even if you have a full-size truck with a crew cab or a suburban, you’re still going to have ample walking space around your vehicle. We really think about what you actually need in a house and not just build it according to someone’s minimum expectations. There are certain measurements that we rely on Jan for, like the distance between the island and the outer cabinets to make sure the walkways are big enough and the space fits what’s in it.”

Anything but Cookie-Cutter
Epic Homes is anything but cookie-cutter. “We don’t have a set number of floorplans to choose from, clients come in with some ideas and we take it from there creating their dream home,” said Seifert. “We work with Jan exclusively and won’t build a home without him. We also won’t build the same house twice. Every home is start to finish working with our clients.”

“When I started working for these guys, it worked out well because, from my point-of-view, I never want to design the same house twice,” said Mevold. “It’s not fun for me. It doesn’t matter how big or small a house is. The proportion is smaller in a smaller home and we just take that challenge to design a house that’s somebody’s dream. If there are a husband and wife you have to come up with a design that makes them both happy, usually the wife wins,” laughed Mevold.

Building a Partnership
For Epic Homes, building their team was a story in full circle. Pladson began building in 2011 in Dickinson, then in 2013 started building custom homes in Bismarck. He met Belk in between, while he was employed at Roers in the same area.

“We’ve all known each other for a long time and I think what makes us special is how we all came together. Taylor and I became fast friends, he was actually dating my cousin, who’s now his wife,” laughed Pladson. “I met Tom around the same time period through a mutual friend.” Belk started off in commercial builds in Dickinson and ended up building his own house on the side, propelling him into the world of homebuilding.

“While I was in commercial, I met Jan and going from commercial to residential, I ended up moving from Dickinson back to Fargo,” said Belk. “I worked for another homebuilder for a couple of years. Meanwhile, I was still working with Jan, and still keeping in touch with Parker. Parker always gave me the guidance and the support while I was learning about homebuilding. Eventually, I had contacted Parker and he came down to Fargo and we immediately discussed what it would be like to take Epic Homes and branch out to Fargo. We spent about a week together discussing it and we knew each other well, our strengths and weaknesses. This was our best opportunity to team up and see what we could do together.”

Pladson met Jan through Belk about two years ago when he designed the exterior of his personal home in Bismarck. “I thought he did a great job. I didn’t have a lot of experience working with an architect in the past, I worked with him and had a really good experience,” said Pladson. “As soon as we started to first work together it was just an experience that I enjoyed and knew our clients would also appreciate. We all knew it was something that we had to stick with.”

Pladson met Seifert and over the course of five years, had many conversations about working together, but not ever knowing if it would happen. “I don’t know how or why, but from day one, we always ended up talking business, bettering ourselves, just life really,” said Seifert. “There were opportunities that we felt at some point we should take advantage of. It’s funny how life works out and brought us all together.”

“Fast Forward a few years, and we decided to reinvent ourselves a bit,” said Pladson. “We were building custom homes already, but we wanted to expand on that experience and make it even better for clients. This would allow us to be more creative from start to finish. I started talking to Tom more seriously, I knew he was one of the pieces of the puzzle. I knew he was a really smart person and would be an incredible salesperson and great marketer for the new company.”

“I came to NDSU for college and fell in love with Fargo,” said Belk. “I knew that would be the place I wanted to call home. Now that we’re all working together, we all just enjoy the state of North Dakota in general. We’re going back and forth between friends and family all the time, it’s really not as difficult as people may think to build in different cities.” Right now, the Epic Homes team has built just about everywhere in the state and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

Find the Finishes
Stonework – Swenson Masonry
Cabinets – Clearwater Custom Cabinets
Countertops – Northern Stone
Painting – Weyer-For-Hire
Interior Design & staging – Mary Richholt and Amber Flick, Interiors by France
Siding – Allied (supplier), ICP (installer) 
Whole-house Audio – Pacific Sound and Video
Electrical – Axis Electric
Interior Millwork – D&M Industries and NT Woodworks
Appliances – Karl’s Appliance

Architect – Jan Mevold

Epic Homes
Taylor Belk

Mevold Studio
Jan Mevold

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Par Three Overhaul

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography On a quiet, picturesque street near the Fargo Country Club, you’ll find a Mediterranean-styled home that’s recently received a contemporary overhaul….

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

On a quiet, picturesque street near the Fargo Country Club, you’ll find a Mediterranean-styled home that’s recently received a contemporary overhaul. A beautiful home with great bones, the homeowners worked closely with Dan Elton of Chris Hawley Architects, to fuse the original home’s style with their own more contemporary style. Revamping the layout meant creating a space that would be a perfect fit for their family of five.

Construction Process
Four years ago amidst plans to build on a lot in West Fargo, realtor, Erik Hatch reached out to the homeowners with this pocket listing on the Par 3 course of the Fargo Country Club. They had once told Hatch of their desire to live in this neighborhood, but at the time they were planning their build; nothing had been listed.

At first glance, it was a beautiful home that was clearly well-built but designed in a Spanish villa style they were not accustomed to. Beneath the Spanish facade, the homeowner’s husband had a vision for renovation and he soon convinced his wife that this could be their forever home. With beautiful, mature trees and plenty to do with the kids, right in their backyard, the home was hard to pass up.

With the original home’s exterior having a Mediterranean flair, the homeowners made subtle changes for big curb appeal. They replaced the original dark wood with a more contemporary, Cor-Ten steel near the front door. Cor-Ten starts out as silver, then naturally rusts for a unique look. The landscaping was updated by taking out the old paver stone and replacing it with a natural stone sidewalk and stairs. Additional updates included a new garage door, new house numbers, and exterior lighting.

Renovation Goals
Wanting to create a transitional style melding Mediterranean, craftsman and contemporary, the homeowners reached out to Chris Hawley Architects to carry out their vision. Architects Chris Hawley and Dan Elton were tasked with figuring out a new floorplan which would fit the lifestyle of their family of five.

After purchasing their home, and while coming up with a renovation plan, the homeowners lived in the original space for a few months before moving to a two-bedroom apartment in Downtown Fargo so the demo and renovation could get started. Demo was done on the entire home at once, stripping the main and upper levels down to the studs. The entire renovation then took about 12 months to complete.

Architectural Aspirations
The home had really good bones and good flow, it was a great space for entertaining,” said the homeowner. “It’s an older house, but had the open floor plan we were looking for. My biggest worry was whether we could make it work for our family. My husband recognized the potential and Chris Hawley and Dan Elton helped us create a home that was both beautiful and functional. Dan did most of the interior drawings, with Chris helping out with some with the interior floor plan and exterior elevations.”

“This project had some interesting challenges,” said architect Dan Elton. “We had plenty of room, so an addition wasn’t necessary nor possible on the small lot. But we were faced with a 70’s interior done in Mediterranean styling. Our goal was to update the house to better match a modern family lifestyle, yet retain some of the existing Mediterranean flavors, because it needed to stay connected to the exterior style.”

“Enlisting the help of an architect was probably the best decision we made on this project,” said the homeowner. “We knew what we wanted out of the home and what our style was, but didn’t know how to make it all come together. Dan and Chris did a great job understanding our needs and coming up with a design plan that was perfect for our family. I knew in my head what I wanted our home to look like, but it’s amazing when they do the drawings how it all comes together and you can see those ideas on paper. The whole architectural process went really smoothly and we appreciated their patience with us. The best part was the design work that Chris and Dan did, it gave us a lot of reassurance that we could really turn this house into our home.”

For the homeowners, the great room was one of their bigger challenges, due to the position of the fireplace. To lend more function to the space, they changed their focus from sitting around the fire to designating a sitting area on one end, then chose a position for the piano as the transition to the dining room. “We found this old piano at Schmidt music, someone had traded it in. We loved the worn, matte finish and it fits perfectly in the corner of the great room,” said the homeowner.

“That’s the original 20-foot-high, wood ceiling and one of the reasons why we bought the home,” explained the homeowner. “There was darker wood on the cross beams, so we replaced them with painted drywall to lighten up the room. Changing the windows also made a big difference. The original windows were quite a bit lower so you could see right into the neighbor’s house.”

“We added upper windows in the living room to bring in more daylight, removed the Meditteranean, red tile flooring in favor of warm wood-scraped oak, and re-built the dated stair to give a fresh, modern touch to the center of the house,” said Dan Elton. “The fireplace got a face-lift, yet the structure remained in place.”

Beyond the beams and impressive hearth, a stand-out furniture piece is the 6-foot-long, matted, wood coffee table built by the homeowner over the course of four days.

A massive focal point in the great room, the home’s hearth was once comprised of stucco all the way up with a red brick around it, so it was one of the major factors creating the Meditteranean styling. The original walls were plaster and they were painted red, with orange, ceramic tile for the flooring. To give the hearth a style update, the homeowners worked with Elton to rebuild its facade. The homeowner searched Hebron Brick’s scrap lot for the smaller, remnants of Montana stones. Larger pieces were then found to match and used as a sitting area in front of the fireplace.

The homeowner built the wood mantel himself, learning the craft from his dad and using timbers his dad had collected at the lake. Plans to switch it back to a wood-burning fireplace is a goal for a later date.

To update the original baseboard heat, they contacted Straightline Design to fabricate more contemporary registers throughout the home. “That was one of the hardest things to figure out,” said the homeowner. “You just can’t buy registers like this, the replacements we found all looked like they should be in an office building.”

With the high ceilings and the expansive great room connected to the dining room, this space called for an equally impressive chandelier to balance the space.
Creating a dining table to fit their space to-a-tee, the homeowner spent one week building the eight-foot-long, wood table.

The kitchen probably needed the most work,” said Elton. “With new cabinets, floor, appliances and lighting, it went from an awkward, dark, uninviting space to an efficient showplace.” They also worked to change the layout, moving the patio door around the corner and widening the door to the kitchen to create more usable space. The newly designed space featured two islands and a larger perimeter counter space. The high-end range is one appliance the owners kept from the original home. “I really like the idea of two islands because the kids can be doing homework, while I’m cooking and using the one island for prep. The kitchen and living room are favorite spaces for us, this is really where we live. The open floor plan allows me to be in the kitchen, but still keeping an eye on the kids in the living room and be a part of what they’re doing,” explained the homeowner.

For the kitchen finishes, new granite and white cabinetry replaced the original honey maple cabinetry. A smaller subway tile backsplash and vintage lighting in a transitional style, tied in both the existing Meditteranean and newer contemporary stylings. “Having a Spanish-style house, we felt like we couldn’t be too modern with our style. We wanted it to still work as well as it could with the exterior of the house,” said the homeowner.

Just off of the kitchen, the owners opted to keep the sunken layout of the living room, creating a casual den and TV room. “For this space, we just wanted everything comfortable and cozy, with usable space. We didn’t want a room that nobody sat in, all of our space gets used.” The homeowner’s husband built the unique, wooden coffee table from a timber that was once 15-feet long to fit the room’s laid-back style. Since the family room had baseboards all around, the homeowners opted for wall-hung built-ins, creating an entertainment center just off of the kitchen area.

With the master bedroom located on the main level, this was a great selling point for the homeowners. “We changed the layout in the master a lot. The hot water heat registers make positioning furniture difficult, there were also existing doors and a window that we had to work around,” explained the homeowner. “The previous owners had the bed on the opposite wall, but we wanted to be able to see out the door if the kids were coming in. One of the unique challenges is making the design work within the confines of the existing space. We ended up positioning the bed partly under the window and I made a collage of pictures to try to balance the wall and provide some symmetry.”

In the original home, there was a long, narrow hallway coming into the bathroom, so this area was reworked for better flow. Now, entering from the master bedroom, a sleek, custom closet welcomes them to their master bath. Lightening the space, the homeowners replaced the dated, ceramic tile and dark cabinets. For the new, updated space, the homeowners chose heated flooring, Quartz countertops, and a Quartz soaking tub surround with chrome fixtures and lighter tones.

“They just had a single sink in here, so by moving the door, we were able to put double sinks and a center linen cabinet in the master bath,” explained the homeowner. “Before there was a single shower and a little vanity sitting where the tub is now.”


Upstairs Renovation
“Upstairs, we re-organized and modernized the bathrooms and closets to better fit the kid’s needs and added a small laundry,” explained Elton. “From there, the homeowners did a great job lightening the color palette and choosing materials, cabinets and fixtures that fit the overall theme. This was a fun upgrade for a fun family.”

Upstairs, each of the girl’s rooms had a huge closet. There were two bathrooms and one of the rooms had its own bathroom. Revamping the space from the closets, they were able to carve a bathroom for the girls and create the smaller closets for each side.

Keeping the staircase in the original location, the homeowners contacted Straightline Design to fabricate a new railing. What was once a Mediterranean-styled, metal staircase that was not up to today’s code, was now a sleeker, more contemporary version that would be safer for their three, young kids. Finishing the styling, the homeowners added new wood and carpet to the stairs.

Future Projects
With the country club’s pool nearby, the homeowners have noticed that the kids come in the patio door and throw their wet things down near the kitchen and family room. To eliminate this, the homeowners are currently working with Chris Hawley Architects to create a screened-in porch which can also function as a drop zone for their three kids.

Find the Finishes
Architect – Dan Elton, Chris Hawley Architects
Contractor – Radiant Homes
Landscaping, front sidewalk, and stairs – Natural Environments Landscaping & Outdoor Living
Exterior house numbers – Eco Chic Boutique
Kitchen and bathroom granite – Northern Stone
Wood flooring – Carpet World
Hearth stones – Hebron Brick
Dining room chandelier – Restoration Hardware
Great room side tables – Pottery Barn
Custom registers and stair railing – Straightline Design
Faucets, fixtures, and appliances – Ferguson

Chris Hawley Architects
2534 South University Drive, #3, Fargo, N.D.

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