Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

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Category: Architecture

Classic Elegance + East Coast Charm

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography When Cara and Cole Christenson found their beautiful pond lot in West Fargo’s River’s Bend development, they had not planned on…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

When Cara and Cole Christenson found their beautiful pond lot in West Fargo’s River’s Bend development, they had not planned on building on it for at least a few years. Finding inspiration in Studio West Home’s work on the HBA’s Parade of Homes last year, their plans quickly progressed from ideas on the drawing board to reality. Working closely with Kirsten Waverek, Elliot Steinbrink and Trisha Stibbe of Studio West Homes, the team was able to bring to life a stunning two-story vision, with a fusion of classic design elements and coastal charm.

The Christensons built their rambler just three years ago, but last year set their sights on the beautiful pond lot with endless potential. Despite their plans to hold off on a new build, the couple couldn’t help but start dreaming up their new vision. They started meeting with various builders and eventually set their hearts on the signature style that Kirsten Waverek of Studio West Homes had become known for. “We had ideas in our head that were very broad, but one of the reasons we went with them is the trust that we felt right away,” said Cole Christenson. “We loved their style and their vision. We showed them what we liked in general, and Kirsten honed in and got us to where we are now. It’s been a great process and decision to work with them.”

Nearly a year later, after first meeting the Studio West Homes’ team, the Christensons are planning their May move-in date. Transitioning from a rambler with more industrial finishes, the family of three is ready for the more refined and classic design of their custom two-story. Encompassing 3,130 square feet with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, every inch of the home speaks to the craftsmanship of the builder and personality of the homeowner.

Key Design Elements
“We came to Studio West Homes with five key things that we wanted in the home. Since our last home was a rambler, we wanted a two-story this time with a catwalk upstairs and a vaulted entry and living room,” explained Cara Christenson. “We also asked for a spacious master suite with a soaker tub and walk-out balcony, then a nearby bedroom suite for our daughter, Sloane.”

Visual Reassurance
Letting the design evolve throughout the process, Studio West relied on computer-generated renderings to help the Christenson’s visualize the current state and eliminate any unwelcome surprises.

Planning the Design
To create their unique mix of traditional and classic elements, Cara Christenson created a Pinterest board and provided Studio West Homes with ideas and images to set the wheels in motion.

Waverek and Cara Christenson worked together to find the lighting online, in a mix of traditional, vintage and mid-century modern designs. “We wanted the home to feel very classic and traditional with an East Coast feel, but then liven it up with a few modern touches within the lighting choices,” said Cara Christenson.

To achieve the fused look, they chose antiqued Brass finishes in the main living areas and chrome fixtures in the bathrooms. White-oak laminate flooring and crisp white trim lend a beach house vibe while soaring ceiling heights create modern elegance. To unify the proportions between the kitchen’s 10-foot ceiling and the great room’s 20-foot ceilings, Studio West incorporated taller doors and custom-designed, seven-inch base trim.

Leveraging the 20-foot ceiling height in the entry, the team designed a grand entrance with a white-paneled, stairwell wall and white oak banister as the focal point. The more classically elegant entry design is their guest’s first glimpse of the home’s timeless style.

“Cara had wanted this light fixture for years, so the powder room design centered around the plaster white, vintage lighting, then extended to the Serena & Lily wall covering that she found,” said Waverek. “To create the double-shelf, wall hung vanity, we used a stained red oak to emulate the white oak look of the flooring.”

From Rustic Industrial to Classic Elegance
“Originally, we had planned to do reclaimed wood beams in the 20-foot ceilings of the great room, but as they started making their selections, we realized that they were going away from the more industrial design of their last home,” said Waverek. To remedy the design, Studio West switched the reclaimed beams out with a more traditional beam style, then added classic paneling to the fireplace and a unique white-washed look tile that Cara Christenson had found.

“For the great room’s blinds and our lighting, we had Jamie from Smart Home Technologies come in and do a walk-through,” said Cara Christenson. “All of our lighting is now on a Crestron system and we decided on doing electronic shades just on the lower portion of the windows since we don’t get much direct sunlight on that side of the house.”

One industrial element the Christenson’s chose to keep is the locally-designed Finnu Designs dining table by Josh Humble.

Just beyond the great room, the Christensons and Studio West have designed an open layout which is integral for entertaining and family time. The dining area transitions from the great room to either the sunroom or kitchen with close proximity to all three spaces. Keeping with a lighter, beach house vibe, Studio West worked with Wendt Custom Cabinets to create the contrast between the Simply White cabinetry and Stonington Grey painted island with antique brass hardware and classic subway tile. To add a modern element, wall-hung shelving was finished to complement the lighter tones of the white oak flooring.

Since the mudroom can be seen from the kitchen, the team needed to create a cohesive design between the two rooms. To do this, they chose the same Stonington Grey tone of the kitchen island on the mudroom cabinetry and drop zone.

Beach Bum & Bohemian
For the staging and design of the home, Studio West worked with the Cara Christenson to put a fun twist on their own personal style. “With everything being so light and bright we kind of liked it being a little bit beachy, a little bohemian, then mixing in a fresh green so it’s not just that typical home,” said Waverek. “There are some really fun accents, but it’s still that traditional, classic design with some really strong bones. Our hashtag for this home is #Studiowestcoastalcharm – it’s kind of that coastal style with the lighter wood and beachy fabrics and linens. Then we bring in a little bit of glam with all of the gold, velvet and pops of pink that Cara loved. A pop of color like this one can go a long way.”


Upstyled Upstairs
“For me, this design was initially a little more challenging,” said Waverek. “Cara and Cole had gone to quite a few open houses and existing properties for sale, and they said they really loved this two-story entry and the look of the catwalk. That was a type of design that we hadn’t really done before, but I absolutely love the way it turned out. The design and layout definitely evolved as we went through the process.”

Upstairs in the custom-designed laundry room, the team chose a bold, yet classic hue of Hale Navy cabinetry with aged brass hardware and a patterned, sheet vinyl flooring. With the master closet located just behind the laundry room, it created a unique opportunity to incorporate a direct pass-through for their laundry basket.

Another check off of their wish list was the upstairs master suite. Studio West worked closely with the couple to design a relaxing space with plenty of amenities. “They’re both big readers, so it was nice to incorporate some built-ins for their books and a cozy sitting area overlooking the pond. Eventually, just outside of their bedroom there will be a walkout balcony deck,” said Waverek.

“Their master bath turned out beautifully with the herringbone marble tile and heated floors. We mixed in more modern fixtures in chrome with marble-look quartz countertops and the same Simply White cabinets as the kitchen perimeter,” said Waverek. “We also incorporated his and hers sinks with a side makeup vanity as well as a soaker tub and a custom tile and glass shower.

Making Pinterest perfection with the ceiling slant, Studio West created a charming space for their four-year-old daughter Sloane – complete with beautiful built-ins and a dreamy window seat for reading.

“We only build a handful of homes each year, so we get to know our clients really well,” said Kirsten Waverek. “We want every home to be personalized to the homeowner and really fit their personality. We love finding new ideas, so when clients come to us with organized ideas like Cara and Cole did, we know exactly which direction to go in. They both have phenomenal taste and we’re so excited to have gotten the opportunity to work with them.”

Find the Finishes:
Powder room lighting – Visual Comfort
Powder room wall covering – Serena & Lily
Great room chandelier – Circa
Great room blinds & Crestron lighting controls – Smart Home Technologies
Kitchen, bathrooms and fireplace surround tile – Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Cabinetry and built-ins – Wendt Custom Cabinets
Antiqued Brass hardware – Wendt Custom Cabinets
Flooring – Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Kitchen pendants – Rejuvenation
Kitchen sink sconce – Restoration Hardware
Master bedroom pendant lights – Serena & Lily
Countertops – Spaulding Stone
Master bath glass doors – Frontier Glass
Master soaker tub and fixtures – Northern Plumbing Supply / Waterfront Kitchen & Bath
Master bath lighting – West Elm, Wayfair
Dining room table – Finnu Designs

For more information, contact:
Studio West Homes

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[ Sneak Peek ] The City Centre Lofts Project

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis, renderings by Foss Architecture + Interiors FMI Team members Michael Kelly and Lori Prokop, along with architect Adam Peterson of Foss Architecture…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis, renderings by Foss Architecture + Interiors

FMI Team members Michael Kelly and Lori Prokop, along with architect Adam Peterson of Foss Architecture + Interiors. Not shown, FMI Team member and partner, Kevin Hall and design coordinator, Kathy Mawicke.

Those who know Downtown Fargo well, know that this distinct area has many different faces amidst eclectic personalities. While the bulk of the crowds are lured to the excitement of Broadway, others are drawn to the more serene face of downtown, just to the East of the bustling crowds. Exchanging vibrant nightlife for the quiet of nature and breathtaking river views, the new City Centre Lofts promises to win the hearts of both excitement seekers and nature enthusiasts. While this unique condominium project is in its early phases, we met with the FMI Team to give our readers a sneak peek of what’s to come in the heart of Downtown Fargo.

The New Face of Downtown
It’s time to do a drive-by and check out the future site of the City Centre Lofts project currently being developed. In pursuit of striking the perfect balance between nature and a contemporary, urban lifestyle, they will soon be located on Second Street and Fourth Avenue North in Downtown Fargo. Currently underway, their task begins with an underground parking project for the nearby city hall, followed by the start of construction on the four levels of residential loft units.

Evolving Plans
Hall and Kelly owned the prior location of the SideStreet Grille & Pub and Howard Johnson hotel. When that location became eminent domain for the flood wall, the two moved SideStreet to a new location at 404 Fourth Avenue in Downtown Fargo. After the new city hall was built and a need for parking was evident, the team took a portion of their property and made plans to support the city hall’s parking needs prior to starting their condominium project.

“It was a vision of mine many years ago that we were going to have condominiums above the hotel overlooking the river, so it just evolved into this project and has since taken on a life of its own,” said Kelly. “There was definitely a need for this kind of downtown living. I think we’ve struck the perfect balance between nature and urban lifestyle. You can walk across the street and have access to fishing and canoeing on the Red River as well as 99 miles of biking and hiking trails which lead to 3,000 acres of parks. Walk two blocks to the west and you’re in the urban downtown scene with restaurants, nightlife, shopping and theater.”

Developing partners Michael Kelly and Kevin Hall worked closely with design coordinator, Kathy Mawicke, Tim Leibl of Accent Contracting and architect Adam Peterson of Foss Architecture + Interiors to complete the life-like renderings of the stunning loft designs, with a plan to be completed by summer of 2019. With excitement for the new project and river view location, all nine of the penthouse units sold almost immediately; but not to worry, the remaining three floors have units that are still up for grabs. Here’s your sneak peek at what’s to come in the center of our city.

Here’s your sneak peek at what’s to come in the center of our city.

Communal Spaces + Amenities
“The top floor or Penthouse Vue, features a private work-out facility and private rooftop decks,” said Kelly. “On the second and third floors, there will be guest suites which residents will be able to reserve for visitors, holidays or weekends through the homeowners association. The ground floor or Plaza Vue will feature a workout facility, community lounge, kitchen and entertainment space with a pool table and TV area. Some of the additional amenities in this space will be determined by what the condo owners want in their space.” The two floors of units below the penthouse, the Grand and River Vues, will also have their own unique half-in, half-out balcony designed with sliding glass doors. All residents will have their own individual storage units and up to two heated, indoor parking spots and access to bike storage.

Top Floor | Top Notch
Residents in the penthouse condos will enjoy a stunning interior design with ceilings spanning 18 to 20 feet. “The most unique units are the top floor penthouse units,” said Peterson. “These are designed in a two-story layout which affords large, open spaces with a decorative stairwell that goes up to a loft where they can access the private, rooftop deck.”

“We went through a number of different options to make sure we could get the maximum views to the river and downtown,” said Peterson. “During the design process, we made sure that even at the ground floor or Plaza Vue, residents will still be able to see over the flood wall to the river.”

“This rooftop patio provides amazing views of Fargo and Moorhead downtowns as well as the river. The top roof decks of the penthouses and the balconies are still in design and will be determined soon,” explained Peterson. “The intent is to use a wood plank paver that ties into the wood used on the exterior.”

“During the design process, we made sure that even at the plaza ground level, residents will still be able to see over the new flood wall to the river.”
Adam Peterson, Foss Architecture + Interiors

Level Five Finishes
All units will have the default, level five finishes which Accent Contracting will be spearheading. After that, condo owners can customize their space however they would like with the help of personal consultations and design services provided by design coordinator Kathy Mawicke. While the penthouse units boast 18 and 20-foot ceilings, the remaining floors will also feature nearly 10-foot ceilings and spacious floor plans. “Foss Architecture designed the building envelope, floor plans, unit layouts, and created design renderings of what the units could look like. Each condo owner has their own distinctive style, however, and will work with FMI and Accent to select cabinets and finishes unique to their home,” said Peterson. “The floor plans are much larger than the typical condo or apartment unit. A standard two-bedroom ranges from 1,700 to 1,900 square feet with three-bedrooms available up to 2,500.”

“The City Centre Lofts team has been outstanding to work with. The finishes on the inside of the condo units right now are completely diverse,” said Tim Liebl of Accent Contracting. “Homeowners have the autonomy to select any color scheme that suits them. Right now, we are seeing soft grays mixed with dark taupe and black cabinets. The cabinets are about 50% frameless, 50% framed. The countertops are mostly quartz, with Cambria taking the lion’s share of the visuals so far.”

“City Centre Lofts is a premier downtown residence site. With the location centered between the river and downtown, it creates a fantastic blend of rural and urban design.”
Tim Liebl, Accent Contracting

Urban Landscape + Green Space
Residents at City Centre Lofts can take advantage of the planned green space on the property or make use of the city’s green spaces near the river. With the city’s future plans to provide an urban landscape park adjacent to the flood wall, the terrain and view will only keep getting better for City Centre Loft residents. “Eventually, they plan to create a landscaped corridor between City Hall and the City Centre Lofts, with walkways to the river. There’s also talk of designing a large green space to the east of the library,” said Peterson. Amongst the chatter is also potential plans to repurpose the existing civic center building into a performing arts center.

Exterior Ambiance
For the exterior, Foss Architecture and the FMI Team chose a dark brick and a maintenance free wood-grained cladding made to look like real western red cedar. “With the contrast of the warm wood against the black brick, it’s designed to have a more contemporary, Scandinavian look typically seen in Nordic regions with similar climates to ours,” said Peterson. “I think this will add a lot of warmth and character to the river location and a nice contrast against the white snow during those long winter months.” After dark, the lofts will play into the landscape, providing a lantern-like effect with its abundant glass, exterior lighting and sleek design. Residents can enter through their ground-level, heated and enclosed parking garage or through the secured public entrance and lobby on the north end.

In the Renaissance Zone
According to Kelly, being in the renaissance zone affords the owner of each condominium five years of property tax abatement, as well as five years of state income tax abatement valued at up to $10,000 a year. Prices of the units range from a spacious one-bedroom at around $219,000 to an array of larger units at around the $449,000 price point. With Fargo’s permanent flood protection now in place, an investment in this residence will be well protected.

“The City Centre Lofts support the city’s adopted strategic plans of bringing more housing to the Downtown Fargo area. This project fits nicely within our goal of integrating a unique mix of housing types and helps to build the number of households in support of Downtown Fargo as both a neighborhood and a destination.”
Nicole Crutchfield, Planning Director – City of Fargo

The City Centre Lofts Project: Timeline
Spring 2018 marked the start of construction!
-Phase 1 means first tackling the underground parking project for the city, with completion in the summer.
-Commence working drawings for Phase II of the residential units.
Spring 2018 – Final Phase II (Residential Shell) drawings from Foss architects are completed.
Summer 2018 – Framing begins.
Fall 2018-  Begin the exterior work on Phase II (residential shell).
Spring 2019 – Fit-ups begin for condos working from the top down.
Summer 2019 – Ready for closings and move in!

About FMI Team:
Kevin Hall’s family of companies is referred to as FMI which includes utilizing many of his branches such as FMI Construction, FMI Accounting and FMI Property Management. Michael Kelly is the sales arm of FMI while his wife, Lori Prokop assists in meeting with potential residents and ensures all documentation on the project is complete. Although Michael Kelly is an integral part of FMI Team, he is just as well-known for his role as a football coach at South Fargo High School for the past 34 years.

Fun Fact!
Formed in 1898, Foss Architecture + Interiors is the longest established architecture firm in all of North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. Several of their projects are listed on the  National Register of Historic Places.


Team + Credits
City Centre Lofts Partners – Kevin Hall, Michael Kelly
General Contractor – FMI Construction
Job Superintendent – Craig Erickson
Project Consultant – Mike Skatvold
Management Company – FMI Property Management
Director of Sales – Michael Kelly
Sales Assistant – Lori Prokop
Architect – Foss Architecture + Interiors
Finishes including kitchen, bath and fit-ups – Tim Leibl, Accent Contracting
Design Coordinator – Kathy Mawicke
Social Media Coordinator – Rebecca Kelly


For more information, contact:
Team FMI / City Centre Lofts
Michael Kelly
200 4th Avenue North Fargo





Foss Architecture + Interiors

Adam Peterson – Principal / Architect, AIA, LEED AP

810 First Avenue North, Fargo

adam@ fossarch.com

Accent Contracting
(A division of Accent Kitchen & Bath)
Tim Leibl
3151 Main Ave, Fargo




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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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