Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

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Category: Art

Unconventional Elements

Words by Tracy Nicholson House photos by Robb Siverson Photography Portrait of Trever Hill and Rebecca Knutson – J. Alan Paul Photography When Trever Hill explained his latest design project…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
House photos by Robb Siverson Photography
Portrait of Trever Hill and Rebecca Knutson – J. Alan Paul Photography

When Trever Hill explained his latest design project in Jamestown, N.D., melding traditional and contemporary stylings, we had to see this unlikely pairing for ourselves. After living in their home for eight years, Michel and Jay Grotrian were ready for a lower-level upgrade which would reflect their eclectic style and love of local art. Without the usual, marital decor squabbles, this couple was equally enthralled with both ends of the style spectrum and ready to get creative. Marrying the two vastly different tones, amidst an extensive basement remodel and complete demo, meant bringing in reinforcement. Before heading West, Hill called on designer Rebecca Knutson of Floor to Ceiling to collaborate, brainstorm and help define the space. See inside the Grotrian’s extraordinary entertainment space, custom-designed to give guests a glimpse of local talent and their native Jamestown flair.

Familiar with Hill’s past projects, the Grotrians were excited to see what kind of elements he could bring to their own space. After realizing the scope of the project, Hill decided to recruit Knutson, whom he knew would bring her expertise in flooring, tile and cabinetry.
As avid art collectors, the Grotrians worked closely with Hill and Knutson to fuse their styles and give every inch of their basement eclectic appeal.

“They’re not that transitional of people, as most would say,” said Hill. “They truly love both traditional and contemporary decor. Obviously, these are opposite ends of the spectrum, but they both pretty much have the same taste. It was such a pleasure working with them.”


“In my first meeting with the Grotrians, it was clear that we needed to have a wine cellar somewhere. They have a beautiful, curved stairwell that actually goes from the upstairs to the main floor then down to the lower, basement level,” explained Hill. “It’s a fantastic feature of the home. So, I thought, how amazing would it be to have a curved wine cellar under the stairwell and design smaller windows in between the beams.”

“We worked with Straightline Design to fabricate the interior wine storage and then decided to take it one step further and hang mini-pendant lighting that would show through the small windows. This added feature created a gorgeous focal wall for a seating area on the curved wall exterior,” said Hill. “For the seating area, we were able to use some of their existing furniture from Room & Board. We absolutely loved those two chairs that are in front of the wine cellar.”

“Michel and Jay definitely wanted the space to be ready for entertaining their friends as well as a cool family hangout space,” said Knutson. “There would need to be durable finishes for kids to play on and beverages and snacks to be served. Enter, the bar design. The size and octagon shape fills the space with plenty of standing and sitting room for guests to chat. We covered the walls in the bar with an amazing mosaic tile and tied it into the wine cellar area – a space the clients spoke passionately about from the beginning.”

“We collaborated with Straightline Design on the bar shelving making sure the metal details didn’t cover up too much of the mosaics,” said Knutson. “The cabinetry has the unique finish of a hand-brushed glaze and houses many appliances and electronic components behind hidden doors.”

“I wanted lights on the inside of the bar, shooting up onto the bar shelves, so we did glass shelves so the light really emanates through,” said Hill. Then we had puck lights installed above. The electrician initially had some concerns about this feature, but they are fully sealed and technically considered outdoor lighting, so we made it work.”RCS_6857.jpg

“All of our appliances and lighting came from Alisha Wiesshoff at Ferguson in Fargo. She’s been wonderful to work with,” said Hill. “For the flooring, we ran the laminate at a diagonal throughout the entire basement. We really wanted it to go with the line of the octagon. We also chose beautiful, Cambria countertops and hanging pendant lights that have a handblown glass effect. I really like these because each one is different and has its own unique dimension of color. I really thought these were true to the Grotrian’s style. There’s is so much that’s handmade in this home.”

“In addition to the bar and wine cellar, the Grotrians wanted this space to feature a theater and game room with shuffleboard and ping pong,” said Hill. “I felt it needed a focal wall, so I did Phillip Jeffries wall covering along with two sconces flanking the theater screen. We found our theater seats from FourSeating.com. We didn’t do elevation in the theater like you’d normally see, so we chose Four Seating because they have seats that come in three different levels of elevation.”

“We wanted to have a bar looking into the theater on each side, so there’s a walkway in the middle and bar height counter on each side,” explained Hill. “Throughout the house and the traditional features, they have arches everywhere. So, I really wanted these pillars to have arches as well. They’re very stately, so you can’t miss them. Trying to find a way to give them some personality, I came up with an idea to add the drink rail around them and use the lit, inset area to display the same Phillip Jeffries, metallic wall covering we had used on the accent wall. I thought this was such a great feature and really serves to anchor the room.”

“We also did a guest bathroom and included a shower just in case they ever wanted to make their pool table room into a bedroom with the existing egress window,” said Hill.

For the Love of Art
“Trever and I road tripped to the client’s home last fall where I fell in love with Michel and Jay’s colorful style and love of art,” said Knutson. “We knew from then on that we needed to pack a punch into this entertainment space and tie in details with their main floor finishes.”

“The pieces that you see on the left of the wine cellar are handblown glass, they’re through McNeal & Friends, but they’re from a company called Global Views. All of their pieces are handmade,” said Hill. “There’s a story behind each piece and artisan. Also, you’ll notice when you come down the stairs, next to the bar is a piece from local artist, Steve Knutson. This was a piece that I had found at his art exhibit at Abovo in Downtown Fargo. It was kind of a fun play, because of Jay’s career, they do have people that come from out of town and visit and I thought it was kind of a fun play on Jamestown’s buffalo heritage.”

Running down the hallway, on the other wall closest to the theater, we’ve chosen Jessica Wachter paintings,” said Hill. “Those are some of the mixed-media pieces that she had displayed at her Scottsdale, Arizona residency and I just knew that they had to be in here.”

“Your art does not have to match your home, however, I felt that Jessica and Steve’s works were a fun pop of color, yet still coordinated beautifully and made it a cohesive space,” said Hill. “They have so many Walter Piehls up here in the space – in fact, the Grotrians are the largest Walter Piehls private dealer besides Microsoft.”

Collaboration & Creativity
“Rebecca and I have been collaborating now for a little while and it’s been amazing working with her,” said Hill. “It made the process much easier, being able to choose and order the flooring, countertops, cabinetry, tile and backsplash, all through her at Floor to Ceiling.

“My design studio staff at Floor to Ceiling Carpet One is an integral part of our process,” said Knutson. “We provide 3-D renderings and hand sketches to best explain our designs. My assistant, Shannon Simon, supports the design process on all levels including tile and flooring quoting, ordering and scheduling. Krystal Andersen inputs all of our ideas into our cabinetry design program and assists with ordering, while our design intern creates the 3-D renderings of the entire space. It’s an awesome experience to watch all of these creative people come together to give our clients the best experience possible by showing them every angle of the design intent. This is definitely a highlight of how we function in our Design Studio, in conjunction with the large showroom at our fingertips.”

“Trever and I had so much fun exploring finish options for this project together,” said Knutson. “Our team is a well-oiled machine and we have meshed so well with Trever. He is so imaginative in his selections and we really work well together when we collaborate on projects,” said Knutson. “Through my project management role, we were able to design and install the complete project in a timeline that allowed the Grotrians to host their first party, just in time for March Madness.”

Find the Finishes:
Appliances and lighting – Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
Main flooring – Engineered vinyl plank by Shaw, Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Mosaic tile for bar and wine cellar walls – Daltile, Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Bar cabinetry – Décor Cabinets, clear alder, painted with hand-wiped glaze – Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Bar, drink rails, and bathroom countertops – Cambria Quartz, Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Bathroom flooring and shower tile – Syverson Tile
Metal fabrication – Straightline Design
Bathroom cabinetry – Omega Cabinetry, Maple with a painted finish, Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Hardware – Vintage nickel finish, Floor to Ceiling Carpet One
Wall covering – Phillip Jeffries, McNeal & Friends
Chairs – Room & Board
Cowhide rug – Eco Chic Boutique
Bar stools – McNeal & Friends
Theater chairs – FourSeating.com

For more information, contact:
Trever Hill Design

Floor to Ceiling Carpet One

Rebecca Knutson, CID
360 36th Street South, Fargo
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Stop Playing with Your Food

Words and photos by Anastasia de Celle In a whimsically appetizing print exhibition at the Spirit Room in downtown Fargo, artist Anna Kohnen explores childhood humor and the behavioral tendencies…

Words and photos by Anastasia de Celle

In a whimsically appetizing print exhibition at the Spirit Room in downtown Fargo, artist Anna Kohnen explores childhood humor and the behavioral tendencies which change as we become adults. Her series of three prints entitled, Stop Playing with Your Food, delves into the theory of how devouring a simple childhood snack like animal crackers can become a metaphor for the growing complexity of adulthood. Earlier this year, I spent a few days with her as she created one of the pieces, Circle of Life, taking it from concept to final edition.

Why Animal Crackers? 

As she was drawing out Circle of Life on the computer, I asked, “Why animal crackers? Where did the concept for this come from?” She smiled and explained how she noticed a difference between how children and adults eat animal crackers.

“I was doing various research on snacks from my childhood. I noticed specifically with animal crackers, adults and children eat them very differently. Children eat them without thought, like how they eat every other snack. But with adults, there is a trend that the act of eating an animal cracker takes conscious thought and could even question morals. I noticed that the adults were consciously eating animal crackers by first biting off the head, then the limbs, and then whatever is left of the cracker. I thought this was interesting, as well as horrifying – the fact that people will choose to eat a cracker in this calculated manner. I thought that this vast difference of eating an animal cracker was compelling and this fits in perfectly with my exploration of childhood versus adulthood research.”

Circle of Life 

I asked about the overall concept of her series. On cue, like she was reading from a script, she answered without pause: “Stop Playing with Your Food is a print series that explores the relationship between childish wonder, growing up and looking back on ‘better’ days. The series reflects a nostalgic state of being blissfully unaware by distorting childhood associations of objects and circumstances.”

“Through the use of common and iconic imagery, the viewer can connect with situations adults might interpret one way through the naivety and simplified vision of a child. These works aim to pair a sense of reality with a cartoonish style to reflect the curiosity, reasoning and ideas of these two groups. Stop Playing with Your Food emphasizes the skewed reality that results from memory and reflection.”

I replied with something along the lines of, “Wow, you’ve got that down word-for-word.” Kohnen, who just graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art from NDSU, laughed and said, “Well, that’s what happens when you go to critique every single week for a year.”

Coffee Before Crackers

After spending a couple days working on her digital drawing, she finally came up with a design she was happy with. Now, it was on to the second phase of her process: printing. Kohnen’s medium of focus is printmaking while specializing in screen printing. But before heading over to the studio, she needed to run a very important errand – a coffee run. “Printing is a long process, coffee is a crucial point in that process, and for life in general,” explained Kohnen.

With the much-needed coffee bought and brewed, we headed over to NDSU’s Renaissance Hall where she spent an hour prepping her screen for printing. I asked her why she had chosen printmaking as her medium; why not something else? “I chose printmaking because it allows me to work fast and it gives me a result that is unique to the medium. Through the process of working with layers, I get to react to the piece as I’m printing it. There is always unexpected problem-solving involved in the printing process that creates a result that I could never plan and I like the results of it. Screen printing helps express my content because the medium is very bold and graphic by nature. That style fits in with my aesthetic and fits with the iconic imagery that I’m working with.”

Food for Thought

As I watched her print, I finally understood what she meant. As she worked, she was reacting to how the ink behaved depending on what material she printed on. The way the previous layer printed affected how she would print the next layer. The image she first created on the computer was now a completely different entity. The resulting image had taken on a whole new life. Just like her childhood inspiration, maybe Kohnen has stumbled upon a life worth savoring, one delicious crumb at a time.

About the Artist
Kohnen is an artist who works in printmaking and drawing, originally from Corcoran, Minnesota. She is an active artist in the Fargo-Moorhead area and has pieces in the Plains Art Museum archive. Kohnen was awarded NDSU’s Marguerite Scholar Tollefson and the Wayne Tollefson Scholarships for excellence in studio work in 2017. In 2018 Kohnen will graduate with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Meet the Artist!
Stop Playing with Your Food is a print exhibition by artist Anna Kohnen currently on display at the Spirit Room in Downtown Fargo. There will be an artist’s reception on Thursday, June 7 at 7 p.m., artist’s talk at 7:30 p.m. Exhibition hours are 1:00-5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday through June 16th.Kohnen is producing the three prints from Stop Playing with Your Food in limited editions of 15 each. Prints can be ordered at the exhibition until sold out.For more information, contact:

Instagram: akohnen

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Canvassing the City with ArtPrize

Words by Jessica Wachter Photography courtesy of ArtPrize With the new year in full-swing, it’s a great time to not only revisit your health goals, but also get excited about…

Words by Jessica Wachter
Photography courtesy of ArtPrize

With the new year in full-swing, it’s a great time to not only revisit your health goals, but also get excited about the new experiences waiting for you in 2018. Maybe you’ll take up a new hobby, maybe a new sport? One thing’s for sure, this is the time of year to start dreaming about your travel plans. It’s easy to think you need to travel far to get a unique and memorable experience. If you’re interested in a trip centered around art, you might even think you need to travel to New York or Europe. The reality is there’s a gem waiting for you, right here in the Midwest.

ArtPrize is an art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan for 19 days each autumn. It features a variety of artists from around the world, ranging from well- established, to up-and-coming. The art they create for this competition is specific to location. In other words, the space they’ve been given or have chosen to show their work in plays into the art they create for the event. Art is shown in a wide variety of locations throughout Grand Rapids – from your typical museum setting to the totally unexpected, like a laundromat or within a body of water.

Canvassing the City

The whole city not only becomes a canvas for artists, but also a playground for viewers. ArtPrize has a very welcoming feel. You aren’t expected to be an expert in fine art. It’s okay if you’re someone who isn’t usually comfortable in the museum setting because this event makes art accessible and interesting to people from all walks of life.

Artists in Action
Another unique aspect of ArtPrize is being able to watch so many artists in action. Not only do you get to interact with many of the artists, personally, but some artists even create art on the spot. I gave Chris Vitiello the word “essence” when I was at ArtPrize this past October and he gave me this one-lined poem as a piece of art I could take home with me.

One artist that really caught my attention was Rena Detrixhe. She creates red-carpet rugs that are of an immense scale and full of symbolism and beauty, not to mention hours of careful labor. Her creation for ArtPrize was site-specific. Meaning, it could not be transported. I felt so much beauty in the fact that her creation was temporary – she was creating for the sake of creating. The impermanence of her work made me feel as though, as a viewer, I was getting a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Awarding Creativity
The reason this event has the title of, “ArtPrize” is because the artists have an opportunity to win a large sum of money. The artists are narrowed down to 40 finalist…twenty “people’s choice” artists, chosen from public votes, and twenty juried artists. From this group of 40, two artists win $200,000 USD each and $100,000 USD is disbursed to many different artists for small category awards. This brings the award-money grand total to $500,000 USD. Prize money comes from many sources including, corporate sponsors and state and federal support.

It’s uplifting to think of all the value that comes from this event. It is of benefit for so many…the artists, the sponsors, the city and the viewers. As an artist myself, it was incredibly inspiring to be in such close proximity to so many other creative minds. Their passion and talent were contagious. Even though the event is long past now and all remnants of the artist’s work are taken away, the essence of ArtPrize has left a mark on my mind and heart.

Whether you are an artist or not, you can’t help but feel the palpable energy and swirl of synergy that comes from so many artists and viewers in one concentrated space. To get swept up in the colors and scale for yourself, start making your travel plans now for next year’s event.

Jessica Wachter Art


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Vintage Winter

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography You may remember Vonda and Jim Leiner from last month’s issue when we showcased their fall design while they hosted…

Words by Tracy Nicholson

Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography

You may remember Vonda and Jim Leiner from last month’s issue when we showcased their fall design while they hosted a dinner with their brick-fire pizza oven. This time, we’re back to give you a glimpse of their winter wonderland. Every year, the Leiners decorate their home, not just for the holidays, but as an ode to the entire winter season. They love to entertain and guests equally love to visit, exploring the couple’s seasonally-changing decor and rare, vintage finds.

Inspired by Winter 
When it comes to the holidays, the Leiners believe that each and every room should have a touch of winter wonderland. “It’s for us just as much as it is for entertaining,” said Vonda Leiner. “People usually can’t believe that we have our tree’s lights on so early, but to me, they’re just lights. I don’t think of it as just for Christmas. So, for the winter months, I kind of prefer more of a winter scene.”

One of the features Vonda Leiner is most excited about this year is her dining room centerpieces comprised of an unexpected item, repurposed tree stands, painted white. Only one is a newer version, while the other two are rare vintage finds.

Their centerpiece isn’t the only unexpected decor. If you look closely at the table runner, you’ll see that Vonda Leiner used shipping paper that is typically used for wrapping fragile items. They also love changing out the decor on the large branch hanging over their dining table. For the winter months, each branch is adorned with a mix of new and vintage snowflake crystals. To the Leiners, anything and everything is capable of architectural artistry.

The Leiner’s massive, vintage pendant lights came out of the old Dayton’s department store. Vonda Leiner worked there for about 20 years and when they were going through remodels, employees were offered a chance to bid on various items.

“It’s not your normal looking kitchen because there aren’t a lot of cabinets,” said Vonda Leiner. “Most of the storage is hidden.” The drawers below the authentic, brick oven pull out to hold approximately 500 pounds. The butcher block island is solely comprised of pull-out storage and the refrigerator is hidden behind the knotty alder facade. Jim Leiner, a custom cabinetmaker at Wood Specialists for over 30 years, specially designed the commercial-size sink to include cutting boards while creating a special baking section for Vonda Leiner which simplifies clean up. There’s a hidden TV, microwave and two dishwasher drawers. Every bit of cabinetry and all of the custom finishes were designed and completed by the Leiners.

“With Jim being able to build the cabinets and do all of the finish work, that really helps us be able to live in this type of home. Anything that you can do yourself like the flooring, landscaping, painting – that’s an investment. This house comes from a lot of nights, holidays and weekends of hard work,” said Vonda Leiner.

“Winter is my favorite time of year, so I love when the snowflakes are sticking to the outside of this window. I try to bring that snowy look inside,” said Vonda Leiner. Lending a snowy facade to her kitchen window, these pots were once brown, terracotta that she painted white and finished with glitter to match the painted deer stags overlooking her wooded backyard.

Repurposing the Past
“Jim and I love going to flea markets. That clock is actually an old picnic table, then we found the hinges at another place and thought, why wouldn’t these hinges be cool as the quarters on the hour, then get a clock kit and put it together? I also have a lot of things from family,” said Vonda Leiner. “I like things with Karma and I think there’s a spirit that they give from the past.” For holiday decor, Vonda Leiner kept it natured-inspired with pinecones, trees, deer stags, white lights and greens.

Ski Lodge Love
If you’re a guest to their home, you’ll notice several Maplelag prints, vintage skis and various nods to winter lodges. Jim Leiner grew up in Montana and these pieces represent a small remnant of his past and a beautiful inspiration to them both.
Vonda Leiner’s winter vibe begins in the fall when she changes out the yellow, floral “summer pillows” for warmer throws and ski lodge-inspired, cross pillows.

With the high ceilings in their family room, the Leiner’s use a vintage, red-painted table to elevate their Christmas tree to new heights. At the base of the tree, they incorporated a galvanized tub to hide the tree stand.

Just off of the kitchen and past the antique, red doors the Leiners display an array of vintage and antique chippy items, her mom’s artwork and a winter-inspired mix of pillows with Kriss Lecocq’s grommet adorned linen pillows.

The Leiners found the powder room’s vanity at an antique store in Stillwater, S.D. For a different vibe, they installed a tin ceiling and salvaged shutters. Vonda Leiner happened upon the shutters en route to the dumpster, while working at Scheels Home & Hardware years ago. “For us, our style is just us and it evolves over time, we don’t go to the furniture store and buy the set,” explained Vonda Leiner.

“For the office, we just tried to decorate it more like a library or a men’s club, so that’s why I did the pheasant feathers and pinecones,” said Vonda Leiner. Jim Leiner built the elaborate ceilings and knotty alder built-in details that can be converted to a guest bedroom with a murphy bed. The desk is said to be from a train station in Sioux Falls, S.D and the vintage, leather chair is from an antique store in Arizona. Elaborate stained glass and antique windows accent the more masculine space. “I did a special wallpaper technique in this room and we used 10-inch-wide, plank floors that we hand-drilled and hand-hammered old-fashioned, square nailheads into. Then we took chains and pry bars to distress the wood.”

Winter Warmth
“In the winter, decorating for me is kind of like how we dress, we layer things more. So, in the spring I take down some of those layers and replace the winter pillows with floral pillows. I worked with Julie Alin for a little while at Scheels Home & Hardware and she and I were once managers at Dayton’s. The design department at Scheels used to call me “Mrs. Waverly” because I like mixing fabrics and patterns,” laughed Vonda Leiner.

In the entry, the Leiners repurposed an old dentist table underneath a beautiful, cross-stitched art piece crafted by Vonda Leiner’s sister. If you noticed the jars on the floor, you’re probably wondering why. “We feed our squirrels and they’ll come up and eat peanuts right out of our hands. So, our little friend Karly lives next door and she always wants to eat the squirrel’s peanuts, so we finally got a jar just for her,” laughed Vonda Leiner.

In the style of an outdoor kitchen, complete with crown molding, the Leiners have a grill with custom hood venting, popcorn maker that Jim Leiner refurbished as well as a chef’s chalkboard. The Leiner’s Diner neon sign was a gift from a neighbor. “Jim should get just as much credit in the design, he’s very creative and has an eye for art, design and scale,” said Vonda Leiner.

On the porch, you might notice a large tree branch as an architectural focal point. When the Leiners were first building their home, they saw that their neighbors were cutting down trees and they asked if they could have it for their decor.

In the planters, Vonda Leiner uses galvanized pipe, real berries, greens from Hornbacher’s and oversized pinecones. To warm up their outdoor spaces, the Leiners use blankets they found in the military surplus section at Fleet Farm. “Our old neighbors and longtime friends cut boughs for us out at their lake cabin. So I put these greens everywhere and up in the beams in the entry,” said Vonda Leiner.

“We were at an auction and we saw this mailbox, it used to hang on a building. We actually had to go outside and call the U.S. government to make sure that we could use this as a mailbox. As long as it’s at the right code height and distance from the road, they were fine with it,” explained Vonda Leiner.

In the backyard, Jim Leiner used two sizes of galvanized, stock tanks to create a fire pit, complete with a permanent gas line from the house. Pink winter berries and green boughs accent vintage, metal pots leading to the back patio.

A Labor of Love
“I’ve never followed what’s happening in the design world. Jim and I have never built a house for resale. We build it to what we want to do, then if it sells it sells. And with this house, I didn’t want when people walked in, for them to be able to say, “Oh, that was built in 2009,” based on the trends. We actually built this in 2004. If you noticed on the front porch, we have the galvanized tin up on the ceilings and in our back sunroom off of our bedroom, we have sliding barn doors. We tried to do a different ceiling in every room. So, I kind of feel like we were doing some of these things before they were trendy,” laughed Vonda Leiner.

“This is our fifth home and we started with a 90-year-old home in North Fargo. When Jim and I first got married, we didn’t know that we could do this together,” said Vonda Leiner. We just started and the latter four houses we’d design, then have a contractor get us to the sheetrock, and after that, we’d physically do everything ourselves; landscaping, sprinklers, decks and basement. We’ve put our hearts and souls into it. I don’t want to just say it’s a house that somebody built. It was really built with love and every ounce of sweat, energy and tears. “

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Design & Discuss with J.D. Shotwell, Shotwell Floral & Greenhouses

Words by J.D. Shotwell, Tracy Nicholson Photos by M. Schleif Photography With Holiday entertaining in full-swing, we thought it was time to show off the latest and greatest trends in…

Words by J.D. Shotwell, Tracy Nicholson
Photos by M. Schleif Photography

jd shotwell midwest nest magazineWith Holiday entertaining in full-swing, we thought it was time to show off the latest and greatest trends in seasonal tablescapes. To answer some of the most common questions, I gathered our design and floral experts to help piece together the perfect holiday table including ideas for a side table buffet, DIY tips and a quick design discussion on mixing metals for the holidays.


Tablescape Trends 101
The plaid runner and cloth napkins are a really popular choice this year. Plaid as a fabric is very on-trend right now, but this one is done in more neutral tones of grey and tan, so it’s a little more versatile than the usual red and black. If you change out your floral and other accents, this version can transition through really, any time of year. The pattern also leans toward a farmhouse style when you pair it with galvanized metal napkin rings and chargers. Since the team used primarily neutrals for the base and accents on this table, they decided to give it a pop of bold color with a mass of classic, red roses.

Get the Look:
Plaid napkins and runner
Rose and seeded Eucalyptus centerpiece
Twig design candelabras
Wood bark cross-section chargers
Galvanized, metal chargers and napkin rings
Rolf glass – decor wine glass (middle displayed)
Glass cloche with metal base
Rustic wood dining table
Faux fur pillow
Lambswool pillow
Frosted berries and fresh pine
Four potted pines
Two rustic, white metal doves

Seasonal Side Table
Get the Goods:
Mudpie white ceramic mini loaf pan
Mudpie chrome and acorn-adorned snack server
Mudpie mini tidbit plates
TAG Red snowflake, hand-warmer mugs
Wool, Santa gnome, wine-topper
16.5″ pine tree with plaid base
Two-tiered, wood, tree bark server
Nora Fleming acorn mini-adorned artisan board
Laser-cut and burlap, pine trees
Mulling Spices
Decorative red bells



Setting the Table
Tip #1: Fabric is at the forefront.
When prepping your tablescape, start from the bottom-up. Find a linen, runner, fabric or napkin that you like and start with that. Then go up, choosing a charger and dishware to compliment your linens. We recommend the galvanized metal chargers and napkin rings this season. They work well with so many different linens.

Tip #2: Build your tablescape from the center.
Once you’ve chosen your linens, start building your tablescape from the center out, keeping in mind the size of the table. Figure out what type of floral or centerpiece you want, then start accessorizing outward with smaller items like candles and something organic like sprigs of greenery or pinecones. Many years ago, at a design school, my mother, Annette Shotwell, was told that when you put your elbow on the table, the bulk of the centerpiece should not be above your wrist. It can be a taller centerpiece, but keep it lighter at the top, maybe using simple twigs or something that guests can still see around.

Tip #3: Bold is always beautiful.
Consider classic, red roses for your centerpiece. Roses are not usually the first flower associated with Christmas, but when they’re grouped closely together, it really creates a fantastic pop of color for the dining table in that classic, Christmas red. They are a perfect compliment to pine accents and neutral palettes. Another unexpected pairing we’ve seen is pink roses with Christmas greens. It’s a really interesting combination that stands out.

Tip #4: Trim the wick.
Candles are always a popular accent when entertaining, but make sure you trim the wick down before lighting. A shorter flame will save your candles from burning too quickly and help keep the soot to a minimum.

Tip #5: Organic and earthy adds interest.
Make sure your tablescape has an interesting array of textures. As you can see, we’ve used a mix of metal, glass and other textures with our trees, doves and servers. Using a straw-like table runner like you see on the side table can give you a more inviting and informal look. Even on our more formal tablescape, we incorporated sprigs of fresh pine and berries to add earthy interest. Organic textures mix well with bolder, more colorful elements.

Tip #6: Spruce up your napkin game.
Once you’ve found a great napkin ring, go the extra mile and “spruce” up your presentation with fresh or faux greens. If you go the fresh route, you can either visit a greenhouse or head outside to your own backyard and clip small pieces off to use within your napkin rings. Just make sure that if you use fresh, you wait until the day-of to clip them so they look their best. Tucking in twigs and berries also works really well to complete the presentation.

Tip #7: Neutrals love texture and color.
Consider adding cozy elements like faux fur pillows or throws in different, winter-inspired textures to your dining table area. These can work well in both cool and warm, neutral tones. Keeping these elements in the neutral family will let your bold centerpiece pop.

Tip #8: Don’t have tunnel vision.
Once your tablescape is complete, don’t forget to look above your table. Your chandelier or pendants can easily be adorned with wreaths, ribbon, scrappy garland, sprigs of fresh greenery, berries or pine. If you have pendants, you can start at the ceiling coming down the cord with garland or just keep it simple and wrap cut pieces of garland around the top portion of the light.

Tip #9: Be a gracious guest.
While making the rounds on the holiday circuit, don’t forget to show appreciation for the hosts. Our team loves these felted-wool wine toppers, TAG hand-warmer mugs and Mudpie tidbit plates for our own parties, but they also double as fantastic hostess gifts. Each of these gifts can include a little extra like mulling spices in the mug, a great bottle of wine with the Santa wine topper or a fun cheese, dessert or cracker with the tidbit plates. The artisan board by Nora Fleming is also very popular. The acorn, ceramic “mini” comes off and can be replaced with one of her 90 other themed minis.

Holiday Trends: Mixing Metals
Not only can gold, silver and bronze work well together but varying your textures and tones can give your design a timeless appeal. To show you just a few of our favorite textures and metals in holiday decor, our team pieced together two fun displays that will keep your holidays shining brightly.

Heavy Metal Holiday
Display #1
Our first display mixes crystal, mercury glass, white glass and vintage silver for a striking, cooler-toned combination. Keeping it monotone with the white roses and lilies, this display shows more of a high-end, formal approach. To contrast the white, we chose pops of color in an organic form, using sprigs of pine, eucalyptus and pine cones. Any of these items can be clustered together for a buffet table, formal dining room, side table or foyer.

Display #2
Our second display shows a variation of warmer tones, from vintage and bronze to bright and shimmery golds. One trend we saw a lot at market is the use of old golds like the vase on the left. To complement the variation of golds, the team used a rich, velvet-textured and gold garland, in addition to fresh pine. We loved how the vintage, gold pear and apples look surrounded by pine. The gold deer stag and gold leaf platter have also been popular items for the holidays. Use the taller pieces for your sideboard or buffet, and the shorter pieces for your centerpiece or accenting around the taller elements.

J.D. Shotwell

Shotwell Floral & Greenhouses
4000 40th St. S., Fargo

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Design + Discuss with Grain Designs

Words by Grant Koenig and Blain Mikkonen Photos by Grant Koenig, Dan Francis Photography, Kuda Photography, Nick Friesen Photography, and Shawn Thomas Creative For those that aren’t yet familiar with…

Words by Grant Koenig and Blain Mikkonen

Photos by Grant Koenig, Dan Francis Photography, Kuda Photography, Nick Friesen Photography, and Shawn Thomas Creative

For those that aren’t yet familiar with us, Grain Designs is based in Fargo, N.D. and started out of a joint passion to build and develop new ideas through furniture making. As designers, our minds are in constant pursuit of inspiration and Grain Designs became our outlet to create tangible products out of ideas. We also quickly realized that the furniture market was over-saturated with poorly made, generic pieces and we knew that we could provide something better. We don’t believe in buying new things day after day or year after year, we want the products that we create to hold value and function for years to come. Quality to us means everything and is more important now, than ever.

grain design fargo


Why reclaimed wood?
By choosing to work with reclaimed wood it has taught us to be mindful of the resources we have. This has enabled us to breathe new life into seemingly useless materials giving us the ability to provide a meaningful product and experience unlike anything else.

Fall’s Most Popular Products

grain designs fargoThe Frederick Farmhouse Table
Typically built with reclaimed floor joists out of barns or warehouses, this table has become a staple product for us and is continuing to evolve as design styles change.


The Sliding Barn Door 
This product has taken on a life of its own and has found so many more applications than we had originally imagined. They are most commonly used to replace existing swing doors however we have used them as window shades, large room partitions and even doors on dog kennels.

grain designs fargo


Custom Desks
Work spaces have become so much more flexible, and this had created a whole new market for us in both the home and business industry. The custom desks that we have designed are truly built with the user in mind and have featured everything from hidden whiskey storage to full magnetic, steel wall features.
Instagram Inspiration
In our constant pursuit of new ideas, we find inspiration from businesses across the country and throughout the Midwest, combining their ideas with our own local flavor. Here are a few outstanding businesses that are worth the follow.

Junkyard Brewing Company

This Moorhead, M.N. based brewing company has set out to not only create a delicious product but to facilitate a customer experience unlike any other. Stop by their Taproom in North Moorhead and get inspired with their weekly rotation of experimental beers and live music.


Jordan Iverson Signature Homes 

Three words describe this Eugene, Oregon home builder; architect, designer, visionary. It’s not hard to be inspired by Iverson’s fusion of modern and traditional design elements, materials and color palettes.

Workshop Denver 

Owner Brad Weiman started his Denver, C.O. venture as a construction and concrete furniture company, but over the past five years, they’ve grown to become much more. These days they are a design + build, construction and project management company that specializes in custom features. Follow them to see their take on creative applications of concrete and wood in countertops, custom wood cabinets and floating staircases in their portfolio of over 60 spec homes.


Contact us:
(by appointment only)
6218 53rd Ave S., Fargo, N.D.

(by appointment only)
4487 165th Ave SE, Davenport, N.D.

Blain Mikkonen

Grant Koenig

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It has been just under one year since North Dakota native, David Borlaug, along with the Lewis and Clark Foundation, opened Capital Gallery in downtown Bismarck. This gallery is a…

It has been just under one year since North Dakota native, David Borlaug, along with the Lewis and Clark Foundation, opened Capital Gallery in downtown Bismarck. This gallery is a gem not only for the community, but also for the state and the Midwest, at large. It’s an absolutely beautiful space for artists to showcase their work, and whether you’re a community member or a tourist, it’s definitely a destination worth seeking out. The space is large and open, allowing guests to step back from the everyday hustle and bustle, and breathe in some colors and inspiration.

I am so honored to currently be showing my work at this exceptional gallery through the end of 2017. After nearly a decade of being a professional artist, this is my first show in my hometown of Bismarck. This solo exhibition is entitled #nowords.


I don’t know about you, but it took me awhile to figure out hashtags. In fact, I had to ask a friend to give me a tutorial. She explained, “Hashtags can either be used as a tool to be witty or as a way to categorize a post.” My response was, “Wow, these things really communicate more than I thought!”


Single statements, or a single word in some cases, with the pound sign in front of it, can completely change the essence of a photo you’re viewing or change your mind about what you’re reading. Hashtags can spark a new conversation and a new perspective. At our fingertips is an abundance of ways to communicate; online, offline, this app, that app, emails, handwritten greeting cards, you name it. What an exciting time and place we live in.

For me, communication is much more than words and how they’re delivered. Life inspires me to look around, to be present, and to soak up the sights, sounds and smells. Life motivates me to question, “How do I color this?” rather than, “How do I put this into words?” That is someone else’s gift.

The best language I know how to speak is through texture and scale, movement and color on a canvas. The decisions I make about the scale of my canvases are part of the communication I want to create between myself and you as the viewer. When a painting has large scale, it is bigger than you. Part of the joy of these pieces is getting lost in the work. You can get closer to the art and see more.

Some of the pieces on display in the gallery have been months in the making, some I’ve been working on for several years. In all reality, my whole life got me to the point where I’m able to create the way I’m creating now. So, you could say, this show has been thirty-plus years in the making. As a viewer, my hope is that you’ll feel powerful energy and a new-found rhythm in me as an artist when you walk through the gallery.

Perhaps the most important thing I’d love to communicate with #nowords is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to what you see in my art. This new body of work is me loving to be alive, grateful for this life. All the pieces work collectively to reflect that. Which is why, when people ask me to talk about my art or bring words to it, I always hesitate. It is difficult for me to definitively express my passion for this art and this life, so don’t be surprised if I respond, “There are no words.” #nowords

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