Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

Culture, Entertaining, and Home Design

Category: Design

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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[ Inside the New ] McNeal & Friends

Sisters, Rondi McGovern and Shelly Neal opened their home boutique, McNeal & Friends nearly six years ago on Broadway in Downtown Fargo. With a focus on high-end design services and…

Sisters, Rondi McGovern and Shelly Neal opened their home boutique, McNeal & Friends nearly six years ago on Broadway in Downtown Fargo. With a focus on high-end design services and exclusive furniture lines, their business quickly blossomed. This year, McNeal & Friends made the move South to the Shoppes at BLU Water Creek. Going from 1,900 square feet to 5,000 meant doubling their staff and expanding their inventory. With the expansion came a stunning new showroom and complete design studio offering a fresh new take on home decor.

From Left; Jayne Wilson, Bree Duval, Shelly Neal, Kendra Steffes, Rondi McGovern, Desirae Putnam, Pam Miller. Not shown, Trever Hill, Sydney Fritz, Holly Peterson, and Chase Nishek and Nancy Bong.

Although Neal and McGovern longed to keep their roots planted in Downtown Fargo amidst the excitement of Broadway, the reality was that they needed more space for their expanding furniture lines and design studio. “We really wanted to stay downtown, but after months of searching, we just couldn’t find the right combination of accessibility and parking for moving furniture in and out of the store,” said Neal. “We heard about the Shoppes at BLU Water Creek and the women-centric shops that would be in this area and realized that it might be a great fit.” The new space would offer a high-visibility location while doubling their square footage.

Neal and McGovern have found that both of their passions are necessary to running a successful business. Neal manages the designers and studio while McGovern handles the store’s business and accounting. Besides Neal, they currently employ two other designers, Jayne Wilson and Trever Hill, along with six team members who handle retail layout, inventory and management of the store.


Whether you’re looking to browse or gain guidance on a design project, McNeal & Friends welcomes both shoppers and design clients in one location. Shoppers will find their entire staff is quite knowledgeable in the array of furnishings and decor, with two of their retail associates currently enrolled in design courses at NDSU. To find their unique accessories, dishware, linens and furnishings, the team routinely travels to Market in North Carolina, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Their travels bring home over 100 high-style lines once thought to only be carried in larger cities.

McNeal & Friends carries sought-after Michael Aram gift and collector items, as well as dishware by Vietri, Simon Pearce, Juliska and their newest line, Farmhouse Pottery. Just in time for summer, a must-see is Juliska’s new melamine and acrylic collection which is perfect for patio and poolside dining.

Hand-poured Lafco, Nest and Mer-Sea & Co. candles can be found throughout the showroom. Artwork in an array of styles features the silver-framed work of Soicher Marin and Shadow Catchers’ vintage collection of swim caps.

Please Sit on the Furniture
“Although we loved the old store, we didn’t have the space to carry enough styles for people to try out and actually be able to sit on and experience in-person. Here, we’ve been able to bring in a lot more options so our clients can try it before they buy it and feel confident in placing special orders for furnishings,” said McGovern. Guests can expect to browse an eclectic mix of styles from Lee Industries, Highland House, Four Hands, Hickory Chair, Gabby Home, Palacek and Bunakara, with luxury linens by Amity Home and Pine Cone Hill.

“We have a really unique chandelier line that can’t be found anywhere else in town, Ro Sham Beaux,” said Wilson. “This line has a lot of beautiful detail in the hardware and brass. They also use sustainable and recycled materials such as hemp, organic cotton and beads. Anything that you see with the signature tassel on is Ro Sham Beaux.”

“We’ve expanded on our coffee table and cookbooks as well as our tote line by Graf & Lantz. We love their felt, wool tote bags with leather handles,” said Wilson. “We also carry Mer-Sea & Co. wraps and ponchos which are really nice for the beach or traveling because you can fold it into the bag and use it as a pillow.” Accessories and gift items can be found throughout the showroom with unique items from Mainly Baskets, Chilewich, Sugarboo & Co. and new this year, gorgeous shell and bone bead sets from Bliss Studio.

Design Studio
“Our new design studio has everything in it from fabric samples to Phillip Jeffries wallpaper, Hunter Douglas window coverings, carpet, rugs and more,” said designer, Jayne Wilson. “Now customers or designers can come in and pull fabrics themselves and really use our studio.”

“Although we have access to just about any line a client could want, we don’t place limits on our designers to stay within the store’s inventory,” said Neal. “It’s just about creating spaces that speak to the individual. Trever and Jayne do a wonderful job working with and really understanding their clients.”

In their studio, guests are welcome to browse fabric options and upholstery from high-style lines like Lee Industries, CR Laine, Highland House and Kravet. The new space also features many different rug and carpet options. “Dash & Albert is one we work with a lot, but we also offer Jaipur, Kravet and Ellen DeGeneres’ collection of rugs through Loloi,” said Wilson. “This year, we’re also offering more one-of-a-kind, vintage Persian rugs.”

“In the design studio, we love when people drop in and if one of our designers is available, we can certainly meet with them right away,” explained Neal. To guarantee a designer’s time, clients can simply call and schedule a time to meet.

Setting the Tone
“In staging the store and choosing our accessories, we really thought about spring and going into the lake season,” said Wilson. “We chose a lot of coastal navy tones and a timeless, deeper green tone in accessories. Navy is really reminiscent of the lake and sea and using green in a design really brings the outdoors in, which a lot of people are trying to do this time of year.”

Shopping for Inspiration
“Whenever I travel, I make sure I go to other home furnishing shops. More often than not, the stores that I’m drawn to are left sparse and kind of let the furnishings do the talking,” said Neal. “If anything, our store is inspired by a great store in Atlanta called Bungalow Classic – this is one of my favorites. To achieve that kind of vibe, we really wanted the showroom to have a clean look and bring in as much natural light as we could. We like neutrals and layering of textures, but warmer colors are definitely coming back. We find that the pendulum is swinging back to a more traditional and timeless look.”

Up and Coming!
Follow McNeal & Friends on social media to find out about upcoming events and their May grand opening celebration.


For more information, contact:

McNeal & Friends
3265 45th Street South, Fargo

701. 235.0031
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Evolving Builder…Growing Family

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography For one local builder, this home is symbolic of 20 years of changing times, evolving styles and growing families. The Lassig…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

For one local builder, this home is symbolic of 20 years of changing times, evolving styles and growing families. The Lassig family has built with Jordahl Custom Homes not once, but four times. It all began with David Lassig moving into his first Jordahl home as a bachelor. Fast forward nearly 20 years and three more homes with Jordahl, and today, David’s life has evolved just as much as his builder has. Now married with a 20-month-old daughter, David and his wife, Shanara, were happy to give us a glimpse inside their new, open-layout rambler, custom-designed for an upgraded life with a blossoming family.

The Fourth Time’s the Charm
This is Shanara’s second Jordahl home, while it’s her husband’s fourth. “The first time I bought a Jordahl Custom Homes house, the price was very affordable. It was 2002 and I was a first-time homebuyer, so I chose a bi-level house,” said David. “Then I built again a year later with them. It was nice because I still got to pick out a lot of the things in the home. I thought there were a lot of options to choose from back then, but compared to now, there’s so much more they can offer.”

“Even compared to the last home we built together versus this one, the new options and additional customizations we could do design-wise, were just incredible,” said Shanara. “We worked with the lead designer, Katie Kern and were given so many design choices and that’s something that we really liked about the process. Even though we did a lot more in this house, it was still very affordable.”

“Obviously, when we went to the Parade of Homes we’d look at other houses, but most of them were way more expensive,” said David. “Not a lot of builders have this many options to choose from like Jordahl does. In four houses, we’ve always had a positive experience and based on the price-point and what they could offer, we decided to stay with Jordahl.”

Evolving Life…Evolving Home
Before adding their own personal touches, the Lassigs worked with Jordahl to find the floor plan that suited their family, eventually customizing the Augusta #5 plan to add Isla’s room and a mudroom. “We really liked the design for the stairs,” said Shanara. “We had to change it when we added Isla’s bedroom, so now there’s more railing and it turned out really nice. We had a pretty good idea of what we liked and didn’t like, so the process went quickly.”

“Our last home (#3) was a two-story and a more traditional layout, so it was just a much different living style. The rooms were more compartmentalized, which was great for us at the time, but now, with our daughter, we are much happier with the open layout of this design. I don’t worry about her being in her room, I can easily see where she’s going,” explained Shanara.

Staying on Budget
For any homeowner, budgeting with big dreams is not an easy task, but the Lassigs came up with a plan to work their budget backward. “Jordahl’s team really helped us stay on budget,” said Shanara. “We went to the top of our budget right away by choosing everything in the house that we wanted – then we scaled it down from there. So, some upgrades we decided to still do, but we compromised by opting to do them later on. If there was anything that we couldn’t do, we discussed with them to figure out what would work for us. There was a lot of switching back and forth and they were really kind and patient about it.”

Making their House a Home
For the Lassig’s overall design, the conversation began with a family heirloom. “I had told Katie that the house was going to have to be built around my grandparent’s hutch in the dining room,” said Shanara. “The original plan had three beautiful windows at the top which would have been lovely, but there was no place to put the hutch, so we made sure that the windows got changed to make room.”

Shanara is a preschool teacher, so items like the antique chalkboard above her cabinets and school bell near her fireplace are not just fanciful decor. “In our decorating, we tried to incorporate things that we loved or items that were meaningful to us. We like antiques, modern and farmhouse, so these are little touches of our personal style,” said Shanara. “As we’ve grown as a couple together, we’ve definitely changed our style and it’s become more unified.”

Designing their Dream…Again!
While Shanara’s favorite features lean toward design elements such as the theater room snack bar, shiplap fireplace, and custom built-ins, her husband didn’t take long to answer that his stand-out favorite feature was the three-stall garage. “We love having a basement and place for Isla to play. It’s been great to have a mudroom in this home too. We didn’t have one before and it’s so nice to be able to just throw everything up on a hook and toss our shoes in the bins,” said Shanara.

“Another thing we loved about working with their team is that they scheduled time for us to be able to come into the house before the flooring and trim were in,” said Shanara. “We wanted to do some of our own painting and details, like in Isla’s room and the distressed, wood accent wall. So, we just came in for a couple of days and got our projects done. They were really flexible about that which we really loved.”

The Lassigs bought their own lighting and reclaimed shiplap wood from Dakota Timber Company, but Jordahl Custom Homes agreed to install it for them. Throughout the process, David can recall only one regret. In his fourth build, he had decided to keep some of the work for himself, like building and installing the barn door near the entrance to the laundry room. After the arduous DIY process, he quickly changed his mind, jokingly vowing that if he ever built again, that task could stay with Jordahl.

“I think the process has gotten a lot easier over the years. There are so many different people that you talk to and everyone has a specific part that they play in the process. They’ve been great at helping us make those decisions. I know it’s cliche to say that it feels like a home versus just a house, but this one really does,” said David.

Feedback from the Builder:
“It is our goal to customize each home to the client’s needs and do it at an affordable price. Building a home can be overwhelming and have lots of unknowns, but we have a great team in place to make sure their experience is easy and fun,” said Suzie Rohde, Vice President of Jordahl Custom Homes. “Being a custom home builder, we have the belief we can build anything a customer wants.”


“We have five full-time designers who work with customers to fine tune the selections and finishes specific to the customer’s wants and needs,” said lead designer, Katie Kern. “Over the years, the process has evolved from having one interior design appointment to having up to seven appointments with one of our on-staff interior designers. The designers are all masters in their field, keeping up with the latest trends and bringing that value to their design appointments with homeowners and showcasing those trends in our models. We also work very closely with suppliers and subcontractors to ensure we can offer a large variety of options and selections.””It has been fun to see the Lassigs come together as a couple, and also see their family grow,” said sales consultant, Nicole Rygh. “We love that they trust us in both quality and design. Being a first-time homeowner or building a larger house for a growing family, we know we can construct a great house but it is the family that makes it a home. The Lassigs are truly a part of the Jordahl family.”

For more information, contact:
Jordahl Custom Homes
4802 Amber Valley Parkway, Fargo

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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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Laurie’s [Shoppes at BLU Water Creek]

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography As the first store to open in Shoppes at BLU Water Creek, Laurie’s had already experienced 38 years of success as…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
As the first store to open in Shoppes at BLU Water Creek, Laurie’s had already experienced 38 years of success as one of the area’s most distinguished, specialty clothing boutiques. After 10 years in their 32nd Avenue location, owner Kristi Larkin decided it was time to start a new chapter in a brand-new shopping destination. Despite her stunning new store and expanded inventory, Larkin continues to thrive relying on a concept she’s coined, The Laurie’s Way. To Larkin, this means carrying on the true boutique experience of offering a wide variety of beautiful clothing, in fewer, more exclusive quantities. If that doesn’t lure you in, we’ll introduce you to the unofficial store greeter, Lily – a “teddy bear” Bichon Frise Shih Tzu mix.

A Passion for Fashion
Larkin discovered her passion for fashion and retail merchandising early on, starting at Dayton’s when she was 16, then working at Laurie’s while obtaining a degree in both Apparel and Textiles as well as Business. Larkin went on to work as a buyer for Dayton’s before returning to the area.Creating a unique boutique experience, Larkin firmly believes that her beloved sidekick Lily is part of the charm. “Lily is our main host here at the store. People always ask about her – if I had a store full of Lilys, I could retire,” laughed Larkin. “Most people want to know if she’s for sale.” Not only can guests enjoy Lily’s company as they peruse the racks, guests are also welcome to bring their own furry friends. This is a concept Larkin sees in her travels and wanted to incorporate into her own store environment.

“The front area was really meant to be a comfortable space for not only our customers but also for their spouses and children,” said Larkin. “There’s a T.V. for Bison games or cartoons for the kids along with beverages they can help themselves to while they’re waiting. It’s also a nice, relaxing place for people who are coming in from out of town. Having a space like this can really make it an enjoyable experience all around.” Beyond relaxation, Larkin also uses this area for entertaining during trunk shows and other events throughout the year.

Boutique guests will find an array of brands like 7 For All Mankind, Joseph Ribkoff, Bailey 44, Brighton, Dana Stein Furs, David Cline, Ecru, Elliot Lauren, Fifteen Twenty, Halebob, Pure Amici, In Cashmere and many more.

“Our key to success is knowing who we are and what we stand for – then being true to our vision.”
Kristi Larkin, Owner of Laurie’s

Perks of the New Location:
After seeing many of her 32nd Avenue South neighbors relocate to this area, Larkin’s interest was piqued. When Hair Success owners Jill Krahn and Jodi Ellingson contacted her about the new Shoppes at BLU Water Creek, it didn’t take Larkin long to make the decision. The move would double her square footage and give her better visibility in a high-traffic and thriving neighborhood.

Larkin also helped recruit some of her neighbors to the area. “I think our businesses really compliment one another and I felt it would give people more reasons to visit this area and help create a destination,” said Larkin. “I’m just so excited at how it’s all come together and I feel grateful to have been asked to be a part of it. I’m happy that they thought enough of us and the history we bring to the community, to think that we should be here and be part of this new community and shopping experience. I like to think of it as we’re all a little family in the neighborhood.”

Finding the Perfect Fit
In the new location, Larkin was able to expand and redesign her spacious fitting rooms. Just outside of the fitting rooms, Larkin has done away with the disappearing store clerk, a problem so many stores face while working on inventory in the back of the house. She’s designed a merchandise station out front, allowing her to do the daily inventory work, yet still see to her guests every whim at the nearby fitting rooms. During trunk shows, this space transforms into one of two entertaining spaces throughout the store.

Staying Classy
“This is definitely a dream of mine. Fashion and retail merchandising had always been a love. When my mentor, Laurie (Chatham) retired, it was an opportunity where the timing was right for me,” said Larkin. “As a divorced, single mom, it provided work-life balance for me and my daughter, Hailey. She could be here with me on days when she didn’t have school. She’s 19 now, but she still comes and helps out from time to time when she doesn’t have class.”

“Our key to success is knowing who we are and what we stand for – then being true to our vision,” said Larkin. This means keeping standards high and concepts simple. In visiting with Larkin, her passion is clear and her goal has always been one thing – to create a true boutique experience, rooted solely in her love of beautiful clothing and accessories. Laurie’s does not carry mass quantities of any particular item and for good reason. By offering a wide variety of clothing in fewer, more exclusive quantities, guests are content knowing that fewer people will be playing the inevitable game of “Who wore it best?”. For Larkin, the perfect fit means personalizing the experience for each customer and promoting a positive body image through exclusive and timeless fashions.

For more information, contact:
3265 45th St. S. Suite 100, Fargo

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DIY: A Rainbow Book Wall

Words by Katie Sullivan Photography by Dan Francis Photography Turn an empty wall into a functional work of art with a can of black paint and a pile of your…

Words by Katie Sullivan
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

Turn an empty wall into a functional work of art with a can of black paint and a pile of your kids’ books. DIY projects don’t have to be complex to make an impact!


Tape measure

Black paint

Paint roller


3.5” deep acrylic shelves from cleardisplays.com



Stud finder

Sheetrock anchors


Drill or screwdriver

Colorful books

How to Prepare

Measure your wall and determine how many shelving units you will need. Clear Display Solutions offers several lengths, which can be paired together to create almost endless options. We bought the 3.5” deep flat shelves and installed them in three rows, equaling 96”. Our shopping cart had six of the 36” and three of the 24” shelves. Each row had one long, one short and one long.

To make your books really pop, break out black paint and roll it on! We used Behr’s Broadway, but we recommend you sample a few colors to make sure you get the perfect black for your space. A true, flat black works best because it allows the books to take center stage.

Once the paint has dried and your cardboard box full of clear shelves has arrived, it’s time to make it happen!

Installing the Shelves

  • Use a pencil and a level to mock up the rows.

Insider Tip: Make sure you consider how tall the books you’re using are when spacing out your rows.

  • Mark the locations of the shelves’ pre-drilled holes.
  • Get out your stud finder and pray the pre-drilled holes fall on a stud or two.
  • Install a sheetrock anchor anywhere that there needs to be a screw, but there isn’t a stud.
  • Touch up the paint and wait for it to dry.
  • Screw in the shelves!

Insider Tip: Be careful not to overtighten the screws or your acrylic will crack. We may or may not have learned this the hard way!

  • Arrange your books Roy. G. Biv style! For non-rainbow enthusiasts, that’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and then violet.

Insider Tip: Use two to four books per stack.

For more information, contact:

Katie Sullivan



Connect with me on social media:

Facebook @Pretty Domesticated

Instagram @PrettyDomesticated

Pinterest @Ktmsullivan

For more tips, complete sourcing information and to tour the rest of our home, visit prettydomesticated.com. 

My Favorite Black Paints

Because is there really such a thing as too many black walls?

Behr Broadway 

Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black 

Sherwin Williams Black Magic 

Benjamin Moore Black Beauty 

Purchase shelves at cleardisplays.com


Chaise – Room & Board

Teepee – Tnee’s Tpees

Drawers – Ikea

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[Inside] Gate City Bank – Downtown Fargo Renovation

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by J. Alan Paul Photography The joy of featuring local office design is showing spaces that you and I may never get the chance to…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by J. Alan Paul Photography

The joy of featuring local office design is showing spaces that you and I may never get the chance to see. In the heart of Downtown Fargo, Gate City Bank has been busy at work renovating their second-floor. To explain it, we ask you to imagine coming to work in an environment which mimics a beautiful home. Now imagine that home with stunning artwork, high-end finishes, nine TVs, a treadmill workstation, state-of-the-art kitchen and an array of collaborative workspaces to suit your every mood. To find out why Gate City Bank believes their space defines their culture, we met with Jay Krabbenhoft, Senior Vice President of Administration, who gave us an in-depth tour of their new, second-floor space designed to inspire… with all the comforts of home.

Renewal & Renovation | Second Floor

To create a more inviting atmosphere for everyone, Chairman, President and CEO, Steve Swiontek provided his vision to the Gate City Bank design team who collaborated with architect Andrew Koedam of Wild | CRG. With Wild | CRG officing within the Gate City Bank building, he has become embedded in their culture, often attending company events and gatherings to better understand their culture, goals and needs.

Serving over 250 corporate office employees, Gate City Bank’s goal was to create a work environment that would exceed the needs of their team members. To accomplish this, all of the workstations are designed to accommodate a sit or stand option, with adjustable desk heights and three monitors.

Although most would assume an open office plan would result in amplified noise levels, this space is specifically engineered for sound reduction via architectural elements like extra floor padding and a specialized drapery which absorbs noise.

Along the atrium’s south wall, Gate City Bank has undergone an extensive facelift, creating a new wall of 13-foot windows harvesting abundant natural light and aiding in their employee’s well-being.

Investing in an Inspired Environment

Gate City Bank is well-known for being an avid supporter of the art community. Over 80 percent of their paintings, pottery and sculpture pieces are sourced from local artists and galleries.

Second-Floor Artists Featured:

Boyd Sharp, Susan Piazza, Carrie Swanke, Mary Johnston, Josaine Childers, Smith Carney, Barnes, Michael Thompson, Tim McFadden, Sandi Dahl, Will Richard, Hong, Yuenxu, Kathleen Hope, P.T. Tiersky, Mantin, Sue Boyd, James Wolberg, Linda Kall, Ursula Brenner and Davidson.

“By creating visually appealing, unique, and transparent working environments for our team members, we’re able to foster a culture of creativity and innovation. We have a passion for making the lives of our customers and team members better, by investing in them and their communities for a better way of life.”
Steve Swiontek, Chairman, President and CEO, Gate City Bank.

For this renovation, the bank worked with local artists to carefully choose each piece and location for install. “There are over 250 people who work in this building, so we believe everyone here should get to enjoy local art. It helps support the art community and it enhances the work environment,” explained Krabbenhoft. “The better part of our day is spent at work, so it’s nice to be able to incorporate some fun and creativity. We want all of the team members to experience each piece, so we move and circulate the art amongst the different floors for everyone to enjoy.”

“We really have to give all the credit to our Chairman, President, and CEO Steve Swiontek, for setting the tone for us to do this. He really drives this unique culture and truly believes in investing in his team and their environment. The second-floor renovation is proof of this commitment. This is designed solely for the health and well-being of the team,” said Krabbenhoft.

Transforming Walls into Art

At the entrance to the second floor, their renovation sets the tone with a custom-designed, diamond-plate ceramic tile floor and laser-cut wall art which is positioned over a metallic wall and back-lit with color-changing LEDs. This stunning design feature is the first of its kind in North Dakota.

I think great design, art, furniture and lighting really engage people in their work. It makes the day so much more pleasant. By creating this type of environment, it shows a commitment and investment in all of their team members.”
Andrew Koedam, AIA – Vice President, Architect at Wild | CRG

Comforts of Home

As part of their unique and intuitive work culture, Gate City Bank offers employees access to an array of tools and amenities to help create comfort and increase productivity. Team members have access to different types of communal spaces and meeting rooms, adjustable desks, kitchens, TVs, reverse osmosis drinking water and specialized temperature-controlled environments.

Fabrics & Furnishings 

To create a space which mimics the comforts of home, Gate City Bank chose thoughtful furnishings and fabrics with a residential feel. Collaborating with the commercial furniture manufacturer, they’ve taken office furniture to a new level with unconventional, quilted fabrics and residential-influenced patterns and designs.

Conference Rooms + Cameras

With video conferencing between all of their locations, the team has designed a specialized conference table in the shape of a wedge to accommodate the camera swing. “Video conferencing really works well for us to have an open dialogue and communication with all of our coworkers from Williston to Alexandria,” said Krabbenhoft. To absorb outside noise, they’ve once again incorporated specially engineered drapery, which has an added design effect of softening the office environment.

Designed as a smaller, video conferencing room, this space is also considered a huddle room for brainstorming sessions and a space to utilize when more privacy is required. In an open work plan like this one, Gate City Bank believes in the need to provide diverse work environments for diverse needs.

The Collaborative Work Area

On the southeast side, we found their Collaborative Work Area, a beautiful space designed with multi-faceted functionality. This is not considered the employee lounge, but space where up to 20 staff members can work or meet with others. “I liken it to a student union where you grab a beverage and snack and meet with your team members,” explained Krabbenhoft.

With a full kitchen and open pantry on site, this area provides a hot beverage station, pellet ice machine, full appliance offerings and custom-designed, laminate cabinetry with a matching, wrapped refrigerator. The team uses the kitchen for official bank functions and company gatherings like potlucks. “When you design for a commercial setting, it’s a different process,” said Koedam. “You have to make everything intuitive so that all of the appliances and features are easily recognizable and usable, even to new team members.”

In the corner of the room, Krabbenhoft took an interesting design cue from a local university by mimicking their upholstered step seating. This is part of their Collaborative Work Area which provides one more comfortable and transitional space to work, complete with a built-in tray for drinks or snacks.

Transparency in the Workplace

At Gate City Bank, the majority of their offices are equitable in style and size with only a handful of them designed to be larger spaces. Almost all offices are enclosed in glass to help integrate a more transparent management style.

Taking Comfort in the Details

When it comes to more private areas like the restrooms, doors were made discreet with a continuation of the hand-painted, metal wall covering. Inside, their signature style continues with a flat-screen TV, dual vanities and ample art.

As part of their intuitive design, four coat closets on this floor are left open with TVs overhead – a simple way to encourage team members to store their coats during the work day, versus keeping them at their desks.

Walk at Work

One of the newest additions to the office is their treadmill workstation, specially designed for an office setting. Here, team members can find a change of pace while catching up on their emails. Gate City Bank regularly experiments with out-of-the-box ideas like this one that might bring a new element to their company culture.

White Noise

Bringing more life to a corporate setting, flat screen TVs are accessed throughout the office and in all 36 locations. “Everyone’s accustomed to TVs in the background now, so we usually have it on HGTV or Food Network, unless there is something going on like the Olympics or a local sports game,” said Krabbenhoft. “On this floor alone, we have nine TVs set on a low or muted volume and people seem to really like it. It really does not interfere with their work, it just adds some color and movement to the background.”

Staying Connected

Here, the atrium is not just a stunning feature with a view overlooking the first floor, it provides a necessary connection between the two floors and helps disperse natural light from the upper floor windows.

Conscious & Confidential 

Primarily considered a paperless office, each of the workstations features three screens to help eliminate excessive printing. With an effort to promote cleaner, greener communities, this floor has only two shared printers. This helps keep printing to a minimum and also aids with the confidentiality of their customer’s information.

Protecting customer information and employees is of utmost importance, so all entrances to this floor are private with security locks, motion detection cameras and check-ins by visitors are required.

In the works!

Utilizing every floor of their 1956 Downtown Fargo skyrise, Gate City Bank is not finished renovating. Currently, in progress is the lower level’s Innovation Center, scheduled to be complete by Christmas – this space will consist of a kitchen and six meeting rooms with two of those rooms expanding to create one large meeting room that will seat over 50 people.


Find the Finishes:

Architect – Andrew Koedam, Wild | CRG
Interior Designer – Karen Bye, Accomplished Design

Workstation furniture and treadmill – Business Essentials

Glass office enclosures – Fargo Glass & Paint

Lighting – Underbrush Gallery, SCHEELS Home & Hardware

Cabinetry – Fargo Cabinets

Countertops – Granites Unlimited

Tilework – McArthur Tile Co.

Painting – Morris Painting & Decorating

Construction Vendors:

Dakota Fence, Custom Aire, ETS, Precision Concrete Cutters, Inc., Mid America Steel, Inc., Red River Fabricating, Inc., Ledgestone, Inc., Waters Construction, G&M Lathing Contractors, Inc., Sig Olson & Sons Plastering, Inc., Flament-Ulman, Inc., Lunseth, JDP Electric, Inc, Miller Insulation, Fabricators, ISED, Fegley Services, MBN Engineering, Solien & Larson Engineering, Nova Fire Protection, Toshiba Business Solutions, City of Fargo

For more information, contact:
Gate City Bank
Amy Durbin, Vice President of Marketing & Business Intelligence
701.293.2497Gate City Bank
Jay Krabbenhoft, Senior Vice President of Administration
500 Second Avenue North, Fargo


Wild | CRG
Andrew Koedam, AIA – Vice President, Architect
500 Second Avenue North, Suite 514, Fargo
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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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