Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
Mosaic Design + Build is not your typical remodeling contractor. Owners Melanie and James Iverson were recently remarried and know a thing or two about rebuilding broken pieces to redefine a space, or their own life…hence the name “Mosaic”. With Melanie as the interior designer and James as the project manager, we were thrilled to go on a journey with them as they gave us a tour of three recent remodels, with the last one giving us a glimpse of their own fixer-upper. Together, this dynamic duo is perfecting the art of restoring home.
#1. Boho Minimalist Makeover
When Krysta and Matt Bye were ready to downsize and take on a fixer-upper, the couple contacted Mosaic Design + Build to transform their 1928 character home in North Moorhead. With only a couple of months of pre-planning and one week to do the actual remodel, Melanie and James Iverson hit the gas, working day and night to complete the home, just in time for their closing day. See inside the Boho minimalist makeover that gave new life to this home’s good bones.
The Byes had most recently lived in a home that had far more square footage than their smaller family of four required. Their ultimate goal became to downsize and take on a fun remodel. They decided that if they downsized strategically, the result would allow them a home they loved, and a life they could live to the fullest.
Although the Byes were initially considering buying a more extensive fixer-upper, they came across this home and felt it was a gem they couldn’t pass up. “James and I walked through the home with them before they bought it, then we put a bid together so they would know ahead of time how much to budget for the project.”
In the Details
Even though it’s an older character home, this gem has all of the updates one would need, including Smarthome features. “There’s really nothing big that they had to do to the home, mainly just cosmetic updates,” said Melanie Iverson. “One of the unique things about working with a smaller home is there is very little wasted space. Here, every inch of this house is functional or at least aesthetically pleasing.”
Fortunately for the Byes, one of the couples that had previously lived in the home had been a professional millworker. He was the one that designed all of the stunning beams, existing floating shelves and coffered ceilings. The following owners had painted the entire main level a dark chocolate brown and red with navy blue upstairs, leaving the home feeling very dark throughout.
Since the home was never actually listed because the past and current owners knew each other, Mosaic was able to get in last week, and about one week prior to the closing. “One of the first things that we did is to repaint every inch of the home,” said Melanie Iverson.
“On the main level, we used a light grey (Heron Plume), which looks great with the white subway tile and truffle-toned grout we installed in the kitchen. We kept the existing ceiling millwork, cabinetry and countertops. We replaced the lights throughout and have completed the upstairs remodel, except for decor. We basically spent an entire week just updating the finishes so that the new owners could move in last night – they’re closing on the home is today.”
Mosaic knew this project was going to have to work on a tight schedule, so Melanie and James had every inch mapped out with idea boards and knew exactly how they wanted to piece it together. “For the furnishings, Krysta and I had gone shopping quite a while ago and picked out all of the furniture, lighting and samples – we had been going back and forth since the beginning of May,” said Melanie Iverson. “We bought some things together, checking out pieces online and worked together on the placement of the furniture. They’re amazing clients and it’s been a really fun project to do.”
“We call this style Boho Minimalism, just because it’s not the traditional Bohemian style, which tends to be a lot busier,” said Melanie Iverson. “We have the dark, warm tones of the existing millwork, bold pops of rich color and texture, with some larger patterns mixed in. Krysta was really fun to work with because she was excited to take risks. A lot of homeowners I’ve worked with in the past get really worried about colors and prints, but she was really bold and brave, so it was fun getting to work with her. When we spotted the teal linen recliner chairs, we both looked at each other and thought…we need to get these chairs. The sofa is a soft-blend grey linen which looks amazing with the fun checkered and magenta pillows from The White House Co.”
“For the tablescape, I found all of the decor at The White House Co., then placed a captain’s chair at the end that would not obstruct the pathway,” said Melanie Iverson. “Eventually, we will have a bench on the kitchen side of the table, so that will help to open up the pathway even more.”
Near the entrance, Mosaic has taken a plain wall and created a fun focal point with a mirror, bench, bold pillows and a live-edge wood slab, installed like a floating shelf. “I like doing really neutral colors on walls and then changing out the furnishings with those bright colors,” said Melanie Iverson. “Compared to repainting, it’s not as costly to buy new accessories like pillows or throws.”
Meet the homeowners: Krysta and Matt Bye
“This process was awesome, it went so smoothly and Melanie and James made it really easy. We had fun collaborating on design ideas and I’m thrilled with how the space turned out and the vision they brought to life. I had a concept in mind and a feel that I wanted – Melanie took that and ran with it, creating a kind of Mid-century modern, Bohemian feel,” said Krysta Bye. “The bones of the space were really great, so it was fun to be able to come in and transform it.”
This month’s issue shows the Bye’s home after a couple of months of pre-planning and one week’s worth of work, almost solely on the main level. What is not shown, is the upstairs remodel which consisted of replacing the stairwell and upstairs flooring, and updating the master bedroom, office and bathroom. After Mosaic completes the upstairs decor, Krysta’s office, just off of the master, will be transformed into her creative suite, helping her to work from home as a musician and entrepreneur.
Find the Finishes: Move-In Makeover
Paint color – Heron Plume, Sherwin Williams
Furnishings – Slumberland, HomeGoods
Checkered and magenta pillows – The White House Co.
Pink pillows – HomeGoods
Live-edge slab mantle – Dakota Timber Company
Boho rugs – Amazon
Live-edge side tables and dining set – Slumberland
TV cabinet – Ikea
Stairwell carpet – Carpet Garage
Triangle wall art – Hobby Lobby
#2. Rose Creek Remodel
As the senior pastor and co-founder of Burning Hearts Church, Jana Sawchuk’s home is meant to be a sanctuary, but there was nothing soothing about the honey oak that seemed to be everywhere in her home. Built in 1996, Jana and her husband, Dr. Ted Sawchuk were ready to either love it or list it – but either way, they knew it was time to remodel. To manage two bathroom remodels and a fireplace refacing, the couple worked with Mosaic Design + Build to complete all three projects in less than one month.
“Their old bathrooms kind of looked like something you might see in a rental unit, just very basic fixtures and cabinets,” explained Melanie Iverson of Mosaic Design + Build. Overwhelmed by their outdated finishes, the Sawchuks had considered selling as a solution. “I realized that If we wanted to sell our house, we’d have to update it,” said Jana Sawchuk. “So, we decided to follow through with the updates, but live in it updated, rather than sell it.”
Although the couple has three grown kids, they are still in the stage of sporadically coming and going. In fact, all three had planned on being home for the summer, so it was a major goal to have the bathrooms completed before the start of the summer. Since they had two other bathrooms to use, Mosaic worked on both remodels at the same time. They also asked Mosaic to take on a resurfacing project with their fireplace surround in the great room.
For style inspiration, Mosaic relied on Jana Sawchuk’s love of travel and the beach. She had once lived in Hawaii and many of their family vacations were centered around surfing. Finding a way to diffuse the honey oak and infuse a bright coastal vibe would become their end-goal.
To complete the upstairs bath, Mosaic completely gutted the space down to the studs. To achieve more efficient use of the space, they swapped the single, lower vanity for double sinks and designed a new walk-in shower with a unique swiveling glass door. Honey oak was replaced with crisp, white subway tile and the clean lines of shiplap. Outdated fixtures made way for articulating sconces, brushed nickel fixtures, marble counters and square sinks.
“Jana really wanted a floating shelf, so we used a piece of reclaimed wood, running it from one end to the other for display. We used a 3×6, extra-wide subway tile with extra white grout – we didn’t want to see the grout at all, just to give it that really clean look,” said Melanie Iverson. “We also added some outlets to bring it up to code, so if the family ever decides to sell, they’re not going to have any issues.”
“I knew I really wanted the shiplap and definitely a half shower door – I don’t like shower curtains and I don’t like full doors, I think they’re dysfunctional,” explained Jana Sawchuk.
To properly install the swivel door, the team had to adjust the plumbing – moving it to the other side where it made more sense. According to Iverson, there were about 110 different options for the swiveling door, but this is the one their plumber recommended as one of the sturdiest and safest options. Beyond the swiveling glass door, Melanie Iverson designed a marble hexagon mosaic pattern which was added to the niche in the shower wall.
Unable to make this bathroom larger due to the layout, Mosaic laid the flooring in a more strategic way to make the room appear larger, without adding square feet. “Knowing that we’d have to re-sheetrock and texture, we covered all of the stairs and flooring with plastic. We just did a lot of additional cleaning so that they could maintain their normal lifestyle.”
Lower Level Bath
In the lower level bath, Mosaic opted to keep the tub surround but replaced the flooring with a more grey-toned luxury laminate. Melanie Iverson worked closely with the Jana Sawchuk to choose the finishes, consisting of a new black oak vanity with marble top, antiqued gold lighting and reclaimed wood towel hooks. “I really liked Jana’s style that brings in that light, airy beach vibe, and there’s also a lot of personality in this design,” said Melanie Iverson. “It’s been really fun working with her and bouncing ideas off of each other.”
For the final phase of this remodel, Mosaic took on the forest green marble of the fireplace surround in the great room. This would be a less extensive project that would mean painting the gold detailing black and replacing the green facade with a crisp, white marble.
“We completed all three projects in under a month. I think there is real value in working with a design/build,” said Melanie Iverson. “We can move swiftly through the project because there’s only one point of contact. It’s an aspect that really saved them money and time.”
“With Mosaic, I have a mentality that I want to do as much for the client as we can, with the least amount of stress,” said James Iverson. “So, we deal with the contractors, we handle the scheduling and really, take care of everything – then communicate it to the client. We have a lot of strong relationships within the trades, so that really helps us to get the job done well.”
Feedback from the Homeowner: Jana Sawchuk
“James and Melanie were great to work with and very creative – they understood what I wanted right away, and I’m not your normal North Dakotan,” laughed Jana Sawchuk. “I’ve worked with other designers, and the house ended up looking how they wanted it, not what I wanted. I knew that Melanie really understood what I wanted. That reclaimed wood shelf and some of the other things that I asked for, were not easy tasks, but they were willing to work with it. On the contractor side, James was great managing all of the other subcontractors and they got it done very quickly. We have more projects to do, so we plan to work with them again.”
Find the Finishes: Rose Creek Remodel
Wall paint – Reflection, Sherwin Williams
Lower Vanity – Joss & Main
Upper Vanity – Wayfair
Laminate flooring – Carpet Garage, Dilworth
Articulating sconces – Build.com
Glass shower door – Custom Design Plumbing, LLC
Subway tile – Menards
Mosaic Tile (Bathroom Niche) – Syverson Tile & Stone
Reclaimed wood shelving – Tornell Construction
Fireplace marble – Home Depot
#3. At Home with Mosaic Design + Build
Last, but certainly not least, Mosaic Design + Build gave us a glimpse inside their own fixer-upper. After recently getting remarried, James and Melanie decided to embark on a fresh start with a new home. One month after their closing date, we visited the couple to take a quick tour at the start of their project, and their personal mission of restoring home.
Phase 1: Lower-Level Den
“The day after we closed, James started demolition on the lower-level den, so that’s where we began our renovation. It had that old, 70s-style paneling and James gutted it entirely off of the walls and fireplace,” said Melanie Iverson. “He installed the sheetrock, did the tape, texture and mudding, ripped out the old carpet and installed the new flooring. I took on the painting and design finishes.”
“On the fireplace, I decided to white-wash the brick because it was old and almost too yellow for me. I picked up the live edge mantelpiece at Dakota Timber Company. This is part of their Urban Reclaimed collection that is sourced from boulevard trees taken down by the City of Fargo,” explained Melanie Iverson.
Their new home has a pool in their backyard and hot tub just off of the kitchen, so they wanted to make sure that the flooring could handle water. “With our kids, Carter, almost 13 and Gracie, 11, we decided we needed totally waterproof surfaces, so James installed a luxury vinyl plank flooring. We will eventually be doing this same flooring up the stairs and on the main level as well.”
“I personally love more of a Bohemian, eclectic style, mixed with some Mid-century modern. I really enjoy mixing patterns that you wouldn’t typically see together,” explained Melanie Iverson. “I think it feels fresh and different. A lot of people think they could never do that in their own home, but with the right ensemble, it can be beautiful.”
“Most of the time, in each room, I find something that I hate so much that I think I will love it – something that really pushes my own boundaries. That happens to be that zebra chair. It’s so ugly, I just love it,” laughed Melanie Iverson. “I also did some jewel-tones in here with a goal for it to feel somewhat coastal. A lot of the clay pots and baskets around the room are from my mother-in-law – she was downsizing, so I inherited those things. She just had some really interesting pieces, including the two art pieces behind the lamp.”
“For the artwork above the mantel, I found the painting of the woman for a dollar at a rummage sale and wasn’t even sure if I liked it, but it works really well in this space. The floral painting over the sofa is also a rummage sale find, and the brightly colored face painting in the corner was going to be thrown away, so I snagged it. I just like to surround myself with really interesting pieces,” said Melanie Iverson. “The coffee table was first made by Grain Designs in a grey-toned wood, but for this room, I needed it to be lighter, so I painted over it with white.”
Meet the fifth member of the Iverson family; Samuel Kingston Lover Jackson Keisha Ojuri Iverson. Yep, all of those names. “He was a rescue dog I got when the kids were seven and eight, and I knew he’d be our dog throughout their childhood,” said Melanie Iverson. “We kept talking about names, so I said, to heck with it. Let’s just name him all of the names that we love, that we can all agree on.” Bison fans might recognize Carter’s pick of Ojuri from their past roster, Sam Ojuri.
Phase 2: The Spa Room
Just beyond the kitchen, the Iverson’s new house has a gorgeous spa room with fun architectural details in pine and brick. Before their cosmetic makeover, this room was mint green with all walls finished in pine. To brighten up the space, they opted to paint the shared wall white for a more modern approach.
“With a house like this, there were a lot of things that needed to be fixed or worked on. For us, it’s a perfect house because everything does need to be redone,” said Melanie Iverson.
“When we had younger kids, I always thought I wanted to be on the same floor with them, but after spending some time in very close quarters, I realized now that they’re almost 13 and 11, that we needed our space,” said Melanie Iverson. “With a four-level split, each of us can have our own space and quiet. Especially with us having a business where we work from home, we really needed that separation, but the space will really flow, so it will still feel cohesive.”
Marriage + Mosaic
James and Melanie were remarried in September last year, and they knew that this next season of their lives with their children, was really important. This time, they would invest wisely in their family and their time. “I had been working for a non-profit and I was tired – I knew I need a change of pace where I could spend more time with our family. I had gone back and forth on deciding whether to go back into interior design consulting, which is what I did in the past with Melanie Michelle Designs. I knew I really enjoyed it and I feel like I was created to create,” said Melanie Iverson.
“In November, when we started dreaming about what our new lives would look like, we attended a conference and this woman that heard our story had said, ‘Your lives are interesting, it seems like, through your first marriage and divorce, everything shattered. It seems that God is placing you back together and making a really beautiful mosaic of what was once broken.’ That really spoke to both of us,” said Melanie Iverson.
Launching a New Life
“While we were processing what to do, the idea of starting this company, really came to us. In January, James decided to quit his job and we would launch Mosaic Design + Build.
When I met James, he was a commercial paint contractor and when we were married, he had worked for over 12 years as the building and grounds manager for a local company, managing the remodel of their commercial space. After that was completed, James gained valuable experience working in flooring and drywall alongside contractors, often doing remodel projects for family members. So, these days, I help create the space and he does all of the heavy work,” laughed Melanie Iverson.
“In our old house, when we were first married, she had created the vision. We started that project married, then we got divorced. I finished her vision in order to be able to sell it. When you look back on it, it’s actually kind of cool because, even with all that was going on at that time, I still kept her design going in that house, which I think is really kind of significant with where we ended up with Mosaic,” said James Iverson.
“I really enjoy working on our home, it’s almost therapeutic in a sense,” said James Iverson. “Why not do one more thing that we can work together on? We actually do work pretty well together – we have a lot more fun, then we have trying times.”
New vs. Old
Just as in their own life, Mosaic Design + Build has a mission to collaborate with homeowners so that their vision comes to life. “It’s more than just remodeling, it’s restoring home. So many people feel like they have to build new to get what they want. I love new builds, but I think something that is at the core of what I believe, as far as what we do, is that you can absolutely love what you have,” said Melanie Iverson. “Sometimes it just takes a fresh coat of paint or a second set of eyes to be content and happy with some of these older homes. Once you give them a little bit of an update, the result can be beautiful.”
In the Works:
What’s next on their agenda? The Iversons plan to repaint the entire main level and knock the wall out between the kitchen and family room, upgrading the floor plan to a more open concept with a shiplap ceiling. They will be refacing the kitchen cabinets, installing new tile, reclaimed wood shelving, and building an 8×4 butcher block island with drop pendants.
Find the Finishes:
Sofa – West Elm
Downstairs side tables – thrift stores
Coffee table – Grain Designs
Floral pillows & chair – The White House Co.
Downstairs rug – Dakota Boys Ranch
Pillows, fiddle figs and snake plants – The White House Co.
For more information, contact:
Mosaic Design + Build
P.O. Box 455, Fargo